Anxiety and how to manage it.
Jacci answers some of the everyday questions she receives around anxiety, and explores how to manage it.
In this video Jacci talks about how anxiety can happen in different areas of our life and offers a new way of thinking about anxiety.
To buy my Exploring Anxiety Course for just £1: https://traininghub.co/course-special-offer
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Jacci is a Psychotherapist who specialises in helping families, parents, and individuals better understand how their thoughts impact their reality, and in doing so helps change those thoughts to create a better reality.
Jacci now runs a private membership club Living Life Being Human: https://livinglifebeinghuman.com With over 30 years of experience in helping people, Jacci has tremendous wisdom to share to help anyone struggling better manage their anxiety, with some of the key points being;
• Understanding how our thoughts shape our reality and how we can better manage this through curiosity
• Parenting and how to better communicate our feelings
• Allowing yourself to be human
• Website: https://jaccijones.co.uk/free-resources/
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jaccijonescoaching
• Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jaccijonescoaching
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Good afternoon, Good morning or Good evening, depending on where in the world you’re listening to this.
I’m in Lancashire in the UK and the sun is shining, and things are feeling quite good. For this week’s episode, I wanted to talk a little bit around anxiety.
I want to kind of do a bit of a trigger warning because there might be some things that trigger certain people around anxiety, but I also would like you to just relax and listen to this because you might get a little insight, or a little gem, or something that could possibly help you.
I run quite a few private groups on Facebook, I also talk in other people’s groups around my business, what I do, therapeutic principles. my understanding around certain things to do with mental health.
So I don’t just see clients on a one to one basis, I kind of get out there as much as I can, and offer as much therapeutic support and advice in as many places as I can to try and alleviate some of the stress, worry, overwhelm that a lot of us are going through and when I say a lot of us, that’s me included. You know, life’s thrown us all a pretty big curveball lately and even though we’re coming out of it, coming out of something can be just as stressful and overwhelming as going into it because we kind of adjusted to a new norm.
So I just want to give everybody permission to just take a breath, slow down.
I’ve been asked a question and I get this question asked quite a few times about specific anxiety. This question was around social anxiety. and I don’t want to, disregard or anything, certain types of anxiety, people ask me questions about social anxiety, people ask me questions about health anxiety, people ask me questions about when they feel anxious first thing in the morning. People ask me questions about why do I feel anxious after I’ve been out on a night with my friends, everything was fine, but today I feel horrendous.
I get asked questions about people that feel anxious when they’ve got to go out of their comfort zone, If that’s at home, I get questions by people about how do I stop being anxious when I am in my home and in my comfort zone. I’ve had an awful lot of parents contact me about children that are transitioning from primary school to high school that are anxious, I get questions about parents whose children are starting school who get anxious, I get questions about lots of different types of anxiety.
And one of the things I find that maybe isn’t that helpful is to focus on the situation that anxiety arises in, whether that’s because you’re going out because you’ve got to stay in because you’ve been out, because you’ve got to stay in because of because of because of!
We kind of get drawn into a cycle of unhelpful thoughts, I feel when we look at anxiety that way. So I just want to kind of put a new slant on it for a while and maybe look at anxiety, Full stop. However, that manifests itself for you.
The process of anxiety, the process that happens in our body and, you know, the thoughts and the feelings that go along with that are the same, whenever it hits us. You might have had times when you were younger, where you, you know had anxiety around social events, but it passed, and now as an adult, you might find that you feel anxious, more about when your children are going out and it changes, that’s the thing with anxiety.
Sometimes it’s like trying to catch water, we can’t ever fully understand it. What we can do is look at how it impacts on us and the effect on us, and once we start to explore, without the judgement without the criticism and everything. Just about okay what is going on for me and the first thing I want to say is that what is going on for you is perfectly normal for you and for everybody else that suffers from anxiety.
We’re not, you know, super susceptible to anxiety, there’s not one personality type that is likely to get anxiety more than somebody else there’s not, you know if your parents have anxiety, then you’re not more likely to get anxiety.
