By Jules Allan
Hi I’m Jules, and I'll be offering a monthly column on wellbeing! My column each month will be "Little Steps To..." with a different feature or focus. This month I am focusing on Little Steps to Managing Anxiety.
I have experienced anxiety most of my life and have found since becoming alcohol free my anxiety has reduced, but I still need my tools to navigate managing anxiety and the ups and downs life brings. Alcohol for me had a big impact on me and managing my anxiety, over the years I began to use alcohol as a crutch. When I hit 40 I burnt out and began to explore my relationship with alcohol and became sober curious, I would try dry January and sober October and would feel, begin to feel better then would go back to drinking and it would slowly begin to be a crutch for me again, I explored the connection between my wellbeing, physical health, mental health and the impact alcohol had on me.
Anxiety is a normal and natural emotion that we all experience on a daily basis. It is the body’s response to perceived threats or danger in the environment. It is characterized by feelings of worry, fear, and unease. Anxiety can have a positive or negative effect on our lives, depending on the situation. In some cases, it can be helpful in motivating us to take action and protect ourselves.
However, when anxiety is excessive or out of proportion to the situation, it can become a problem. This is known as an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition across the World.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
The term “anxiety disorder” is an umbrella term for a range of related mental health conditions, including:
• Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – This is characterized by excessive, irrational fear and worry about everyday events and activities.
• Panic Disorder – This is characterized by sudden, intense episodes of fear and panic. • Social Anxiety Disorder – This is characterized by intense fear and self-consciousness in social situations.
• Specific Phobias – This is characterized by an intense and irrational fear of a specific object or situation.
• Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – This is characterized by intrusive and unwanted thoughts and behaviours that are difficult to control.
• Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – This is characterized by flashbacks, nightmares, and intense distress when exposed to reminders of a traumatic event.
Anxiety has an evolutionary purpose; it is the body’s natural response to danger and is designed to help us survive. It causes us to feel alert and ready to take action in the face of potential danger. This can be helpful in some situations, such as preparing for an important test or job interview. However, when anxiety becomes excessive or out of proportion to the situation, it can become a problem. This is known as an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can interfere with our ability to function and can lead to physical and psychological distress.
What is Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Anxiety Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)
It is a type of talk therapy that can help people with anxiety disorders manage their symptoms. It is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are all connected.
CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviours that can contribute to anxiety.
CBT typically involves five steps:
1. Identifying and understanding anxious thoughts and behaviours.
2. Challenging and changing negative thoughts and beliefs.
3. Developing new, positive thoughts and beliefs.
4. Developing coping skills and relaxation techniques.
5. Practicing the new skills in real-life situations.
How can CBT help your Anxiety?
CBT can be used to treat a wide range of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Simple CBT Tools to Support Your Anxiety.
CBT is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders, you can do this with a CBT Counsellor/Therapist, online resources and there are CBT tools you can do on your own.
The following are some simple CBT tools that can help you manage your anxiety:
• Keep a journal – Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you identify patterns in your thinking and behaviour.
• Make a list of triggers – Make a list of situations, people, or events that trigger your anxiety. This can help you identify potential triggers and be better prepared to cope with them.
• Practice positive self-talk – Identify negative thoughts and replace them with positive statements. For example, instead of “I can’t do this,” try “I can do this.”
• Practice relaxation techniques – Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, can help reduce anxiety and improve your mood.
• Challenge your thoughts – Question the accuracy of your negative thinking. Ask yourself, “Is this thought true?”
• Take action – Take one small step towards facing your fear. This will help you build confidence and reduce anxiety.
Anxiety is a normal emotion that can become a problem when it is excessive or out of proportion to the situation. Anxiety disorders can interfere with our ability to function and can lead to physical and psychological distress. Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders. It involves identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviours that can contribute to anxiety.
Wellbeing Tools you may already do or want to bring into your Everyday life!
Yoga – Yoga is a great way to stretch and relax your body. It also helps to clear your mind and create a sense of calm. Book into your next MLPC class, a great way to practice Yoga and connect with the fantastic community!
Nature – Nature is a great source of healing and relaxation. Spend some time outdoors to clear your mind and reset your energy.
Rest – It’s important to take time to rest and recharge. Find ways to relax and unwind, such as listening to music, reading a book, or taking a hot bath.
Nutrition – Eating a balanced diet and getting the right nutrients can help you manage stress and anxiety. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients.
Therapy – Talking to a trained Therapist or Counsellor can help you explore your thoughts and feelings in a safe and non-judgmental environment.
Mindfulness – Mindfulness is a great way to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and how they affect you. Try a mindfulness app or guided meditation to get started.
Breathwork – Breathwork is a type of meditation that focuses on your breath. It can help you relax and manage stress and anxiety.
Sleep – Getting enough quality sleep is essential for managing stress and anxiety Aim for developing a regular sleep routine. A couple of ideas-switching off screens an hour before you go to bed, Yoga Nidra or a meditation in bed, eye mask..
Friends and Connection – Having a supportive network of friends is an important part of managing stress and anxiety. Connecting with friends offline and online, sometimes it can be hard to reach out to friends when you feel anxious. We run Sober Circles at MLPC during the week where you can drop in and connect with others on their Sober Curious journey.
My Sober Curious Journey
Alcohol for me had a big impact on me and managing my anxiety, over the years I began to use alcohol as a crutch. When I hit 40 I burnt out and began to explore my relationship with alcohol and became sober curious, I would try dry January and sober October and would feel, begin to feel better then would go back to drinking and it would slowly begin to be a crutch for me again, I explored the connection between my wellbeing, physical health, mental health and the impact alcohol had on me.
I became passionate about exploring my relationship with alcohol and the opportunities, friendships, connections and communities I have become a part of in the sober curious and AF world. I have been sober curious for 8 years and fully Alcohol Free since Dec 31st, 2019.
I am Trauma Informed and Accessible Yoga Teacher, I’m a Trainee Integrative Counsellor and Recovery Coach.
I have over 25 years of working in community work in creative and wellbeing work, developing and coordinating community creative wellbeing programmes & projects, creative wellbeing activities with various communities.
My mantra all the way through learning to understand my relationship with alcohol and my mental health has been Little Steps.... I truly believe in this and will keep taking little steps every day on my healing journey!