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Couple Anxiety: 4 At-Home Activities To Reduce Lockdown Tension

Posted June 29th, 2020

Anxiety concept image

The stresses of COVID-19 are understandably causing a powerful impact on our mental health. Financial pressures, furlough schemes and even social anxieties are all weighing on our minds as we start to think about seeing our friends and families again.

However, for now at least, we are still in the midst of the lockdown, forcing us to stay alert and maintain social distancing measures. It is still, therefore, imperative we all take care of our mental health as a priority.

With this in mind, join us as we run through some anxiety-reducing at-home activities you can try with your partner. Whether you’re looking to strengthen your relationship or reduce your level of stress, the ideas listed below are a good place to start.

Cooking & Baking

By cooking up a dish that reminds you of your childhood, or baking up a favourite sweet treat can be an effective way of relieving feelings of stress and anxiety.

Since our sense of smell is so closely associated to memory recall, cooking and baking can quickly direct you towards your most cherished memories.

By reliving the scent of the bread that wafted through your grandmother’s house or cooking a dish that your mother taught you to make, you will work towards boosting both your and your partner’s mood.

Arts & Crafts

Being creative can be a fantastic way to reduce your level of anxiety. Whether you decide to pick up an old hobby, teach your partner a craft you know yourself, or decide to learn something entirely new together, there is a whole host of ways to be creative while at home.

Painting, sewing, knitting, clay work – whatever you decide to do, arts and crafts therapies such as these are a proven way of blocking out stress and enabling individuals to express themselves in a healthy manner.

Meditation & Yoga

While meditation focuses primarily on relaxing and repairing the mind, yoga helps strengthen the body and improves flexibility.

With a unique set of associated anxiety and stress-reducing effects, you and your partner can quickly learn how to control your way of thinking, slow your breathing and relax your mind.

Massages and Self-Care

Why not consider combining a few at-home therapies like aromatherapy and massages with your self-care activities? Run a bath for one another surrounded by relaxing lavender scents and use a variety of essential oils to bring you closer together during a massage.

Going one step further, you could even choose to pamper yourselves while in the same room as each other or perform treatments on another in turns. From foot spas to facemasks, pair any self-care activities you try with relaxing music and watch the stresses of lockdown start to melt away as you enjoy your time together.

Filled Under: Anxiety

COVID-19: 4 Ways To Keep Your Mind Healthy

Posted May 26th, 2020
Covid-19

After forcing millions of people to stay inside, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised huge concerns over the mental health and well-being of everyone, everywhere.

While staying on top of our physical health is obviously imperative right now, keeping your mental health in check is also vital, in order to ensure your brain is being consistently stimulated.

If you are looking for ways to do this effectively, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.

1 – Read With Caution.

While it may be hard to escape COVID-19 news at the moment, you shouldn’t believe everything you hear. With news outlets writing scary and often misleading headlines, it’s easy for information to spread around the web like wildfire.

Therefore, to control your levels of coronavirus-induced anxiety, try and avoid being constantly reminded about it. Only read and listen to news channels you trust, and keep your brain stimulated using various activities to keep your mind away from the latest updates.

2 – Keep Healthy.

Keeping fit is vital towards safeguarding both your physical and mental health. And, while going to your local gym may be more difficult right now, there are still a number of ways to keep active while stuck at home.

Whether it be an at-home fitness workout DVD, yoga in front of the TV, or simply dusting off your old Wii Fit, exercising will help you feel more energetic and upbeat about how you’re spending your time in lockdown.

3 – Practice Mindfulness.

Having been practised for thousands of years, mindfulness techniques, like meditation, tai chi, CBT and yoga, can help you make sense of what’s real while teaching you how to remain calm during typically stress-inducing scenarios.

From learning how to breathe in the correct manner to compartmentalising your way of thinking, mindfulness teaches you how to become a more resilient person while taking a firmer grip of your own mind.

4 – Try Online Counselling.

If you’re really struggling with self-isolation at the moment and are feeling overwhelmed or trapped by your own thoughts, worries or concerns, online counselling could help you get back on track.

Here at KlearMinds, while we are having to abide by the government’s current restrictions, we are offering an online counselling service to anyone who needs to talk about their issues. Whether you require couples counselling, help getting through a bereavement or a conversation regarding your mental health, our team of therapists are equipped with the expertise to help with a wide range of problems from wherever you are in the UK.

To find out more about this service, please click here or contact our team on 0333 772 0256.