We can start to overthink it and overwork it, and become even more overwhelmed, how would it be if we just looked for a while, for Five minutes, 10 minutes about anxiety. I want to say as a thing, but anxiety isn’t even a thing, you know a thing in my mind and the way that I look at it is something that I can get hold of, it’s something that I can put in a box and carry away. I can’t put my anxiety in a box and shove it in a cupboard, it’s not a thing. It’s a feeling, and a human experience that we all:
1 – Go through at some point in our life
2 – Need it for our survival.
3 – Get bloody annoyed when we get it.
And all those things are okay, so there are no right or wrong ways to, to manage anxiety to live with anxiety, and some of the things I say to you right now might seem a bit different to what you’ve heard before, they might seem a bit unbelievable, they might seem a bit, ‘She doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about’, all of those are fine.
I would like you to just explore for a moment, you know, a new way of thinking about anxiety. I don’t want to preach, you know, stuff that you already know but I’m going to go back to basics and talk about my understanding of anxiety, right from the beginning.
I have been through anxiety in periods of my time I suffered horrendously postnatal depression, it got progressively worse with all three of my children and the last one I have mentioned that in, you know, previous podcasts and videos, I was off the Richter scale, I really did lose the plot there for a while, whether it was hormonal, whether it was because I’ve just given birth, whatever it was, it doesn’t matter. I don’t need to pin it on anything. I just need to understand where my thought processes were in that period, how I made sense of the experience that I was going through at that time. And if I kind of cut some of the strings, and the attachments that my brain made around certain things in that period of time, it kind of frees me up to just understand it as an experience that I went through in my life, and I might experience something similar at a different time, without having to go through the pregnancy, giving birth to another child, which is not going to happen.
So, what happens is the fight and flight, we need the, you know, the fight and flight reflex because it’s a survival mechanism, you know, if we’re going to step out in front of a car, and we get that rush of adrenaline and jump back we need that, we can’t be without that rush of adrenaline and cortisol and all those hormones and everything that happens to us, because it keeps us alive a lot of the time. The problem is in the 21st century is it’s triggered for reasons that don’t necessarily need our immediate attention, you know, if our email dings in the middle of another meeting and we can’t answer it, we can start to feel certain things bubbling.
For me, I know if my phone goes off in the middle of the night, I’ve got kids that live away from home, and it’s like, something’s wrong! That can be enough to start the fight and flight, that sudden rush of adrenaline. When that happens in the middle of the night, and I check my phone and see it’s just bloody Amazon telling me that there’s a parcel coming tomorrow or something, it goes back down to normal. That’s how it’s meant to work, something happens we get a startle, we get a fright, our adrenaline and cortisol increases, we’re going into fight and flight mode, we survey our surroundings, we work out what it is, we go back to balance, and everything’s fine.
The trouble is a lot of the time that doesn’t happen, because we can’t pin it on anything, what is social anxiety, what does that mean? Social is not a thing, it’s just another word anxiety is not something we can hold it’s just a word. So, it’s about letting go of all these thoughts that we have around certain things, and understanding that it’s a reflex, it’s my body reacting to something, it perceives as being dangerous. So, it’s doing exactly what it needs to do when it needs to do it, under normal circumstances. It’s when it’s triggered unnecessarily, and the reason often why it’s triggered unnecessarily, whether that’s around health, whether that’s around social, and situations, whether that’s around family or a person, a place, or an event, whatever it is. It is that it’s connected dots or it’s attached, the feeling and the thoughts with something outside of us. So, if I put that into some sort of context, and I’m trying to think of something.
If you are, or if you feel like you’ve got health anxiety, and I don’t know you’ve got a bit of a frog in your throat, and you try to clear it, that can be enough to start a chain reaction that your brain then starts to think, ‘Oh, what was that? Is that a sign of something? Is that you just getting a sore throat or could it be something more serious, it’s not a conscious thought that goes on. It’s your mind trying to work out, ‘do I need to go into survival mode for this or is this nothing, and I can let it go’ and it will always err on the side of caution because that’s what will keep us alive.
