Anxiety articles

When stress continues after the event, it can progress to anxiety.  Your fear or worry does not go away and can get worse over time. It can influence your life and can interfere with daily activities like studying and work.

High chances are you’re struggling with lockdown fatigue —the inevitable psychological fallout of Covid-19 and all it has brought with it. It’s the reason so many people are feeling exhausted, irritable, drained of energy and motivation — when they’re doing less than ever.  The way in which our lives have transformed in such a short space of time has heavily impacted our daily routines, as many individuals no longer have to wake up at a certain time in order to be punctual for work or college. With such unending disruption to our normal lives, affecting every activity and social interaction we have, it is important to focus on what we can control. So, what can we do to address some of this lethargy?  The routines in our daily lives can be a good place to start as these will give us a structure to hang our day upon and bring us a guaranteed level of certainty, which is so lacking right now: Don’t be so hard on yourself One of the most common things people do when they are experiencing fatigue is beat themselves up for not doing more.  This is counter-productive and results in feeling even more downbeat about lacking motivation.  Instead, tell yourself that the feelings of lethargy will pass and are only temporary.  Give yourself a break – stay in bed a little bit longer, stay up watching TV a little later and eat whatever gets you through that day.  The key thing here is this is a temporary situation. Give yourself the day off and start afresh the next morning. Refresh your routines It’s fair to say that as we are all feeling drained and despondent, thinking “what’s the point” with it all, it would be easy to allow the routines that give us structure and meaning in our day can be discarded too quickly.  It is important to adapt and refresh these instead. Changing small details about our routines can make them easier to stick to - taking a walk outside before you start your day, introducing a no-screen coffee break during your morning, or committing to making a connection with one friend or family member every day – either a phone call, social media connection or email.   Equally, so all the days don’t blend into one, create new routines for different days – yoga on Monday and Sunday, gardening on Tuesdays, baking on Thursdays, pampering spa nights on Fridays and so on.  The trick here is to break the monotony but not the positive habits that bring us comfort. Get up and move! We all know the many benefits we can enjoy from a little exercise. It is the one sure way of elevating our mood – creating a bubble bath of chemicals in the brain!  Taking a 20-minute walk outside, building in some stretches or yoga into our day, or jumping into the sea if we have access to the coast will help to reinvigorate our energy levels. Incorporating any movement into your day is vital in counteracting the damage of sitting crouched over your laptop for eight hours or more. The most important aspect here taking it day-by-day and step-by-step. Change your mindset This is easier said than done but can pay dividends to our mental health. Instead of reminding ourselves how hard the current lockdown is, how bored we are, how we miss our friends and family, or how much we need a holiday, try practising acceptance instead. Repeating the same negative mantras can retrigger your despair and frustration. By reframing your negative thoughts into more positive ones of acceptance, life starts to look very difficult before too long. Learning about re-framing the negative from someone like Edith Edgar in her book The Choice is a good place to start. She asserts that happiness is a choice, and acceptance is a key part of this. This strategy helped her survive and thrive despite spending years in Auschwitz’s concentration camp during the WWII.  She explores how we can be imprisoned in our own minds and shows us how to find the key to freedom. As Oprah Winfrey said of her story: “The Choice is a reminder of what courage looks like in the worst of times and that we all have the ability to pay attention to what we've lost, or to pay attention to what we still have”. And, so to sleep. It cannot be overstated how important getting plenty of shut eye is.  It is the one single wellbeing routine that we can practice which delivers the biggest return on our health. An optimum of 7-8 hours allow us to enjoy 5 REM cycles which is key in obtaining that deep sleep so important in maintaining our circadian rhythms which keep us physically and mentally fit. Avoiding caffeine from 12 noon and blue light two hours before bedtime, while ensuring a cool, completely dark room will all help you maintain a great sleep routine. Dee France, manager of CA Support. Members and students who need emotional or wellbeing support, can contact CA Support on 01 637 7342 or 086 024 3294, by email casupport@charteredaccountants.ie or online at www.charteredaccountants.ie/casupport