Filled Under: Anxiety

COVID-19 & CBT: How to Improve Your Mental Health

Posted April 22nd, 2020

Coronavirus Counselling

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in many changes to our lives in the last few weeks, leaving many of us facing a varied array of emotions.

Whether it be growing fears over contracting coronavirus itself, cabin fever from being stuck at home day in day out, or a feeling of paranoia from self-isolating, it’s imperative to focus on our mental health and concentrate on our wellbeing over the coming weeks.

The lockdown has forced many of us to change our routines and plans, ultimately knocking our minds into an unfamiliar frequency. In light of this, it’s important to move with the changing times and reprogram our minds to ensure we can deal with anything that comes our way – a similar concept to that used within cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) treatment programs.

The principles of CBT work on the premise of altering people’s attitudes and behaviour, changing how someone responds to and deals with an emotional problem. This is particularly relevant when it comes to dealing with the mental repercussions of self-isolating; by recognising and understanding our own cognitive processes, we can alleviate the feeling of stress currently being felt throughout the nation.

Recognising The Changes in Your Routine

With our daily routines and timetables being disturbed, it can be easy to pay too much attention to our body’s defence mechanisms by worrying and panicking. However, by taking the time to recognise how our routines are being changed, this can help us to process these changes in a very different way.

Redefine your own routine and find methods that suit the adaption in a way which benefits you personally. Don’t let the lockdown take away control of your routine – set new goals and milestones to take back control of your day.

Understanding The Effects on Brain Processing

We all have an inherent ‘fight or flight’ mechanism that floods the brain with adrenaline as a primitive biological response. However, the coronavirus outbreak doesn’t warrant this type of response, since neither taking on or running away from the virus are viable options.

In other words, there is no correct response to combat this pandemic and it is therefore entirely up to you how you decide to respond to it.

Creating Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Through reflecting, recognising and reacting to our new environments we can start to slow down our bodies’ innate need to respond, giving us time to decide on new ways to combat stress that suit you as an individual.

Try and concentrate on things you already know alleviate stress; set a routine, get a good night’s rest and, where possible, bathe in natural light. Keep your brain active with various tasks, puzzles or games, and undertake mindfulness techniques. Create achievable goals, keep active and develop a new fitness routine.

By changing the way your brain processes events such as COVID-19, you can reduce some of the anxiety this could be causing. Re-align your thoughts and re-examine your attitude towards the situation before adapting your behaviour in a way that feels healthy and productive.

Our qualified therapists here at KlearMinds can offer expert support to provide a more in-depth understanding of how CBT can help with the challenge of maintaining mental wellbeing during self-isolation. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us today or visit our online counselling page.

4 things to do when you’re feeling anxious

Posted February 13th, 2020

Anxiety is a general feeling of unease, fear or nervousness that everyone experiences from time to time. Physical sensations can be very strong and include tension, nausea and a tightness in the chest. Mentally and emotionally, anxiety can affect the way you think about things, with everyday situations feeling frightening and dangerous.

Severe anxiety can take many different forms – from generalised anxiety to specific phobias, anxiety attacks and panic attacks – that can be successfully treated with professional therapy, so please don’t feel you have to suffer alone.

Here at KlearMinds, we offer Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as a highly effective treatment for anxiety. How many sessions of CBT for anxiety you need will depend on its severity, the length of time you’ve been suffering, the degree of change you wish to achieve and your level of self-confidence, among others. Why not make an appointment in confidence today?

Here are 5 tips to help you cope with anxiety:

1 – Take deep breaths

Feeling anxious activates our body’s ‘fight or flight’ response system; it’s our natural way to protect ourselves from a threatening situation. The bodily response includes the release of adrenaline and an increase in heart rate, all designed to help you become stronger and move faster in the face of an attack, except no attack is actually taking place.

Simply taking deep breaths can help your body to calm down and settle to its more natural equilibrium. Imagine you are blowing up a balloon of your favourite colour, taking deep breaths in and notice your stomach rising as you inhale to fill your lungs with maximum air, then exhale slowly. Repeat three times and notice how much calmer you feel.

Here are some exercises you can try. Above is a video with some breathing exercises for you to practise.

2 – Question your negative thinking

It’s easy for your mind to play tricks on you when you’re feeling anxious and your thinking can become unbalanced. Imagine the situation in which a friend has failed to respond to your email or text message. Are they not talking to you? Could you have offended them in some way?

It is this king of negative thinking that can easily fuel your anxiety. Before you accept any type of negative thought, challenge whether it is based on fact or opinion. Unless there is any factual evidence to support the thought, you may be getting anxious for no reason at all.

