The point of this title is not to minimise or play down the impact anxiety has on the sufferer, far from it, rather to explain the ‘nature’ of anxiety and just why sufferers become so entrenched in the cycle of fearful thoughts and symptoms that is the quicksand of an anxiety disorder.

I specialise in anxiety and I understand only too well how debilitating anxiety can be, how it blights lives and can leave sufferers mentally exhausted, self-medicating with tranquillisers and alcohol and in some cases unable to leave the house for fear of an anxiety attack.

However, one of the worst things about suffering from anxiety is that whilst anxiety always begins for a reason: a prolonged period of stress, emotions you haven’t let yourself fully feel (anxiety is all too often a ‘lid’ over other unexpressed emotions such as grief or sadness), issues from childhood that haven’t been resolved (your subconscious mind begins ‘shouting’ at you through anxiety and depression – it’s a clever tool the subconscious uses to make someone sit up and pay attention), it all too often continues and the anxiety becomes a condition within itself: I call it ‘anxiety about the anxiety’.

When someone is suffering from anxiety as a condition, within itself, the sufferer often doesn’t know why they are anxious they simply know they feel anxious all the time, even though the original reasons for the anxiety may be long gone. The subconscious mind, which simply doesn’t understand time, has ‘re-set’ the anxiety levels at a higher level. It has become ‘hyper-vigiliant’. It is often diagnosed as Generalised Anxiety Disorder or Panic Disorder. A fear that the anxiety will never go away and that their ‘life will always be like this’ is nearly always a symptom of this too.

The client suffering with anxiety can start to feel quite desperate and all too often becomes obsessed with monitoring their ‘symptoms’. These symptoms can be obsessive thoughts about whether they are going to have a panic attack / feel anxious / if they don’t feel anxious when they will feel anxious again? / questioning why they are having ‘strange’ thoughts / why they feel ‘weird’ / whether they are ‘losing their mind’ or ‘going crazy’. There are often physical symptoms too, anxiety can have a profound physical affect on the body: racing heart, sweating palms, dizziness, shakiness, pins and needles, aches and pains and many more. Racing thoughts and intense physical symptoms ‘make sense’ if we are faced with a fear inducing situation but for the anxiety sufferer just thinking about these symptoms, having a fear of them coming on or checking to see whether they are coming on is enough to trigger panic. And then it becomes a very negative cycle indeed.

It works like this: when we experience any state our mind and body ‘remembers’ it, it keeps a physiological and psychological profile of it, for the anxiety sufferer who is constantly checking or worrying about whether they ‘feel’ that way they are unwittingly constantly reminding themselves of the anxiety state.

If we ‘fear’ feeling a way we will feel it. If we tell ourselves we mustn’t or shouldn’t feel something we will, just as if we tell ourselves we must or should feel something we won’t.

The paradox is this: anxiety goes when you don’t care whether you have anxiety.

It’s the worrying about and fighting of anxiety that keeps it there.

I think of anxiety like quicksand, the harder you struggle to escape, the deeper you sink.

It’s the letting go of the ‘attachment’ to the symptoms, and the acceptance of them, be it thoughts, feelings or physical sensations, that allows anxiety to dissipate to a healthy level.

My advice is simple, however it doesn’t mean that it’s ‘easy’.

For the anxiety sufferer that has continually monitored their symptoms and become very fearful of them, letting go of the worry about the symptoms is very much a ‘process’. It means continually reminding yourself that it’s OK for you to feel the way you feel, that even though it’s not pleasant, even though at times it’s really scary, it’s OK for you to have anxiety, it’s not ‘bad’, it’s not ‘life threatening’ and it doesn’t mean you have to stop doing things if you feel anxious.

Anxiety sufferers often wait for their anxiety to go before getting their life back, in fact the opposite is true, continuing with your life and allowing yourself to feel however you are feeling is what gives your life back and therefore allows the anxiety to dissipate. If you avoid things, your life shrinks and reaffirms to your subconscious that anxiety is dominating your life.

Obviously it is important to explore the original reasons for the anxiety and release and clear patterns and beliefs from the subconscious that potentially triggered the fears in the first place, but my first port of call when working with a client who has ‘anxiety about the anxiety’ is coaching them into letting go of the fear of the symptoms.

The really good news is that with the right attention and focus, anxiety and panic can absolutely become a thing of the past, no matter how debilitating the symptoms are right now. Hypnosis makes the whole process of recovery much easier. The feelings of well-being experienced in Hypnosis remind the body and mind of a more ‘helpful’ state and the suggestions made to the subconscious to not only let go of the anxiety, but also to the ‘attachment’ to the symptoms, can massively fast-track recovery.

If you’re suffering with anxiety and are struggling to get out of the ‘loop’, please be assured that anxiety is enormously treatable, I have worked with hundreds of clients, who prior to treatment really didn’t believe they would ever be OK again, yet have gone on to live very happy and fulfilling lives indeed.

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About Zoë Clews

Zoë Clews is the founder of Zoë Clews & Associates and is one of the most successful and sought-after hypnotherapists working in the UK today. She has spent the last 17 years providing exclusive, highly-effective hypnotherapy treatment to a clientele that includes figures in the public eye, high net worth individuals and professionals at the top of their careers. An expert in all forms of hypnotherapy treatment, Zoë is a specialist in issues relating to anxiety, trauma, self-esteem and confidence. She works with nine Associates who are experts in their own fields and handpicked for their experience and track records of success, providing treatment for an extensive range of conditions that include addiction, weight loss, eating disorders, relationships, love and sex, children’s issues, fertility problems, phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders and sleep issues.  She takes inspiration from her own emotional journey and works with both individuals and blue-chip corporates who want to provide mindfulness support for their people either on a regular or occasional basis, or as part of an employee benefit scheme.

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