If you think about all of this and go back to when we were cavemen, it didn’t stand around thinking, could that big bloody thing behind that tree be a dinosaur or not? We legged it, we didn’t wait to see whether it came out from the trees, and it was two mates, one on the other’s shoulders, dressed in green pretending to be a dinosaur! You legged it, because that was the only way that you can survive, and it’s a similar thing with anxiety. It connects everything up in order to cover all the bases to keep you safe and to, you know, to keep you alive that’s, that’s its main focus is to keep you alive no matter what. And if you look at it, you know, the bigger picture, it’s kept you alive. Your social anxiety, your anxiety around going out or stopping in or being in a certain place or with certain people. You’re here now, you’re listening to this so it’s worked. It’s, it’s kept you safe. And if we can kind of look at things from a different perspective and a different point of view ,that our anxiety, or you know those anxious feelings are there to protect us. It is doing the best that it can. So, when we have that first initial thoughts of that frog in the throat, for example, it’s about understanding where the anxious feeling and ‘oh my god, this is gonna be really bad, and there’s something horrendous happening to me’, where it started.
If we can find the origin, and just slow the thoughts down. I often talk about being curious and using full stops. The reason why I talk about being curious, is it’s not trying to work it all out, it’s not needing an answer, it’s just wondering, and musing when you’re in a good place. If you’re in the middle of a massive panic attack, your brain has shut down, your logical brain is it’s really difficult to connect with.
I’m not sure if you’ve heard that saying where they say ‘You flip your lid’, literally, that’s it you’re in fight and flight and it’s just running on adrenaline and keeping you safe. That is not the time to start to be curious because I’d hazard a guess, it’s not gonna work.
What I say to a lot of clients who are going through an anxious period is, when it settles enough that you can start to think clearly, again, the mist clears, that brain fog, we’re not in that fight and flight, that’s the time to start being curious, that’s the time to start wondering what it could have been in your environment that triggered that fight and flight. Because, basically what happens is, it’s like, us calling 999, It’s like we’re calling an ambulance to tell them we’re in danger. And when the ambulance turns up or when the doctor with the emergency lights comes and knocks on the door and says ‘I’m here. What’s the matter’, you Kind of go, ‘Bog Off! Why have you turned up on my doorstep’. That’s what anxiety is. It’s the SAS, the SAS, yeah maybe even the SAS is coming down on the rope, swinging on the side of a thing, they’re coming to protect you, they’re coming to eradicate you or evacuate you from the situation, only there’s nothing to evacuate you from, you know?
That’s the beauty of this system, it can have so many false alarms. But we can trust that when it’s not a false alarm, or when we need it, it will still keep going, doesn’t matter how many times we get angry with it, it doesn’t matter how many times we’re trying to suppress it and stop it, when we need it, it will still be there.
I hope this is making sense. I sometimes talk about befriending our anxiety. You know that sometimes our anxiety can be like that mate at school that was just a pain in the ass, who just hung around when nobody particularly wanted them, (maybe that’s just my school years I’m talking about). But the more you bring your anxiety in, the more you understand it, the more you are – this is going to sound so radical – the more you are kind of grateful that it is looking out for you, the less it will feel like it needs to do it.
That’s how this works.
You know, people say, give me strategies, give me tips, five tips on how to reduce anxiety, five tips to get me out to where, you know this horrible feeling that I’m in now. When you’re in it, it’s about riding the storm, it’s that, you know, there’s been so many meme’s lately about you know, I am not in the storm. I am the storm type of thing. It’s kind of we can’t get rid of it once we’re in it, we just need to ride it out, and we will! 100% of the anxiety you have had up until this point you have survived, otherwise you wouldn’t be listening to this, and you wouldn’t be watching this video. So that’s the first thing I want to say, anxiety, you know you’ve had it for as many times as you have and you have survived every single one of them. Now I’m not saying it’s not horrendous when you’re going through it, I’ve been there and I understand that. But we come out the other side. And when we come out the other side, apart from being absolutely bloody shattered, and we need to, you know, just relax and regroup for a while because all those hormones have been raging, it’s exhausting we’ve, you know, gone through all the symptoms and everything. That’s the time when things have settled to just explore it.
