GENERAL ANXIETY – often referred to as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – can be considered an almost constant worry about things that might go wrong, and the person shifts from one worrying thought to another. It’s like a permanent background level of stress; always imagining something bad is going to happen. The subconscious mind, being unable to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined, gets the body into a state of readiness just in case.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder:
Chronic feelings of excessive worry and anxiety about everyday things, often with no specific cause.
Do you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms:
- Muscle aches and tension.
- Jumpiness or feeling constantly on edge.
- Abdominal discomfort or diarrhoea.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Feeling of something stuck in the throat.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Cold, clammy hands.
- Fatigue and tiredness, with trouble sleeping.
These are just some of the signs that you’re experiencing undue anxiety.
General manager of the universe
Being general manager of the universe is hard and exhausting work. You simply cannot control everything!
So learn to do what you can do, then have faith that things will work out for the best. This doesn’t mean being passive. It means being very active in doing the things you can do to control the situation; to realistically prepare.
But there’s little point in putting a lot of time and effort into worrying about something you know you cannot control at the moment. Doing so only causes frustration and more anxiety. So the best thing to do is to take full control of all the things you can control, then learn to let go of all the things you can’t. This makes you feel generally much better because:
- Taking control of some things – even different things – feels empowering.
- It gives you a sense of achievement; reminding you that you can take charge of situations when the time is right.
- It keeps your mind focused on something positive.
The endless search for certainty that cannot be found.
Worrying about worrying
Fear and panic may be intense but they’re short lived responses to a fairly specific threat. Anticipatory anxiety about a future event can linger for longer, but at least the event is still specific and it’s possible to divert attention to other things for a while.
Generalised anxiety, however, is often so insidious that it relentlessly simmers away in the background; with the person not really aware of what exactly it is they’re anxious about. It’s like worrying about worrying about worrying... and sometimes even worrying about not worrying!
Yes, it may sound bizarre, but a person can become so accustomed to feeling anxious that if they have a short respite, it feels unnatural and unfamiliar. And what happens when something doesn’t feel right...
That’s right; more anxiety!
Not really knowing what triggers their anxiety can become another source of anxiety in itself, and a person sometimes worries that they’ll never find a solution. This is a very despairing thought to have; one that can easily lead a person to become depressed if allowed to take hold.
Depression is quite common among anxiety sufferers. The constant negative thinking – or ruminating – is a characteristic thinking style that’s common to both.
Fear of fear
Worrying thoughts create anxious feelings, which in turn create more worrying thoughts; a fear of fear cycle. It’s a difficult one to break using will power and determination alone because the thought processes involved come from the subconscious part of the mind. They seem to just ‘happen’ all by themselves.
Something that can be very effective at interrupting this cycle of worrying and anxiety is self hypnosis. Working at the same level – the subconscious level – hypnosis communicates directly with the source of the problem, helping you formulate better, more realistic responses to situations that were making you feel anxious.
So with that in mind, something like this Generalised Anxiety Treatment download could make a difference in reducing your level of anxiety by:
- Helping you deal with the things that need to be dealt with, while letting go of the rest.
- Helping you feel generally more calm and relaxed.
The mind and body seem to work much better when you feel calmer...
Misusing your imagination
Did you know that while humans and animals both experience fear, only humans are capable of experiencing anxiety? It’s because we evolved a very clever tool called the imagination. It enables mankind to achieve some pretty remarkable things, but like any tool, it can be misused.
As well as formulating plans and solutions, in the context of worrying and anxiety, the imagination can be misused to conjure up all sorts of unhelpful thoughts and images about disasters that will never happen. When a person thinks about such things intensely enough, the mind will respond with fear in exactly the same way as if it were really happening.
Whereas a real situation is usually soon over, these imagined disasters can be maintained by the mind indefinitely, along with the corresponding fear response. This is what makes anxiety so tiring, and is what causes so many of the physical symptoms a person may experience.
Question your anxiety
Do you ever stop and ask yourself what exactly it is you’re feeling anxious about, and in what context? All too often a person gets a general feeling of impending doom but is very vague about it. They tend to overestimate the size of the problem, while at the same time underestimate their ability to cope with it.
So let’s take a leaf out of the CBT book and be more specific. Bearing in mind that thoughts, feelings and behaviour influence each other, catch one of those nagging feelings of anxiety as soon as you notice it, and ask yourself:
- What exactly is it that I’m feeling anxious about?
- When or where will it take place?
- How much of my life does it actually effect?
This makes the problem much more manageable, and having cut it down to size, ask a few more questions, like:
- Is my catastrophic outcome really very likely to happen?
- What evidence do I have to support it?
- Has it ever happened?
- What is more likely to happen?
- How can I deal with that more realistic outcome should it occur?
- Am I by any chance engaging in fortune telling...
The trick is to become aware of your thinking, to challenge those irrational thoughts, and to replace them with something more realistic. Realistic thinking isn’t necessarily positive thinking; it’s more ‘objective’ thinking.
For more CBT based techniques like this, you might like to take a look at the Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne. This latest fifth edition covers many practical strategies for coping with and overcoming anxiety disorders. In writing the workbook, the author’s intention was to:
- Describe specific skills that you need to overcome problems with panic, anxiety, and phobias.
- Provide step-by-step procedures and exercises for mastering these skills.
Although there’s quite a bit of descriptive material, what makes this a ‘workbook’ is its emphasis on coping strategies and skills, along with exercises to foster your recovery.
What do you want to do now
Being ‘General Manager’ of the universe is tiring work!
CD & DVD Library
Pass Through Panic
Dr Claire Weekes
Free yourself from anxiety and fear.
In this eight-part radio series originally broadcast in 1967, Dr Claire Weekes – bestselling author of Self Help for Your Nerves – speaks intimately and compassionately about how to overcome panic disorders, anxiety, phobias, agoraphobia, and depression. She coaches you on how to ‘pass through panic’ to reach a place of strength and optimism.
Her revolutionary approach is remarkably simple and effective, and continues to be recommended by medical and psychological communities throughout the world.
Original radio broadcast: 2 hours on 2 CDs.