COLUMN: Mind matters

Advertisement feature by Daisy Dixon at Chrysalis

Daisy Dixon, founder and psychotherapist at Chrysalis, talks about anxiety.

WE all experience anxiety. Everyone’s experience will differ but most people will feel anxious daily, as they would any other emotion.

It’s a normal reaction to stresses and can be managed with no real impact on day-to-day life.

However, when anxiety becomes disproportionate, feels impossible to manage your response, interferes with day-to-day living and lasts weeks or months, it may indicate that you have an anxiety disorder, and an appointment with your GP is the first step to getting support.

It’s helpful to think of anxiety as the emotion we feel when we are worried, nervous or afraid.

It might be triggered by the stress of something happening that day or already happened. At other times it can be an imagined threat or something that might or might not happen in the future.

Anxiety can also feel more intense when we consume alcohol, cocaine, or other drugs.

Symptoms can be physical or mental. Mental symptoms can include, racing thoughts, unhelpful repetitive thoughts, trouble sleeping, feeling numb or ‘impending doom’. Physically, you may feel a racing heart, dizziness, irregular breathing or a lack of energy.

It is important to know not only your triggers and symptoms, but also how to work through the anxiety and make it feel less intense.

A helpful place to start is by understand what is making you feel anxious, writing down your thoughts and figuring out how to respond to it.

It can also be helpful to think of other emotions we are feeling as well. The more we understand and accept our feelings, the less intense the anxiety can become.

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) can also be very effective. Try this six-step process and see if you can reduce the intensity of your anxiety:

Step 1 – Identify the source of the anxiety. Ask yourself: Why am I feeling anxious?

Step 2 – Identify the unhelpful beliefs you have about yourself and the situation. Ask yourself: What do you know about the scenario that is fuelling the anxiety?

Step 3 – Identify unhelpful repetitive thoughts that are strengthening the anxiety. Ask yourself: What are the unhelpful repetitive thoughts?

Step 4 – Challenge the unhelpful repetitive thoughts. Ask yourself: How can I balance these thoughts? What disproves these thoughts? What can I remind myself to make these thoughts feel less intense?

Step 5 – Breathe. Engage in some deep breathing. Breathe in for five seconds and out for five. If you can, breathe in the through the nose and fill the lower parts of your lungs with air (belly breathing), pushing your belly out as you breathe in and breathing out through mouth pulling your belly in.

Breathing slowly and calmly can help calm the mind and muscles, which can reduce the intensity of the feeling of anxiety.

Step 6 – Develop a balanced thought. Ask yourself: What are the balanced thoughts, the resolution, that realistically reflect the situation? Does the anxiety feel less intense?

For more information and support with any mental health related issues, email

In September, I will be delivering a four-week, online course looking at post-pandemic anxiety. For more information, please get in touch.

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