If you’ve got a family member that suffers from anxiety. It’s quite difficult sometimes because often we don’t want to talk about anxiety because we’re scared that it’s going to trigger another anxiety attack. We don’t want to talk about anxiety when the person isn’t anxious because it might remind them that actually they could potentially be anxious and we overthink everything. I would recommend that we talk openly about any sort of mental health stuff, you know, particularly anxiety when we’re not feeling anxious, that’s the best time to do it, when we’re in a good state of mind. But you’ve got to feel comfortable in yourself to explore this to trust that, you know, even if it does trigger something that you will be okay at the end of the day. So that’s the first section of what I wanted to talk about.
The other section is if there are any hints and tips that I can give you, one would be first to look at the three principles which is a fantastic understanding, you know, kind of brought about by a chap called Sidney banks, there’s loads of stuff on the internet, so that you can look about it. I’m trained in transactional analysis psychotherapy, that’s my background and I love transactional analysis, but overarching that I do understand and use ‘The Three Principles’ which are Thought, Mind and Consciousness, and I’m not going to overwhelm you with that right now, but all I want to let you in on is, the little secret, the special little secret around all mental health stuff, is that, ‘Our thoughts create our feelings, 100% of the time’. Then we have a choice whether we act on them or not. That’s how it works. So, I’m not saying that you get up in the morning and you think, anxious thoughts. It’s not a conscious thing that we do. It’s the habitual behaviour, it’s the low level, just questioning type thing that goes on. I don’t know, you know, if you’re one of those people that does have heightened stress and anxiety when you wake up in the morning. One, there’s a perfectly good reason for that, going back to that good old bloody caveman, again, is that when we were cavemen, as soon as we open our eyes we needed to be on high alert. That was a survival thing, because just in case somebody had nicked the kids while we were asleep at night or whatever it is. So, as human beings, our hormone levels are raised, first thing in the morning when we wake up, that’s the first thing. We will all have higher cortisol and adrenaline, you know as soon as we get up, as soon as we’re all right and everything, you know, appears to be okay, it goes back to balance again. So, that’s the first thing. The other thing, if you’ve had that experience, I would hazard a guess, and again this could just be my fantasy, my story around it, that we start to scan. As soon as we wake up in the morning. ‘How am I feeling’, that can be enough to start the chain of events. Just that quick body scan, whether it’s checking. ‘ Have I got not got any pains in my chest, I’ve not got any increased breathing, which incidentally, you probably have because, that adrenalin increase that’s natural anyway, I’ve not got pins and needles I can move. Everything’s fine’. You’ve done the scan, everything’s fine, but you’ve already started, you’ve rung the ambulance basically, or you’ve got the phone in your hand and you’re ready to dial the number for it to come. That’s how subtle all this is. So, what I would love for you to do is, one, is if you want to know more about this, feel free to contact me. But the other thing is to just explore your own baseline, You know what are the things that potentially you think more of, what are the things that worry you more just, you know, when you’re in a good place. Journaling is fantastic for this, start a journal, just put your musings down in there. And, you know, journaling isn’t just offloading sometimes we can see a pattern in it.