Feb 11, 2021

We live in uncertain times and in a world of constant change.  We have to adapt very quickly to new restrictions and lack of freedom.  This comes at a price for our physical and emotional wellbeing. It is important that we focus on ways we can build our resilience and tackle our stress responses.  In the pre Covid-19 world, anxiety and depression were some of the most common mental health problems in western society, with 10% of us experiencing anxiety in the past year. With so much change in our lives, it’s inevitable that some of us will experience more anxiety now than we did before the pandemic.  Try these 4 simple techniques, to help ease anxiety and leave you feeling more relaxed. 1. 7/11 breath Closing your eyes and: Inhale to a count of 7 Exhale to a count of 11 Aim for 10 rounds of the 7/11 breath each time you practice This will help you feel calmer because the longer exhale stimulates the body’s relaxation response. 2. Altering the sensation Close your eyes and notice where you feel anxiety in your body Visualise what colour and or shape the anxiety would be Imagine how the colour and shape would need to change for the feeling of anxiety to be manageable and ok 3. Shaking off the stress When we experience anxiety, the stress hormones of adrenaline and cortisol run through our bodies. To break down these hormones we need to move, so shaking your body is a very effective way to release anxiety. Simply shake your arms, legs or torso vigorously, focusing on areas that feel uncomfortable. You could put on your favourite music! 4. Dialling down Close your eyes and imagine as vividly as possible a dial with the numbers 1 to 10 on it See or sense the needle registering at the number that best represents how anxious you feel right now Look at the dial and choose to turn it down to the amount of emotion you feel is appropriate to the situation CA Support has a confidential listening service and is here to support our students, members, and their families. Contact the CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or email:  casupport@charteredaccountants.ie Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Feb 02, 2021
News

"Ah, sure, it'll be grand" is an expression widely use in Ireland. Sometimes, however, your staff really do need help. Damian McCourt emphasises the importance of listening to your employees and offering support when they need it. “This is ridiculous,” I said, staring at the influx of work in dismay. “I’m never going to get through all this.” It was 2013, and I was a project manager with far more work than was good for me. I was feeling panicked. My manager looked across at me, shrugged his shoulders in a what-can-you-do sort of way, and announced, “it is what it is”. I put my head down, kept my mouth shut, and proceeded to work myself into a burnout. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I had just been ‘minimised’. Talking about our mental health is never easy. Even if your workplace encourages open discussion on mental health, the desire to appear capable, competent and – above all – strong can be a severe deterrent to asking for help. As a result, it often falls to the manager to ask if someone is okay. This is difficult even at the best of times. It requires planning, privacy and a careful, non-judgmental approach. Try doing this over Zoom with your locked-down kids, and you have a genuine challenge. The good news is that if you’re a careful listener, you won’t even need to initiate this conversation. People ask for help all the time – they just don’t make it obvious. Seemingly off-the-cuff comments on energy levels, mood and workload sometimes hide a call for help, and you can respond in one of three ways: Shift the conversation to you “Oh, I’m up to my eyes too! Wait ‘till I tell you what I had to deal with last week…” Shifting the conversation back to you isn’t helpful but it’s an easy mistake to make as a manager, especially if you’re feeling slightly stressed yourself. Do it often enough, and people will stop talking to you. Minimise the situation “Ah, it’ll be grand. We’re all in the same boat. That’s just the job. Man up and get into it.” Minimise is a put down, pure and simple. Everyone else is OK so you should be too. Pipe down and get on with it. For someone who is already worrying about their ability to cope, you’re doubling their anxiety by dismissing their concerns. Not only are you being supremely unhelpful, you’re giving yourself a harder conversation later on. Offer support “Are things really bad? Anything I can do to help?” We would all like to think that we’d be the one to offer support, and yet we all live with our own concerns and priorities. It’s easy to miss an opportunity to help. Remote working tools can actually make monitoring the health and wellbeing of your staff easier. Keep an eye on your Teams chat and watch for clues in email conversations. It’s easier to ask if someone needs help than if they are okay, and your offer of support might make all the difference. Damian McCourt is a freelance trainer and consultant specialising in workplace resilience, productivity and sensible leadership.

