by Windy Dryden, Ph.D., Dept. of Psychology, Goldsmiths College
I have worked as a counseling psychologist for over ten years. One of the most common problems that people consult me on is anxiety when the source of that anxiety is unclear to them. When people are anxious about specific things in the world, like dogs, spiders or other people’s negative reactions, then at least the person knows what he or she is anxious about. However, a lot of people are anxious about being anxious and this is so common and yet so frequently misunderstood that such lack of knowledge leads to more anxiety.
Anxiety about anxiety occurs when you first experience a fearful reaction, say, while shopping, riding in a lift, driving in a car or even in your home. Having experienced this anxiety (problem 1) you begin to become anxious in case you get anxious again (problem 2). This double-barreled situation is the breeding ground for the development of your vicious circle of anxiety from which you find it so difficult to escape. Understanding this process is the first step to solving the problem.
Let me explain this vicious circle in greater detail. Once you have experienced anxiety “for no good reason,” you then bring an anxious attitude to the prospect of getting anxious. You think something like “Wouldn’t it be terrible if I got anxious.” Thinking in this way actually leads to anxiety. You then notice your anxiety and think something like “Oh my god, I’m getting anxious.” This leads to increased anxiety which triggers a further thought like “Oh my god, I’m losing control. What if I faint (or panic, have a heart attack or act crazily); wouldn’t that be terrible!” Anxiety is again heightened which leads to more anxious “thinking” and so on. Now this pattern occurs incredibly quickly and you probably are only aware of a building sense of panic. In addition, you may be one of a large number of people who “overbreathe” when you get anxious. This means that you take in too much oxygen and feel, paradoxically, that you need to breath in more air, whereas you actually need less. “Overbreathing” leads to such sensations as tingling, faintness, giddiness and heart palpitations. Without knowing this, you may consider that these sensations are evidence that there really is something wrong with you and “that would be awful.” This though leads to more anxiety and the vicious circle continues.
Does having a cigarette make you feel more energized and focused? Does having a drink make you feel less depressed, less anxious or help wind down tension at the end of a long day? The reality is, people use substances because they have an effect that they appreciate. The problem for some, however, is that the effect of substances is inherently short term. Once the effect has passed, you may find that you want to feel those effects again because the underlying state of being is uncomfortable in some way.
Part 3: Prepare and Plan for Urges
By Jim (GJBXVI) Braastad
Scientific research shows that people who have recovered successfully (regardless of the method used) all have three things in common, those being:
- Commitment to sobriety;
- Change in lifestyle; and
- Prepare and plan for urges.
In prior posts, I’ve provided why I strongly believe a commitment to sobriety is so crucial in the path to recovery, and how a change in lifestyle will be needed to be made as well. In this final post in the series, we’ll talk about the last of the “Three Things”, to prepare and plan for urges. Continue reading
I Want It, and I Want It Now!
by Alina Boie, M.S.
We live in a world full of instant self-gratification and we have little patience to wait or delay access to our “treats”. Almost everything nowadays is at a click of a button – literally! It is so difficult to say no to those appealing coupons and “must-have-it” deals. Everything around us attempts to help us get what we want faster – instantly, if possible. We want faster cars, faster computers, readily available food, easy access to the movie we want to see, appliances that work without problems, etc. While this may appear as a very appealing benefit of the modern society, it also undermines our ability to manage our frustration, when we do NOT get what we want immediately. Continue reading
How can you prevent relapse?
Henry Steinberger, Ph.D.
Relapse prevention is essential in recovery from chemical and behavioral addictions. Why? Because addiction has been found to reoccur more often when steps are not taken to cope with the cravings, urges, peer pressures, situational cues, bodily discomforts, neuro-biological changes, and other factors which pave the way for slips and relapses.
Therefore, we regard relapse as a “normal” (though distinctly undesirable) possibility on the road to recovery. When you choose to view a relapse as a mistake, grist for the mill, a learning opportunity and a discrete single event rather than viewing it as a total failure and as evidence predictive of failures, then your chances for success increase greatly.
“The person who really thinks, learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.” – John Dewey
Top 10 relapse prevention strategies
1. Learn to willingly accept your mind – The first step to preventing relapse is to Continue reading
I Want It, and I Want It Now!
by Alina Boie, M.S.
We live in a world full of instant self-gratification and we have little patience to wait or delay access to our “treats”. Almost everything nowadays is at a click of a button – literally! It is so difficult to say no to those appealing coupons and “must-have-it” deals. Everything around us attempts to help us get what we want faster – instantly, if possible. We want faster cars, faster computers, readily available food, easy access to the movie we want to see, appliances that work without problems, etc. While this may appear as a very appealing benefit of the modern society, it also undermines our ability to manage our frustration, when we do NOT get what we want immediately.
If you ever had trouble finishing something, postponing a project that was already overdue, then you might suffer from what Albert Ellis jokingly called “can’t-stand-it-itis”. We all have it! Every time we avoid short-term frustrations such as cleaning a closet, writing a paper, etc., we are actually feeding our frustration intolerance. This may lead to Continue reading