You might have a holiday booked in three months time ,but you’re already putting little snippets in your journal about how that’s going to be and how it’s going to work out. So, you might already be starting to overthink certain things that you’ve got coming up, particularly now, because we’re coming out of lockdown, we’re going to be open to a lot more experiences that maybe we haven’t for the last 18 months. You know, we’ve all been in lockdown, and we’re coming out of it. Maybe having experienced different things in lockdown. But a lot of the time what we as humans tend to do is think that we’re coming back into the same world. We’ve changed, but the world is still exactly the same. ‘I’m just gonna slip back into where I was, and we’ll just carry on regardless’, you know, one of the things is, that while we’ve been changing, the outside and the world has also been changing. So, we’re not going to slot back into how it was 18 months ago. We’re going to move into a new way of being for a while, maybe. So, first of all I just want to encourage you to be kind to yourself. Second of all, you know, reach out, if you need something, then reach out to somebody, talk about things. The more we talk about anxiety and stress and overwhelm, you know from an understanding point of view, with more people, I think the easier it’s going to be for us all to talk about these sorts of things. And just be curious, ‘Be curious, use full stops. Try and catch those habitual thoughts and feelings that you do.
Another example of this, which has got nothing to do with anxiety at all. I’ve recently started monitoring my weight, lockdown has not been very kind to my physique, not that it was any good in the first place, but I always have sugar in my coffee. I’m a coffee fiend, I do drink an awful lot of coffee, and I always have one sugar in my coffee, but I’ve decided to cut out the sugar. I’m gonna have less processed sugar in my diet, that’s one of the things that I’ve made a decision about doing. The amount of cups of coffee, I have had to throw away because I have habitually put sugar in is ridiculous. I’ve even got now, so I’ve moved the sugar container to the other side of the unit, because it’s just like coffee, sugar, as soon as I see, as I’m pouring the water in. I kind of go, ‘Oh, I’m not having sugar anymore’. It’s habitual, reach for the coffee, reach for the sugar, there’s no conscious thought goes into it, and it’s a similar sort of thing around, anxiety, and our protection mechanisms and the things that we feel are safe and unsafe and the things that we want to do and not want to do, things that we want to project and not project all this stuff.
It’s all thought based. So just be curious about your thoughts, don’t be critical don’t, ‘why do I keep thinking that’, that’s just going to get you caught in a loop, just be curious, ‘It’s funny, yesterday, I thought this, whereas, today I’m thinking that, what’s that about?
That’s the only key, is that thoughts and feelings are transient, they’re never the same, we can have the same feeling, over and over again but it’s a different feeling, if that makes sense. So I can feel angry, all day long, really pee’d off with everybody and everything, but it’s not the same feeling that’s lasted all day long, because in between that, there will have been times where I’ve not been angry. So I’m still feeling angry, but it’s a different anger. It’s kinda like, the way I’ve described this ,because I’m not sure if I’m making any sense at all, is you can have 10 double decker buses that all look the same, that have the same stickers on the side, that do the same route and everything only they’ve got a different number plate. So, it’s the same feeling, as in anger but it’s not the exact same emotion, in the exact same time about the exact same thing, because we drop it and pick it up.
If you’re feeling, I don’t know whether you’ve ever done it. If you’re feeling angry and the doorbell rings and you’re expecting a delivery, you don’t open up the door like, you know, some horror movie, screaming at the person, I wouldn’t, well you might do, but I would imagine you will go ‘Oh, brilliant thanks a lot, thanks, have a nice day’, shut the door and then you kind of think, ‘Where was I? Oh yes, I was really, really angry about that,! And we pick it back up again.
So just be mindful of all of this, I get that I’ve just slung a heap load of stuff at you right now, listen back to this podcast episode, go back to the beginning, listen to my podcasts again from the first one, because I drip feed this all the way along.
Most of my episodes will have something around, thoughts, feelings and behaviours in there. Maybe anxiety, maybe stress, maybe overwhelm, but I’m sure something will start seeping in for you, and that’s the key to all of this, it’s just like the understanding deepening, our awareness shifts constantly, some days, this will make sense, other days, not a chance, it’s not going in and either one is okay.
So, I hope that’s helped and I shall be back for another fantastic episode, (she says), next week so take care and have a fantastic week. See you soon, bye.