Jan 22, 2021

Each year in January we have Blue Monday, and it has been cited as the most depressing day of the year. However, it is important not to allow the concept to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps it is time to re-train our brain - maybe January could be the time for new beginnings. The days start to become a little brighter and we are a step closer to Spring and Summer. There is something re-assuring about the subtle change in nature in anticipation of better weather that can lift our spirits and encourage us to look to the future. With the current restrictions in place time is something which is not in short supply, so perhaps make plans and try to think about what we can do instead of what we cannot do. Enjoying an early morning walk Having breakfast with your kids Exploring, and appreciating, your local area Getting out in nature every day Embrace online learning Tackling that big DIY project and much-avoided clear-out Develop new gardening skills Learn to cook or bake Start to play an instrument Catch up with friends on Zoom Activity/Health Now is a good time to think about your health. Being active and having a healthy heart has never been more important. A regular walk will make a big difference and there is plenty of workouts or classes online, no matter what your fitness level is. Self-care Managing our stress and anxiety levels is essential and many people use meditation or yoga. But everyone is different, and some find painting or gardening works. Explore some options and find what works for you.  Dublin City Council has developed a great website with lots of activities and classes to keep us occupied and content during lockdown: Holding it together apart. Appreciation The New Year gives us time to reflect and consider our surroundings, our family, friends, and appreciate all that is good in our lives. It also gives us the opportunity to consider changing things which perhaps were not so good for us.    If, however, Blue Monday has made an impact on you then perhaps CA Support can help? We have a 1:1 confidential listening service and lots of other supports to help get your mojo back. CA Support is here to support our students, members, and their families. Contact the CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or email:  casupport@charteredaccountants.ie

Jan 13, 2021

 Stress and anxiety are often mentioned together, but they’re not the same thing. In fact, anxiety can be caused by stress – it’s what you feel when you’re uneasy about something, when you worry or when you’re afraid.Most people experience some level of anxiety from time to time. In many situations, feeling anxious is perfectly normal – if you’re taking your driving test, for instance, or going for a job interview. But once the situation has passed, your anxiety should disappear too. It becomes more of an issue when you feel overwhelmed by anxiety on a more frequent basis – or all the time.Anxiety can cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms, such as:Faster breathing or shortness of breathIncreased or irregular heart rateFeeling tired but not being able to sleepLight-headedness or dizzinessHeadacheFeeling restless, unable to concentrateSweating or having hot flushesFeeling constantly on edgeFearing the worst (having a sense of dread)Feeling that other people are looking at youNot being able to stop thinking about negative thingsNot being able to motivate yourself Anxiety levelsMild anxietyGenerally speaking, mild anxiety is the type that most of us experience on a day-to-day basis during certain situations. You may have an uneasy feeling in your stomach, and you may feel your pulse increase slightly. But anxiety at this level can also be beneficial, as it can help you to focus and increases your alertness.Moderate anxietyModerate anxiety is similar to mild anxiety but can become more severe and overwhelming, making you feel more nervous and agitated.Moderate anxiety can mean you place your complete attention on the thing or situation that’s making you feel anxious and ignore everything else around you. You may start to experience stronger physical and emotional anxiety symptoms such as muscle tension, sweaty palms, a shaky voice, back pain and changes in your sleep pattern. Emotionally you may feel more sensitive and excited than normal, and you may also feel less confident.Severe anxietySevere anxiety is the highest level, when you stop being able to think rationally and experience severe panic. You may feel afraid and confused, agitated, withdrawn and you may also find it difficult to think clearly. Your breathing may quicken, and you may start to perspire while your muscles will feel very tense.Anxiety disordersThere are also several anxiety disorders, including generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). Unlike being anxious about a specific thing or situation, GAD is when you feel anxious about lots of different issues, often for no good reason.Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a specific type of anxiety, where you feel very stressed or fearful about something traumatic that’s happened to you.Panic disorderPanic disorder is when you have panic attacks on a regular basis. A panic attack can make you feel nauseated, sweaty, shaky and lightheaded, and you may feel your heart beating very quickly or irregularly (palpitations). They may not be harmful in a physical sense, but panic attacks can be very frightening.PhobiasPhobias are also a type of anxiety disorder. You may have a phobia when you have an overwhelming or exaggerated fear of something that normally shouldn’t be a problem. Depending on what type of phobia you have, it can seriously affect your daily life as well as cause a great deal of distress.Social anxiety disorder – or social phobia – is a type of phobia where you have an intense fear of social situations.If you think you may have the symptoms of an anxiety disorder or if anxiety is a constant issue in your life, it’s important to get the advice of a qualified healthcare professional. CA Support has a confidential listening service and is here to support our students, members, and their families. Contact the CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or email:  casupport@charteredaccountants.ieThis article was kindly provided by CABA

