Anxiety and Depression

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Anxiety – Taking Control With 5 Easy Steps

By | Anxiety and Depression, Counselling | No Comments

You have just handed in your final essay for university.  Two weeks have passed.  An email lands in your inbox from your lecturer.  They would like to speak with you at your earliest convenience.  Anxiety has just kicked in.

All of a sudden you go into a massive panic attack.  “oh my God, I’ve failed.”  Automatically you feel as if the whole world has come crashing down. Your heart starts pumping, your palms become sweaty and you start to think “OMG what am I going to do?”

Yet, you don’t know what the lecturer is going to say.  You don’t even know if there is a problem.  Maybe they are wanting to let you know that you have written an excellent essay and they want to commend you on your research rather than send it via email.

What you have done is you have catastrophized.  Those that suffer with panic attacks are more prone to catastrophizing.  You have a tendency to jump off the cliff before checking your safety harness.

It’s ok, many of us who have suffered with panic attacks still do the same thing from time to time.  Yet, knowing how to control the thoughts which control your feelings leading to negative behaviour is something to be learned over time.

How to start controlling your thoughts and stop catastrophizing.  This can be done through writing.

  1. As soon as a catastrophizing thought enters your mind, write it down.
  2. Write down what triggered this thought, what happened
  3. List your feelings
  4. Jot down the behaviour you have just experienced
  5. Finally, write down the reality of all possible outcomes.

It looks better on paper – correct?  You can externalize your feelings now.

Worst case scenario, the only way you could possibly fail an essay at university is if you didn’t answer the question.  As long as you know you have answered the question and followed the criteria then the likelihood of failing is almost impossible.

Usually lecturers will not contact you to let you know you have failed.

There is another way to approach this situation and that is taking control of the anxiety, fear, panic attack and work through a what if situation.  This allows you to face your fear head on and take control.

List your fear from the current situation.  Then list down what would happen if you failed the essay and what would you do.  Finally write down the likelihood of you failing.  If you hesitate and know that it would be unlikely then you have just taken control.

Of course it’s a little more complex than that but you get the general idea.  It takes a lot of time and effort to learn the techniques, monitor and apply the skills.  One of the most important things to do, and from my own experience is to speak to someone that knows how to walk you through this a few times.  Not only will it calm you down but put everything back into perspective.

Anxiety is very real.  We don’t have to let it keep controlling our lives.  Decide if you want the control back and take the first step.

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pamelaI am an accredited Social Worker and a member of the AASW.  My passion is about providing a unique service for anyone, anywhere, anytime.
If you need help or any assistance, you can Contact Me Now via my website or through start an email session now  

Pamela Vandersande
BSW, Dip. Couns.



Anxiety and Panic Attacks – More Than a Single Approach

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Your heart is pumping so hard you wonder if everyone else can hear it.  You start to shake on the inside and on the outside you start to sweat.  Your thought process gets out of control and you feel as if you may be having a psychotic episode; you become frantic, and distraught as though you are losing control.

Welcome to the world of anxiety and panic attacks.

As a holistic therapist, it saddens me when people are automatically put onto medication without treating the person in their entirety.

Anxiety and panic attacks affect us biologically, physically and psychologically.  Each area is not separate.  What affects one area, affects every other area.  It’s a chain reaction.  When our brain has a thought which then switches on our fight/flight response, i.e. should I stay and fight or take off, the body releases chemicals to deal with this situation.  Our feelings go into panic mode and we react and behave accordingly.

Unfortunately, if this happens over and over again the body loses it’s ability to turn off the ‘save me’ response.  The button doesn’t work anymore.   That’s when we are unable to automatically stop the panic attacks and increased anxiety response.  Our health starts to suffer and we feel powerless and overcome with anxiety and the inability to function like everyone else.

Video by The Mighty

It’s alarming the number of people going through the same experiences on a daily basis.  Approximately 2 million Australian are suffering with anxiety. This will increase in years to come unless we start treating anxiety more holistically.

These conditions sometimes trick people to consume higher amounts of alcohol.  They eat more and choose the wrong foods.  They tend to exercise less because eating and drinking is what they think will help their anxiety.  They lose motivation.

When dealing with anxiety, I work with each area of your life.  What do I look for when dealing with anxiety?

The main areas are:

  • Social issues
  • Family and relationships
  • Work and employment
  • Trauma
  • Current health issues
  • Current mental health status
  • Physical outlets such as exercise
  • Diet and nutrition

Whilst I am not a nutritionist nor a personal trainer I have spent over 20 years doing both formal and informal study into diet, nutrition and exercise. What I have found is that if you don’t support the physical with exercise, diet and nutrition, then it’s really difficult to support the mental health challenges.

Recent studies have shown that YOGA is excellent for many mental health conditions.  A really excellent article from Dr Mercola clearly illustrates the benefits of YOGA for so many issues.

I know that if you are trying to change anything it’s either all or nothing at all.  It’s not just a token gesture here or there.  It’s a holistic process. While we work on your mental health to retrain your brain we also seriously look at your diet and nutrition.  Feed the body what it needs. Most people will be depleted of essential vitamins and minerals which will ultimately lead to stress then the onset of health issues.  Throw in no exercise and what you are left with is a mind and body struggling.

The systems within the body do not run on their own.  It’s a well-oiled integrated system that relies on team effort.  Take care of your body and it will take care of you.

It’s not ok to just say “ok let’s work on your mental health.”  It would be like saying lets only put 3 tyres onto your car and see how it runs.  Obviously it won’t.  It’s only when you you start to get sick that you know your body is not happy and somewhere along the line you haven’t provided it with the correct nutrition, exercise and care.  Working to support your health with exercise, nutrition and diet will help to speed up changes for.  From these changes you will start to feel better, think clearer and reduce your anxiety and panic attacks.

When anyone is suffering with anxiety, it’s about addressing each area.  So while we work on your mental health you are also working on your physical health.  Sure you can decide to take medication straight up but your body will continue to suffer.  It’s OK to take medication if this is what is needed.  But, many a time  it’s best to err on the side of caution and take the holistic path first.  If you are after quick fix then the medical route is probably the best.  If you are after long term results then seriously contemplate the holistic approach.

It’s about one step at a time giving you the knowledge to do it forever.

pamelaI am an accredited Social Worker and Counsellor, and a member of the AASW.
My passion is about helping people change their lives.
If you need help, you can Contact Me Now via my website or through PlusGuidance.  

Pamela Vandersande
BSW, Dip. Couns.

Call me on 0477162296.  Enjoy a Free 15 minute consultation   Contact Me  

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