3 – Test your negative predictions

Sometimes, anxiety can lead you to jump to unhealthy conclusions about what you think will happen. Have you decided not to go to that business networking event because you are convinced no-one will talk to you?

Rather than make a negative prediction that then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, make like a scientist and test it out. Put your best foot forward and you may well find out that you were entirely wrong in your prediction.

4 – Face, don’t avoid, your fear

Anxiety is a highly uncomfortable emotion that no-one wants to experience, and it’s tempting to avoid the situation that brings about your fears. Take driving, for example. You may avoid getting behind the wheel of a car for fear of having an accident. How can you deal with this?

Facing your fear repeatedly, perhaps by breaking it down into small steps, your body will adjust and your anxiety will eventually reduce. Try taking short drives to begin with, then build up to longer car journeys over time.

Filled Under: Anxiety

5 techniques to help change negative thoughts of depression

Posted October 23rd, 2019

Positive and negative thinking crossword puzzle

According to the mental health charity Mind, one in six people per week report experiencing a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression in England. If you suffer from depression, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help you break negative thought patterns and aid recovery.

Research has found that people with depression may inadvertently suppress positive emotions with thoughts such as ‘I don’t deserve to be happy’ or ‘This good feeling won’t last’. This is called ‘dampening’, a negative defence mechanism to protect from potential disappointment.

CBT has been shown to help significantly with treating depression, allowing you and your therapist to work together to break the thinking error cycle and allow happy thoughts to remain. With the help of regular CBT sessions and additional self-practice, you can identify negative patterns and work towards leaving them behind. Here are 5 CBT techniques to help you.

1 – Recognise the problem and brainstorm solutions

Both journalling and talking with your therapist can help you to discover the root of your depression. When you’ve hit on something, write down in simple sentences exactly what is bothering you, then think of ways to improve things. One of the tell-tale signs of depression is the feeling that things will never get better. Making a written list of things you can do to address the situation – taking steps to join a local club to beat loneliness, for instance – can help ease feelings of depression.

2 – Write down self-statements to counteract each negative thought

Once you’ve identified the root problem of your depression, think of all the negative thoughts you use to dampen any positive thoughts, then write a self-statement to counteract each one – for example ‘It’s OK to have a good day’ to replace ‘I am so depressed right now’. Repeat them back to yourself and commit them to memory, so that you can use them whenever necessary. In time, you will create new associations to replace your negative thought patterns with positive ones.

3 – Look for opportunities to turn negatives into positive thoughts

If your immediate reaction to something is always a negative one, you can retrain your brain to think positively. As an example, rather than thinking ‘I hate the colour of this room’ upon entering, find 5 things in the room that you feel positive about. It’s a good idea to set your alarm three times a day to reframe your thoughts into something positive. If possible, buddy up with someone who is working on the same technique, then celebrate your successes together.

4 – Finish each day with a gratitude journal entry

Starting a gratitude journal is a great habit to get into. Finish each day by writing an entry that focuses on the day’s best bits. By simply focusing on the positives and writing down what you are most grateful for, it can help you form new associations in your mind and create new pathways. Your day may go from ‘Another boring day at the office’ when you wake up to ‘What a beautiful sunny day it was’ when you come to writing your journal entry at bedtime.

5 – Put your disappointments into perspective

Everyone has ups and downs and disappointing situations are a part of normal life. It’s your reaction to each disappointment that can determine how quickly you can move forward. For instance, after a relationship breakup you may be blaming yourself thinking ‘no-one will ever find me attractive again’. A healthier approach would be to allow yourself to feel disappointed about the things you cannot change, but write down your lessons learnt and what you can do differently next time.

At KlearMinds we are aware that people with depression often don’t respond well to self-study, which is why we recommend a course of CBT with one of our trained therapists. That way, your therapist can teach you helpful CBT strategies to counteract negative thinking patterns associated with depression, then help you stay on track with practising the techniques at home. For more information or to book an appointment, please contact us.

Filled Under: Anxiety, Depression

Four ways social media negatively impacts mental health

Posted May 8th, 2019

Social media concept image

We all do it. Whenever you’re out for dinner or drinks with friends, chatting away and catching up on old times, where’s your phone? That’s right – it’s either in your hand already or sitting face up on the table, waiting to spark into life when that next social media notification comes in.

