25 Oct GUEST POST: MANAGING ANXIETY AND STRESS BY ISABELL BRITSCH
MANAGING ANXIETY AND STRESS
by Isabell Britsch
What creates stress and often brings about anxiety and fear are 2 main things: unpredictability – a difficulty to anticipate what’s going to happen next – and uncontrollability.
As humans we tend to find it difficult to live with uncertainty. And of course that’s somewhat inconvenient, as there’s only so much in our life we actually have control over (not very much). And at times the worry, nervousness, and fear that can be caused by this uncertainty is amplified – whether through conflict in the wider world (I guess rapid changes in UK politics aren’t helping…), or the circumstances of our own private lives: we’re worried we’re not good enough at work, private relationships are breaking down, or we have trouble sleeping because incessant thoughts just won’t calm down.
It can be useful to recognise that we feel stressed or anxious because we can – because we’re able to feel these feelings. These are traits that have evolved over millennia, as our capacity to think has evolved. We can travel into the future with our thoughts (and think of all the things that might go wrong there), and travel into the past
and think of all the things we’ve already messed up. At least that’s the story we often tell ourselves…
It’s important to acknowledge that being stressed or feeling anxious in many ways is our fundamental human way of learning from adversity, staying motivated, and growing. So, it’s certainly not all bad, and it’s a valuable function of our brain.
However, these feelings often impair our ability to self-regulate, and feel grounded and relaxed. And there are many facets to this: feelings of restlessness, feeling depleted and exhausted, digestive issues, disrupted sleep patterns, fear of missing out, or fear of failure – a feeling that we’re not good enough the way we are. We might compare ourselves with others unfavourably, we might be petrified by a meeting we have to lead, or any other task we have to perform: I’ve heard fear of public speaking ranked as the #1 fear in public polls (before nuclear war or death!).
The good news is that we can bring resources into our life that help us feel a little more balanced and at ease – at least one moment at a time.
Working with the breath has great potential to regulate the nervous system, as a major nerve responsible for calming the nervous system runs through the diaphragm and is directly affected by how we breathe.
Moving the body is a great way to metabolise stress hormones (adrenalin / cortisol), and steady the mind.
Relaxation techniques help to ease physical tension and calm the mind, and mindfulness practices support us in dealing with the mental aspects of unpleasant thoughts and rumination.
These are all strategies that are rooted in working with the body and our somatic experience to support a more regulated nervous system.
If you’d like to explore these methods in practice, please join me for the upcoming course:
Tools To Manage Anxiety And Stress
Explore techniques and practices to support yourself through the challenges of life.
Thursdays 3 – 24 November 2022
18:30 – 20:00