Now it is customary to say that “we live in difficult times.” This is such a hackneyed phrase that already sounds a little vulgar. But it’s true: we are living through a period that requires a lot of strength in order to adapt. That is why it is so difficult for us.

Learn how to recognize anxiety and what to do about it with  Irina Parfenova  , a certified Gestalt therapist, author and leader of therapeutic projects. And we invite everyone to the  free course “It’s difficult for me” , where three webinars and many useful tips from experts await you.


How to recognize anxiety

Anxiety is a state of agitation. That very unpleasant feeling when the heartbeat increases, when the hands shake, when we speak louder or faster. At the same time, it is not very differentiable, unlike, for example, fear. Fear has an object: we are specifically afraid of getting sick, specifically we are afraid of losing something. And anxiety is such a very vague feeling, so it’s harder to work with and deal with.

How can we know that we are worried?

Palpitations, dizziness, lump in the throat, feeling of nausea, sucks in the stomach. Anxiety can hide behind irritability, especially when you’re struggling to not worry. For example, you are asked about something, and you answer something annoyed. This does not mean that you are an angry person, just that the question became a trigger – and you reacted. And sometimes a person, on the contrary, shows emotional coldness: he withdraws into himself and stops communicating.

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How anxiety works

Anxiety is born in the limbic system – it is a reaction to stress. Stress releases adrenaline, we mobilize, and the body prepares to fight or flee. In fact, this is such a biological mechanism that is created in order to help us survive. And thanks to anxiety, we survived and live our lives. But if nothing is done about it, this circle goes on anew, that is, there is too much anxiety. And this can lead either to a panic attack, or to depression, or to some somatic diseases.

Why do we worry now

Everything that is happening around us today causes concern. Someone has lost their job, someone is worried about their health, someone has discovered difficulties in relationships, someone has experienced an acute attack of loneliness and soul-searching. Also, old unlived traumas were updated.

Any turbulent time is fertile ground for the development of anxiety.

Indeed, in order to feel comfortable, calm, confident, it is important to know that we are in control of the situation, to know that we have the strength, and to know that the world is safe. And now everything says that we have no control, we are not protected and the world, it turns out, is restless. And every news, every collision with reality plunges us into this anxiety.

How to distinguish useful anxiety from unhelpful

If your anxiety is related to a real threat – for example, you really can lose your job or you have the prerequisites that you will get sick – then this anxiety is useful. It helps you cope and adapt to the situation you are in. It helps to become more active and overcome difficulties, to find additional resources: for example, to find some kind of job, if suddenly there is no work. If your anxiety is controlled, if you can switch, sleep peacefully, if you get worried, and then go talk to someone on another topic, then everything is fine – the psyche is coping.

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But if suddenly a phrase appears in your head that takes you to some terrible distance (as a rule, it begins with the words “What if?”), Then this is not very good. If you think a lot about death, if your life passes in these frightening fantasies, if all your energy goes into experiences, then you need to sound the alarm.

How to support yourself

We will tell you what not to do and what you can do when anxiety fills us from head to toe.

Worst Ways

First, let’s talk about the worst ways to get rid of anxiety. These include: alcohol, the sale of which has skyrocketed, junk food, which is jammed with problems, and various types of addiction, including virtual. Here are a few more.

Tactics “Do not worry and do not think.” Many also follow the “Don’t Worry, Don’t Think” tactic. This is what packs our experiences and puts them on the back burner. They can find a way out in the form of a psychosomatic illness or prolonged depression. But in any case, someday there will be a way out.

Gather information that reinforces anxiety. If you have a tendency to collect information that feeds your anxiety, then you should not sit on sites where this information is even more. News that confirms your fears will not help you cope with difficult experiences – on the contrary, it is what drowns you in them.

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Avoiding discomfort. Sometimes those who have been in an accident are advised to get behind the wheel as soon as possible: in order not to avoid discomfort, but to live it. It will be unsettling and scary at first, but it’s something that will help you cope and keep driving. The fact is that if a person hides from unpleasant feelings all the time, then he will begin to deprive himself of pleasure as well. Imagine that our life is a pendulum that moves from negative feelings to positive ones. If we slow down the pendulum, if we do not swing it, if we do not move in this negative direction, then it does not move in the positive direction either.

If an acute panic attack

If suddenly you have a panic attack or a tantrum, then there are very simple and time-tested ways to help get out of this state.

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1. Take 10 deep, slow breaths.

Focus on exhaling, exhale extremely slowly. Let your lungs fill with air on their own.

2. Look around and note 5 things you see right now.

Phone, pen, sofa, lamp – name everything you see. Then mark 5 sounds: the birds are singing outside the window, the neighbor is drilling something. Listen and notice 5 sensations in your body: hands tremble, hands sweat, heart beats. If possible, call out loud. Remember what year it is today, what is your name, feel – if you are sitting, then your fifth point, if you are standing, your legs. Any connection to reality you need now.

3. Shake your arms and legs.

When we are stressed, cortisol and adrenaline are released. I want to do something and run somewhere. And nowhere to run. Shaking will help to harmonize the state and behavior. Shake your arms and legs. If you have the opportunity to shout, shout. You can jump – this is what will allow you, firstly, to react, and secondly, to bring your behavior in line with how you feel bodily.

Useful questions

Ask questions. Questions to help deal with anxiety. Here they are:

How likely is it that something bad will happen? It’s better to use statistics. Are you using solid facts now, or are you feeding off the fantasies of your negativity?

If this all really happens, then what is your plan for this case? What will you do then or what do you think will be the worst or best development scenario?

What can you do now to avoid or prevent an undesirable outcome? You need to understand what resources you have now, what you can do right now in order to minimize any fines in the future.

How could another person explain this situation? Think of a calm and strong person. How would he deal with what’s going on?

Trick question: will it matter in 10 years? This question is useful in a situation where you are missing something. For example, you have wasted money and are very upset about this. Think about whether it will be important in 10 years. Perhaps there are some situations in which this question will be useful.

What else to do

It is important to remember that we are all different and we all have different tools to cope. Your task is to collect your own ways of dealing with anxiety. This self-help diary will help you ( we send it to everyone who watches the webinar ) . There you can write when you feel anxious.

It is important to be critical of information. Find a place to talk. Find someone who shares your experience without devaluing it.

One of the working techniques is to draw your feelings. If this method suddenly suits you, then you can paint and color pictures of your experiences. You can bring the situation to the point of absurdity: fantasize and laugh – humor will help you. Well, do not forget about the support of the body.


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