The Aword

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A different way of looking at the problem might be to find techniques to tackle the physical (how your body feels), psychological (your emotional response) and behavioural (what you do) aspects of anxiety:

  • Relaxation: helps to reduce physical symptoms: involves tensing and then relaxing various muscles (see below)
  • Breathing techniques: basic exercises teaching breathing from the abdomen not the chest. On placing your hands below your ribs, when you breathe in, your fingers should part slightly, when breathing out they should meet once again. There are a number of different techniques to use for relieving anxiety (see below)
  • Physical fitness: this may seem a lot to ask, bearing in mind having a chronic illness, but there are still ways in which to improve overall bodily fitness: swimming and walking within the constraints of pain and loss of function can be helpful. Setting unrealistic targets (or having them set by someone else) is counterproductive and will cause more stress, as will competing against other people (or even mentally against yourself, as you used to be)
  • Distraction: even in a public place, you should be able to find something to focus on to take your mind off your anxiety: it might be looking out for everything blue you can see, or how many people there are with blond hair.
  • Coping statements: replace negative thoughts with more helpful ones.
  • Behavioural targets: if your anxiety has led you to avoid certain situations, then in the long run, you will be making matters worse for yourself. Anxiety is a bit like a naughty toddler, if you let it have its own way, it will want more and more and more... take a step-by-step approach and reclaim your life.
  • Problem solving approach: write down as precisely a possible what the problem is. List every possible solution (even the silly ones). Then cross out the impractical ones. For each of the remaining options, write down short term and long-term positive and negative consequences. (For yourself and other important people in your life). Now choose one solution or a combination of solutions, define the steps needed for it to be carried out and then take the first step. Proceed step by step, reviewing your progress as you go along, until you achieve your goal.
  • Thought monitoring and challenging: we can all control our thoughts. However, we tend to allow our minds to run around aimlessly a lot of the time, and don't challenge notions that have no basis in reality.

There are 2 main points here:

  1. Never assume  (assume makes an ass out of u and me!)
  2. Never jump to conclusions.
  • Time management: prioritise, be selective, delegate; don't procrastinate. Remember the 80/20 rule: 20% of people's time can produce 80% of their results. Also remember that resting is an important part of work.