By Chintan Girish Modi July 2007 Anxiety can rob you of health, peace of mind, and happiness. Here’s how to heal and take back your life Go SpiritualAnxiety is a dull fear at the back of your mind, which prevents you from enjoying life. It is the fear of losing anything that is cherished – dear ones, name, fame and status. To get rid of anxiety, you have to work on it. Think of the root cause of your anxiety. You must analyse it well, and ask yourself – can I do something myself? Do I need the help of a friend, guru, doctor, or psychiatrist? Once you recognise what the problem is, and get ready to deal with it, the road is easy. Life is meant to be blissful – full of relaxation, love and lightness. Here are some specific measures you can take to reduce and eliminate the feeling:• Removing your attachment to status and position will set you free.• Taking life as it comes puts you in a meditative state. People expect things to remain the same. They are resistant to change. To be free from anxiety, you must be ready to accept change.• You have to learn to be courageous. This will remove your tendency to get anxious for every minor thing.• Faith helps a lot, whether it is in God, your guru, or your own self.• If you surrender to a higher being, it takes away the feeling of responsibility. You feel calm.• Acceptance is very important. Going with the tide comes naturally to some people. Others have to cultivate it. Accept your life with confidence. This will give you the inner strength to be able to withstand any kind of calamity.– Deepa KodikalAuthor of A Journey Within the Self, and Teachings of the Inner Light Arnav Kapur (name changed), in his late 20s, is overcome with anxiety when faced with exams, interviews and performance. Despite his innate intelligence and capability, his overwhelming feelings have sabotaged his education and career. He finds excuses not to apply for jobs. Thankfully, Arnav recognised that he should do something about this. He is coping better with professional help from psychotherapist and soft skills trainer, Ameeta Sanghavi Shah. During the process of therapy, Ameeta found out that Arnav grew up in a middle class background. His parents are very education-oriented, but since they were busy during his schooling, Arnav was entrusted to a certain tuition teacher to be disciplined. Due to his lack of assertiveness, Arnav was often at the receiving end, while the mischief-makers went scot-free. He was not only shouted at and humiliated, but also beaten up. Therapy is helping him to be comfortable with himself. Ameeta Sanghavi Shah is helping him build his confidence, and heal past memories using Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and regression. Anisha Deshpande (name changed) is a young mother of two toddlers. She is what you might call chronically anxious. She gets worried about every little thing concerning her kids, even a common cold. Her reaction is generally out of proportion to the situation, and seems to emerge from a dread of losing her kids. Her extreme anxiety affects her throat, and prevents her from expressing herself effectively. With professional intervention from psycho-aromatherapist and life skills coach Minoo Ratan, she has learnt to recognise her triggers for anxiety, and is now getting healed through aromatherapy and bio-energy treatment. Understanding AnxietyAnxiety comes from a perceived inability to deal with uncertainty. One becomes insecure about oneself. It involves feeling helpless and ill-equipped to handle a situation. A number of reasons can trigger off anxiety in individuals – examination pressure, finding a life partner, having a baby, discomfort with one’s looks, being compared to others, waiting for medical test results, old traumas, guilt, etc. It often comes up at transition time – whether it’s a job, house, relationship, or changes in life cycle – because one is stepping into the unknown. In the case of a person prone to anxiety, the reaction is generally out of proportion with the magnitude of a situation. Ameeta Sanghavi Shah understands anxiety as a feeling of uneasiness, often indicating the onset of fear. According to her, it is related to concerns about perfection, performance, roles, tasks, and the future in general. It is associated with expectations, desire for certainty, and wanting to feel good and secure. She says, “In fact, a little bit of anxiety is helpful. We can use it to cope better.” This is quite true. Many of us get anxious before an exam, a public speech, or a business presentation, but this does not impair our functioning. The anxiety is short-term, and it helps us to prepare ourselves to act according to the situation, evaluate things for ourselves, and react to danger. It holds the potential for bringing out the best in us. Even seasoned performers do go through anxiety before going on stage. How to spot the difference between healthy concern, and potentially