Sep 30, 2020

In the same way that many of us found it difficult to get into a new routine in lockdown, it makes perfect sense that we will find it difficult to move on from there too. Remember, you have adapted and coped with change before and you will this time too. Understanding resilience and how to boost it will help us stay the course and finish the marathon. Personal resilience can be described as the capacity to adapt to adversity, while looking after your wellbeing. Resilience helps us to develop and maintain some balance in our lives during difficult or stressful situations. Boosting your resilience can help to protect you against challenging life experiences and prevent them from becoming overwhelming. AwarenessThis is about being aware of the situation and acknowledging what’s happening, as well as recognising your own emotional reactions and behaviour, and the behaviour of those around you.  In order to manage your feelings, you have to understand what’s causing them and why.Understanding that setbacks are part of lifeLife is full of challenges. The trick is to learn from any setbacks and be willing to adapt to change. Setbacks allow us to start again. They give us an opportunity to reset and to rethink our approach. This is an important life skill.Having an internal locus of controlResilient people tend to have an ‘internal locus of control’. It means they believe the actions they take will have an effect on the outcome of an event. It’s important for our mental wellbeing that we feel we have the power to make choices that will affect our situation, our ability to cope and our future. Ask yourself, ‘what can I do about this?’There will be occasions when the answer to the question is ‘nothing’. However, analysing the situation gives you a sense of control. It highlights your choices. Very often the list of things you can do will far outstrip the list of those you cannot. Strong problem-solving skillsAs we move out of lockdown it’s essential to calmly look at problems as they appear, explore potential solutions and work towards a successful outcome. Early on there may be a temptation to attempt to do too much, too soon.List a maximum of 5 things you’d like to achieve each day, put them in order of priority and then address them in that order. Stop regularly to ask yourself, ‘how is what I am currently doing contributing to what I want to achieve?’ At the end of each day, reflect positively on your achievements.Strong social connectionsCoronavirus has changed the way we socialise. Many of us will have made greater use of social media, many will have supported vulnerable people and some of us will, maybe for the first time in a long time, have spent quality time with our family.Research has highlighted for some time that stronger social connections in our lives increase feelings of happiness and self-worth. Those connections are valuable, so make time to interact with people in your life after lockdown. Volunteering helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety, makes you feel happier, increases your self-confidence and provides a sense of purpose. This could be a habit to take with you to boost your wellbeing as we move into the future.If you’ve been feeling isolated, use this exit as an opportunity to make a change. Perhaps join a club, take up a sport or re-engage with old friends.See yourself as a survivor, not a victimInstead of focussing on the negatives, focus on the positives as we emerge from lockdown and see yourself as a survivor. Ask yourself, ‘what opportunities does this situation present?’ whenever you’re faced with a difficult choice or situation.Ask for helpWhile being resourceful is an important part of resilience, it is also essential to know when to ask for help.If you’re struggling, you won’t be the only one. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year.  Far too many people wait too long before seeking help, especially men.  For all your practical and emotional needs, contact our in-house CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or via email: CASupport@charteredaccountants.ieArticle written by Richard Jenkins, Behavioural Psychologist and kindly provided by CABA

Aug 20, 2020