Are you a worrier?
What is that like for you? Is it everyone now and again, or does it happen most or all of the time?
Yes, its normal to worry, that’s true. But for some people that worry becomes excessive and uncontrollable. Lying in bed worrying about where you are going to find parking for the car when you go out at the weekend is the sort of things that might be deemed excessive and uncontrollable, especially if it happens every night of the week.
People who are suffering from generalised anxiety disorder may not even recognise it as that. You may always have worried and not realised how much more you do it to others. Worrying when something stressful is happening in your life is bound to happen, but if you worry as much when you don’t have a much going on might be a sign of anxiety.
Example of GAD
For example, parking the car above, if you are going somewhere new and don’t know the roads you might choose to check before you go. Once you have checked you can be content with that, or if you suffer from anxiety it might go something like this.
- I’ve checked, but what if I misread the map.
- I need to check again…
- and again.
- But what if all the spaces are full. What do I do then?
- Is there a car park?
- How much does it cost?
- What if there aren’t any spaces in there?
- Or I don’t have change for the machine.
- How do I get change?
- What if all this means I am late for my appointment?
- What will I do then?
- Will they wait for me?
- What if they don’t.
- Does that mean they resent me for messing them around even if they do wait?
And so on, as you can see one worry about knowing where to park can grow and more and more worries get added to it.
So, what can I as counsellor do to help?
One of the first things I do is exploring what anxiety is for you as it can be different for everyone. Some people will be having a lot of physical symptoms along with the thoughts, others won’t, or won’t necessarily realise they are.
Recognising your anxiety is important, understanding what you are worrying about and how often allows you to acknowledge what is really going on. A lot of anxiety is a bit stealthy and sneaky, we have thoughts we don’t even notice and I will work with you to shine a light on them.
I do this because it is easier to work on what we know than what we don’t.
I may then look at some coping strategies to use when you notice your anxiety growing to help you manage it when it is happening.
In the longer term, we can start exploring some of the reasons and beliefs you have that underlie your anxiety.
However, each client is different so I might adapt depending on what they are bringing.
I do know that counselling can have a long-term impact on reducing anxiety, for some people that can be achieved in a short timeframe of 6-12 sessions, other people need longer. It can be hard work but worthwhile.