disabling anxiety? According to John Illman, in the book, Use your brain to beat Panic and Anxiety, an anxiety disorder may be indicated if a person has experienced some of the following symptoms more often than not during the past six months (when triggered by anxious feelings):• Restlessness, or feeling on edge• Tiring quickly• Inability to control feelings of anxiety• Difficulty concentrating, or inability to focus on anything• Short temper/frustration/irritability• Muscle tension• Disturbed sleep patterns (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless sleep). Alternatively, if a person feels anxious most, or all of the time, over a prolonged period in the absence of any of the above additional factors, this may also indicate the presence of an anxiety disorder. Forms of AnxietyAnxiety occurs in individuals at different levels. For some, it may be short-term, but it can cause long-term problems for others. Some people can alleviate their anxiety on their own by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Others are severe cases and require treatment, without which their anxiety will become progressively worse. The kind of anxiety that threatens physical and mental health is usually persistent, excessive and prolonged. When anxiety becomes intense, it can manifest in the form of panic attacks and phobias. According to Illman, a panic attack is a sudden devastating bout of acute anxiety. One experiences sudden, intense fear and feelings of impending doom, shortness of breath and chest pain. Phobia refers to an intense fear of a particular object or situation. Illman also draws attention to agoraphobia, the fear of leaving a place of safety. This can lead a person to avoid places or situations from which he might find it difficult or embarrassing to escape. Anxiety can also sow the seeds of depression. A very extreme form of anxiety disorder is the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). There are two parts to it – an obsession which is an anxiety area, and a compulsion which is a repetitive action giving you a sense that you have acquired control. Of course, this is not real control. It is only a sense of temporary relief. For instance, someone who is obsessed about preventing himself from disease might feel compelled to wash his hands frequently. This ritualistic activity gives him some reassurance, but it does not last long. In general, anxiety has adverse effects on the body, mind and spirit. The body tenses, leading to muscle tension. Increased palpitation, headache, acidity, indigestion, nail biting, dryness of the mouth, restlessness, sleep disorders, addictions and skin disorders are common occurrences. People suffering from anxiety disorders are at an increased risk from a heart attack. The person suffering from anxiety may engage in avoidant behaviour. He may also become irritable, because anxiety disrupts the normal functioning of his routine, and does not let him concentrate on work. If the mind is not clear or stable, one tends to make wrong and hasty decisions. It saps him of energy, and affects the people around. He can also get into deviative behaviour patterns like smoking and drinking. Freedom from AnxietyIncorporate these suggestions in your life, and you will certainly say goodbye to anxiety. • Making lists of tasks to do will help you remember and prioritise.• Use a diary or timetable to keep track of deadlines and appointments.• If your anxiety comes from being overworked, try delegating responsibilities. When someone else takes it up, don’t fuss too much as long as the work is being done efficiently. People have different ways of doing the same thing.• Practise self-talk. Tell yourself that you can cope with the current situation, despite the challenge it poses. Simultaneously, take a deep breath and breathe out slowly. Imagine all tension draining away as your body fills with new energy.• Anxiety is motivated by thoughts related to the past and the future. Allow yourself to enjoy the present moment.• Get more information on things that trouble you. That will deal with your unreasonable fears, and help you make better-informed choices.• Take a break, and allow yourself to recuperate at your own pace.• Carry on with your life, but suspend unnecessary concerns. Begin to ignore and ruthlessly discard what isn’t strictly your business.• Louise Samways, in the book, The 12 Secrets of Health and Happiness, suggests that turning anxiety into specific fears is helpful. If you feel anxiety as a generalised sensation, turn it into a specific fear, and do what you can about that. She writes, “If you are frightened of dying, work out exactly what bothers you about death. Is it the process of dying that worries you? Are you concerned about what will happen to your family? Do you have religious concerns? Are you bothered by the thought of your spouse m
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