While social media can be a great thing, as success stories like the ALS #IceBucketChallenge prove, it can also be problematic – especially when it comes to our mental health. We as a society are now more interconnected than ever, but we are becoming over-reliant on social media. Recent research has even found that the average Brit checks their phones an 10,000 times a year, or 28 times a day. That is an obsessive level. We are addicted and most of us don’t even know it.

It’s not just the addictive side of it we have to worry about either. Social media often gets described as a ‘showing off contest’, due to people being able to upload images that seemingly glamourise their life. When you compare your own life to other people’s filtered photos, it’s easy to start wishing your life was better, or equal to theirs, which knocks your self-esteem.

Therefore, while social media can be a great tool, its overuse can have some harmful consequences. Here are four more ways in which using social media could be negatively affecting your mental health:

1 – Productivity

Let’s face it, social media is a massive distraction. Even while I’m writing this blog, I’m looking at my phone every now and then, so it’s affecting my productivity. It’ll affect your efficiency too, taking your attention away from the task at hand. This will not only affect the quality and accuracy of your work, but it will also waste time that could have been used to complete other tasks more quickly.

2  – Inadequacy

Having untapped access to social media means that you are always plugged into and looking at what everyone else is doing. Whether it be friends, family or celebrities, you are constantly comparing yourself to others all of the time, measuring your own life against a glamourised version of theirs. It’s not really a fair comparison, so don’t get yourself down if you feel like someone else’s life appears better than yours on social media.

3 – Inactivity

If you spend all of your free time glued to social media, flicking through feeds and replying to friends, when will you find the time to go outside and do something more active?

Being outdoors and getting some fresh air is vital to both your mental and physical health. The relentlessness of social media makes it difficult to break away from social networks, creating enough time to exercise. However, doing this is imperative, as exercise increases endorphin and blood flow to the brain, which keeps you healthy.

4 – Isolation

Talking to your friends through social media is not the same as meeting them in person. While life may get in the way, making it not possible to see friends face-to-face all the time, social media shouldn’t be a replacement for a true friendship.

Thanks to social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, interacting with others has become effortless – you can now even wave to your friends on messenger instead of saying hello. As a result of this though, we are now spending less and less time actually with other people, meaning we miss out on face-to-face communication and physical connection. This, in turn, makes us feel isolated – our only way of communicating coming through our phones.

Here at KlearMinds, we understand more than most about the power social media can have on mental health. If you suffer from feelings of inadequacy, isolation or unhappiness, get in touch with us today and we’ll be able to help you through it.

Filled Under: Anxiety, Depression

5 tips to overcome your fear of flying

Posted November 12th, 2018

Fear of flying woman in plane airsick

Do you suffer from flight anxiety? Or are you generally nervous when travelling? Fear of travelling can be a type of phobia, which may stop you exploring new places or having fun with friends and family on holiday. Catchily termed by psychologists as pteromerhanophobia, aviophobia or aerophobia, fear of flying is thought to affect 10% of the population though some studies suggest that the figures may be much higher.

If your fears trigger excessive levels of panic or anxiety, it might be worth seeking counselling to help you overcome your phobia. Here at KlearMinds, we offer effective phobia treatment counselling, using CBT and integrative psychology to help people overcome their phobia. Why not give our team a call on 0333 772 0256 or contact us here to find out more?

In the meantime, we’ve put together some useful tips that you might like to try out – perhaps on a small journey first – to see which techniques work best for you.

1 – Travel with a companion

If you’re worried about flying on your own, try to arrange for someone to come with you. Having a travel companion, especially if they’re a seasoned traveller, can make a huge difference to give you that sense of security and calm, whether you’re navigating the terminal building and pass through airport security all the way until you board the plane. Make sure you talk to your companion about your fears, so they can be prepared to help you, provide emotional support, encouragement or distraction as necessary.

2 – Practise relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques can be very effective for calming nerves and the mind. Rather than focusing on what the plane, pilot or air hostess are doing, close your eyes and take long, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus your attention on something calm, perhaps by visualising a favourite place, person or event. Starting with the tip of your toes and working your way up, tense and relax each part of your body for about 10 seconds. Some people find that listening to soothing music is helpful. There are even apps to help you conquer your fear of flying!

3 – Have healthy foods and drinks

While junk food can worsen your anxieties, healthy foods that are low in sugar can have the opposite effect. Complete meals and complex carbs will not only fill you up for longer, they’ll give you the energy to keep going all day. Stock up with high quality snacks like protein bars, granola, nuts and fresh fruit so you’re not tempted by the airport snack bars. For drinks, stay away from alcohol since this can potentially worsen your travel anxiety. Water is the best option on a flight. Offering plenty of hydration, there’s no alcohol, no sugar and no caffeine to cause energy highs/lows.

