Woman eating her nails becouse of stressAnxiety is a normal human response to dangerous situations. When we find ourselves at risk, our heart beats faster to provide more blood to our limbs, preparing us to fight the threat or run away. It is one of the bodies natural mechanisms that helps us survive.

Anxiety becomes a problem when we experience it in places where we are safe and there is no threat. For instance, we would expect a high level of anxiety if we were walking along a tight rope stretched between two high rise buildings. We would not expect to experience anxiety when walking between two aisles in the super market. Yet many people experience high levels of anxiety in normal,  everyday situations.

Some people experience anxiety about leaving the home, others about driving after being involved in an accident, some when they see an insect crawling on the window, and others about catching a disease from their surroundings. In everycase, anxiety can be debilitating.

Counselling can help with high levels of anxiety by exploring what triggers these responses and then gently identifying ways to train ourselves to keep our emotions under control. This may be through changes in thinking, changes in behaviour or a gradual exposure to the trigger. Breathing and relaxation exercises help reduce the severity of a panic attack when the signs point to one coming on, and meditation can strengthen us against anxiety ever being a problem in the future.

If you are experiencing high levels of anxiety, try this simple breathing/meditation exercise three or four times a day:

1. Take a long, deep breath and hold it for four seconds
2. As you hold the breath, say to yourself (out loud or in your head) “Be still…”
3. Slowly breath out and hold for another four seconds
4. As you hold, be still, listening only to your own heart beat
5. Repeat for two minutes
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