Welcome to Western Sydney Business Access

 fb tw yt in 



5 simple ways that might help
ANXIETY is such a prevalent issue in our busy and fast-paced lives. Not to mention with adverse events like floods, bush fires and viruses.
The pressure to keep up with and adjust to what seems like ever-changing conditions on top of managing our busy lives, family commitments, job pressures etc, it is so common to experience stress and anxiety. It has become the ‘new normal’ for many. 
Ideally it shouldn’t be this way. The way we live is, in many ways, unnatural but it is the norm. So how do we adapt and respond instead of reacting and needlessly suffering? 
Being realistic, the world we live in is here to stay and we can resist it and wish it all away if we want to, but this isn’t helpful and such thinking only serves to exacerbate stress and anxiety.
So, what can we do? First of all, anxiety, what is it? Unlike what you may think, it is not an emotion alone, like fear. Fear is often a part of it, yes. However, anxiety is not an emotion, it is a responsive state. 
Technically it’s called an affective state. This state is otherwise known as the stress response or more commonly – the flight/fight response. To illustrate simply, when we perceive a threat (either in reality, or imagine it), certain nervous system processes are triggered. 
These processes are essentially about mobilising us to take refuge (avoid) or confront a threat. 
The problem can be, and this is what many of us struggle with, is that there isn’t an actual life-endangering threat, and so we end up feeling almost paralyzingly stuck in limbo between avoiding and confronting our threat (real or imagined). 
Moreover, many people with anxiety often ‘create’ anxiety just by thinking about stress. 
This is the great tragedy of many anxiety disorders and why it can be so pervasive is that people are anxious because of the way they are thinking about things. 
The plot thickens too because in a physical affective state, people just keep on thinking about what makes them anxious which in turn keeps making them feel anxious. It’s one awfully vicious cycle. 
What can you do if and when you’re anxious? Here’s some simple tips and things to try right away. These are evidence-based and what I teach my clients:
1. Calming the body is always the first step – calm the body and the mind shall follow. Notice your breath right now. Focus on breathing into your belly. Feel the belly rise not the chest. Imagine a balloon is in your belly and inflate it. This visual helps. Consciously keep breathing like this whenever you’re anxious. This reverses the flight/fight nervous response
2. Tapping just under the left collar bone. There’s a sensitive spot you’ll notice. Just gently tap this spot. This is based in Chinese acupressure. You’ll notice this is a similar action to soothing a crying baby. We are soothing and reassuring ourselves.
3. Look around – identify and name 5 things you can see; then 4 different things; 3 other different things and so on. Rinse and repeat. This activates the executive centre of the brain. Works a bit like distraction but is also a form of grounding and reality-checking. This one is good for social anxiety.
4. Mindset - try once you’ve tried the others and the body anxiety feelings have reduced a bit. Journal and make note/s of what you’re anxious about. Try to reframe the thoughts; reassure yourself; gently challenge the way you may be thinking; remind yourself pf past wins or overcoming challenges. Reassure yourself and mind that these are just thoughts and feelings.
5. Finally, take action! Action always helps. Avoidance maintains anxiety. Identify the thing you’re anxious about. Deal with it and act if possible. Working on problems and getting them off your chest means you’re not worried about them anymore. Have goals and work on them daily. Positive actions are always a great preventor for anxiety and stress. And of course talking about what you’re feeling to a friend can often be helpful.
These singularly or in combination help most people but require practise and prevention is better than intervention, so try them now or anytime so they become familiar and easier to apply and more likely to help if and when you feel really stressed or anxious. 
If anxiety and stress persist and/or is causing ongoing difficulties in your life please see your GP for advice or engage the help of a mental health professional.
Marcus Whelan is a Registered Psychologist and Mental Fitness Coachwith 10+ years’ experience in private practice. He holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in psychology and education. Visit: www.marcuswhelanpsychology.com.au


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

Access News is a print and digital media publisher established over 15 years and based in Western Sydney, Australia. Our newspaper titles include the flagship publication, Western Sydney Express, which is a trusted source of information and for hundreds of thousands of decision makers, businesspeople and residents looking for insights into the people, projects, opportunities and networks that shape Australia's fastest growing region - Greater Western Sydney.