4 – Exercise before you travel

Sitting around and doing nothing while you wait for your flight is likely to increase your nervous energy and raise anxiety levels when it’s time to go. If possible, make time to slot in some exercise before travelling. From walking around the block to hitting the gym for a full workout, exercise will relax your muscles and mind so you’re distracted from the pre-flight jitters. If you’re waiting for a flight connection, why not take the opportunity to stretch your legs? Your body will love the activity and your relaxation techniques will work even better when you really need them.

5 – Remind yourself of the reason for the trip

Remember that travelling is merely a means to an end. It’s the method by which you get from A to B. While you may not be looking forward to the journey, try to use the powers of positive thinking to help you keep your mind firmly focused on the good bit: getting to the destination and seeing friends and family, or having a nice time on holiday. Ask yourself what activity you want to do most when you get there and who are you looking forward to seeing the most. Most importantly, are you going to get one lousy flight get in the way of having a great time?

Filled Under: Anxiety

3 soothing hot drinks to make you quit the caffeine

Posted September 12th, 2018

Woman drinking coffee

Like it or not, stress seems to be part of our daily lives. Whether it’s worrying about money, job, family or relationships, too much anxiety can have a detrimental effect on your health and wellbeing. But when your body and mind is running on adrenaline, it makes it difficult to slow down at the end of the day – and harder to get started in the morning.

To help them cope with their daily lives, many people self-medicate, consuming coffee or energy drinks as a repeated energy booster during the day, while using alcohol to relax in the evening. While this can bring short term relief, it doesn’t address the underlying problems and long-term use of artificial stimulants and relaxants can takes its toll on your health.

Rather than relying on caffeinated drinks to keep your energy levels from crashing during the day, how about trying healthier alternatives that help you rebalance the body and soothe the mind? In addition to paying attention to your diet and eating mindfully, here are 3 hot, calming beverages that might just do the trick.

Warm Milk

If you’re feeling frazzled and anxious, try a glass of warm milk. It’s not a new idea but it works. In scientific terms, milk packs tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin aka the ‘feelgood’ chemical in the body. Higher levels of serotonin in the blood will calm you down and improve your mood, while calcium and magnesium help lower blood pressure. If you’re not keen on the taste of heated up milk, add some good old Ovaltine – it’s high magnesium content is perfect to help you relax and get a good night’s sleep. Or try a Vegan variation called Golden Milk, made with coconut or almond milk, turmeric, pepper, coconut oil, cinnamon and honey.

Valerian Root Tea

Closeup of a cup containing herbal tea

Research shows that Valerian helps to boost the amount of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) in the brain, whose job it is to regulate nerve cells and calm anxiety. Valerian root tea has a strong sedative effect and it can also act as a pain killer. It’s best to have a cup just before bedtime – not everyone feels sleepy after drinking Valerian Root Tea but if you’re affected, don’t drink and drive or operate machinery! Beware that Valerian has an interesting aroma that not everyone likes, which is why you’ll often find it in bedtime tea mixes together with other soothing herbs such as Chamomile, Lavender, Fennel, Lime Flower, Passion Flower or Liquorice.

Decaffeinated Green Tea

Green tea

Green tea is one of the oldest teas in the world. Made from the unfermented leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, it’s arguably one of the healthiest beverages you can consume. Its health giving benefits come from phytochemicals, natural chemical compounds found in plants, including flavanols that give green tea its rich antioxidant content. Decaf green tea contains theanine, which will reduce stress and improve sleep. Make sure you don’t choose regular green tea, since the caffeine it contains may well keep you from sleeping.

 

Filled Under: Anxiety, Panic

How to get things done with the Pomodoro Technique

Posted September 5th, 2018

Pomodoro technique Image

Now the summer holidays are over and we’re all back at our desks, now might be a good time to address an issue that affects many people, both at work and at home: time management.

If you’re feeling snowed under with work or overwhelmed with responsibilities and are struggling to cope on a regular basis, productivity can take a nosedive. The result? Nothing gets done, you feel guilty, you start doubting your own abilities and the cycle can easily spiral downwards.

The Pomodoro Technique is one of many time management tools that can be really useful to help you break down your tasks into small ‘bite sized’ chunks. Whether your in-tray always seems to be overflowing, you’re suffering from work stress or are a self-confessed procrastinator, give this technique a try and see if you can use it to improve your productivity.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

This time management method was developed in the late 1980s by Italian entrepreneur and software developer Francesco Cirillo. The aim is to work with the time you have rather than against it. Using a ‘Pomodoro Timer’, break your workday into 25-minute chunks – each interval unit is 1 pomodoro – punctuated by 5-minute breaks. After 4 pomodoros, take a longer break of 15-20 minutes.

The timer can be a smartphone app, an alarm clock or any accurate timer device. Cirillo originally used a kitchen timer in the shape of a tomato, hence the name – pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato. There are plenty of Pomodoro Timer Apps available.

Alternatively, YouTube has a number of interesting videos you can use including silent ones:

Some with ocean waves as background ‘white noise’:

Or soothing classical music:

How does this help you?

The idea behind the technique is to instill a sense of urgency into your workday, setting yourself goals and targets to be met within the natural rhythm of the human attention span which is about 20-25 minutes. Rather than feeling that you have endless time to get things done during the day, but then squandering precious hours working ineffectively or being distracted, working within a pomodoro focuses the mind to help you make progress on the task in hand.

No more scrolling through Facebook or a quick look on Amazon, reading clickbait or replying to non-urgent emails. Instead, your mind will be fully zoned in on whatever project you’re working on, knowing you only have to concentrate for 25 minutes before you can have a break.

What’s more, the pre-planned rest times really help to eliminate that frazzled, burnt out feeling many people experience at the end of the working day. Using the Pomodoro technique stops you from spending hours in front of the computer without moving, since the timer reminds you to get up and take regular breaks from the desk.

At KlearMinds, we have a team of highly qualified and experienced counsellors, psychotherapists and life coaches ready to help you with any concerns that may be troubling you including stress management, career advice and self-confidence issues. If you feel that it would help to talk to someone who may be able to help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Filled Under: Anxiety

Are you afraid of the big wide world?

Posted July 11th, 2018

Woman hugging a pillow

Are you apprehensive about going outside? Does your home seem the only place where you feel comfortable and truly safe? Isolating yourself from the outside world can become an unhealthy habit, which can cause feelings of loneliness, hopelessness and intense anxiety, putting your social life, career and mental health in danger.

Agoraphobia is the technical term for an irrational fear of going outside. Sufferers often have a hard time feeling safe in public places where there are other people, which can bring on anxiety attacks. It can be a tricky situation but all is not lost – there are strategies you can employ to conquer your fears.

Professional help may help you achieve your aims more quickly. At KlearMinds, our counsellors and psychotherapists are trained in a wide range of therapies, meaning we can tailor our approach to best suit your personality to help you achieve lasting change. We can even meet you via Skype or FaceTime, if that’s easier for you than coming to see us in person.

Meanwhile, here are 5 tips to help you gradually get more comfortable outside the safety of your home.

1 – Ask a friend to come along

If you really dread having to go outside and do things, ask a trusted friend, partner or relative to help you integrate slowly with the outside world. Place your trust in the process and build positive feelings every time you go outside to override the feeling of fear. Try to rid your fears one social situation at a time to lessen the tension you associate with outside stimuli, and replace negative thoughts with positive experiences. Eventually, with practice, your anxiety levels will subside.

2 – Use music to ease the transition

Try listening to some of your favourite music every time you leave the house. Put your headphones on and choose some songs that inspire and uplift, so that you associate your outing with a positive experience. You can use your music as a kind of safety blanket to cocoon you from the outside world, lessening the tension you may otherwise feel.

3 – Take a book with you

Next time you have to wait for the bus or at the dentist’s, bring a book to occupy yourself and shield yourself from the outside stimuli of having people around you. It’s a clever strategy that you can use anywhere. What’s more, if you bring a book that you’re in the middle of reading, you’ll be too engrossed in the story to be worried about what’s happening around you.

4 – Play games on your phone

Many people pull out their smartphones when they’re bored – you can do the same when you’re feeling scared or anxious. Put a couple of favourite games on your phone that you can turn to in an effort to put your mind at ease. Even if you want to interact with other people, you can do it in little steps, using the phone as a ‘crutch’ whenever necessary. Phone games can also be a godsend when you’re having to go on long trips.

5 – Research and plan your trips

If the great unknown of what you might find outside worries you, take away the fear by doing as much planning and research as you can beforehand. Check out maps and street views and other online ‘reconnaissance’ to help you visualise what it will be like. Plan the route so you know exactly how to get there and back. Knowing your surroundings (and how to get back to safety in case of sudden anxiety) will go a long way to making you feel less insecure.

Filled Under: Anxiety

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