Category Archives: stress and anxiety

Anxiety Toolkit

Do you needs tools to manage your anxiety?

Wouldn’t it be great at times when you want to avoid situations or people, you could pick out a tool to help you? Imagine when anxiety strikes you try a techniques and it helps you get rid of that anxiety feeling. You then get on with your life. Rather than end up feeling destabilised.

This post will show you various tools to use. Some will work for you. Others will not. You need to find the ones that work for you. You need put them all in an imaginary box. Be prepared to try different ones at different times. Be open minded – do not dismiss an idea until you try one. Often one that feels won’t work for you, will work. If you find other techniques that work for you that are not mentioned – put them in your imaginary box too.

Do not forget…..

…..Praise yourself

When you find you are able to a technique that helps you stand up to your anxiety, then praise yourself. It is essential you stay kind to yourself. Keep reassuring yourself you are ok, right now and doing your best.  Celebrate every positive step you make, even the small ones. Self-praise helps up keep ourselves motivated rather than self-shaming. If you do mess up, don’t beat yourself up about it. Let yourself off the hook. Remember we are all a work in progress. Still growing, still learning.

In the anxiety toolbox are techniques that can be done by anyone and anywhere. Start tackling your anxiety today and take steps to freedom.

…..Get to know yourself

Get to recognise the onset of an attack. What does it feel like? What are your thoughts and feelings that warn you that your anxiety is rising and might be hard to manage? As soon as you start feeling anxiety then you can try one of the techniques below. You want to be able to manage it before it stops you leaving your house or avoiding a social situation. 

Anxiety Tool Kit

Count the colours

You can do this anywhere. With any colour. It helps you take your thoughts of your mind and become aware of your surroundings. I’ve picked yellow as it feels a cheerful colour but you can pick any colour that you fancy.

  1. Look around you and find something yellow. Pick something that is close to you or a yellow object that is obvious. Focus on it.
  2. Now look around you and find other yellow objects. Something big. Something small. Keep count of your objects.
  3. Sit somewhere quiet. Close your eyes. How many yellow things can you imagine. Keep count.

2. Stand up Straight

When we feel anxious we tend to make ourselves small. We try to hide away so that no-one can notice us. Instead you need to stand tall and imagining yourself taking up all the space.

  1. Put both feet flat on the floor with your weight evenly distributed
  2. Consciously straighten your back from your tailbone. Put your head forward.
  3. Take a deep breath and broaden your chest, and let your lungs expand.

3. Five, Four, Three, Two, One

This exercise is a popular when you feel a panic attack coming on. It is useful for when you are waiting around and help you feel grounded fairly quickly.

  1. What fivethings can you see? Count five items on one hand. It can be anything – a car, crack in the pavement, your feet.
  2. What four things can you hear? Listen for four different sounds around you, and again count them on your hand one at a time.
  3. What Three things can you smell?
  4. What two things can you feel?
  5. What one thing can you taste?

4. Hands on

This exercise is useful if you find focusing on your breath does not help you. By focusing on a sensation it helps stop your mind racing.

  1. Take one hand and hold it in front of you. Have the fingers relaxed.
  2. Place the first fingers of the other hand on the base of your thumb. Slowly move your finger up the side of your thumb as you breathe in. Pause briefly when you get to the tip. Then trace your finger down the other side, then pause when you get to the fold between the thumb and the next finger.
  3. Breathe round your fingers. Continue in the same way round the rest of the fingers. Breathe in as your go up, pause at the top , out as you go down, pause at the fold, swap hands and repeat. 

5. Worry time

This exercise encourage you to set a time aside for 10 minutes and write down all your worries. Look here for the excercise. If your mind is really busy, you can just try to sit down and write everything that is on your mind. Everything. Keep writing until it is all out. When you have finished, tear up the paper, keep tearing it into small pieces. Throw the pieces into the bin, and take a deep breath. This helps you see how illogical your thoughts are. Writing them down helps slow them down and bring some calmness. See for more details

6. Exercise

Being active can help us burn off anxious energy. And finding small ways to build movement into your daily routine can help us keep anxiety in check. Think of small changes you could make such as:

  • Ending your commute to work one or two stops early and walking the rest of the way home.
  • Taking the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Going for a walk with friends rather than sitting in a park, coffee shop or a bar.
  • Pacing whilst on the phone.
  • Taking a walk at lunchtime, even it is just round the block, campus or playground.

7. Get rid of the parrot

Do you often have a parrot on your shoulder telling you that you are not good enough or a failure? Yes. You need to shoot that parrot of it perch.

  1. Take note of the negative thoughts and feelings that are screeching in your mind.
  2. Imagine a parrot on your shoulder shouting out all these insults and your insecurities.
  3. In your mind eye, knock the parrot of your shoulder, so you do not need to listen to him again.
  4. If the negative thoughts persist, knock him back off. Anytime you notice him or her on your shoulder, knock him off.  

8. Project playlist

Music is a great way of changing your mood. Do you have a song that can make you dance or sing? At a time when you are feeling fairly contented put together a play list of songs that evokes the mood of calmnexx or makes you feel secure. Notice how each song makes you feel. Notice the physical sensation that go with this feeling of calm or happiness.

9. Mood journal – how I am feeling right now?

Keep a mood journal for a few days At intervals throughout the day, mark yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is completely calm and 10 is hyper-anxious. 

Super chill                                   on the edge                                                  Peak anxiety

Note down the time as well as the score, then you can see what patterns arise – are there regular times when you are more anxious? If so, try to build some of the ‘calm zone’ ideas into your routine, ahead of these anxiety-inducing times, people or places.

10. Reframe reality

This is a mental rehearsal trick. Visualise yourself succeeding at something you are dreading. It might be a date, or a work performance review. This is focusing on the external. Instead of focusing on all things that could go wrong, imagine all that could go right. Go all out, then all out again…until you are ready to let you star shine bright.

  1. Imagine an upcoming scene vividly. Your senses all props. What will you be able to see, hear and smell?
  2. Who, what and how? What’s your wardrobe? Who are your co-stars? What’s the backdrop? And what’s your motivation? The more detailed you can be, the better.
  3. And action. Imagine the best possible way that things could play out. Picture yourself calm, confident, in control. We’re talking best-case scenario her.

11. Mindfulness

To find more about mindfulness, look here.

8 helpful ways to deal with stress

Do you find you often feel stressed?

Are your nights disrupted with poor sleep?

Is your mind often thinking about too many things.

Then STOP.

It sounds as though you are stressed. 

Below are eight helpful ways of dealing with stress. Active change can help you build a happier life for yourself. Continue reading

I worry what people think of me and if they like me

I worry what people think of me

I can’t do that as people may judge me!

No-one likes me.

What happens if I’m rejected?

Sound familiar? These are common statements that I often hear my clients say. Often clients judge themselves on how popular they are or they will spend a lot of time worrying what people think of them or if they like them. The need to be liked by everyone only creates worry, anxiety and often loneliness. I find with my clients that it is common for them to worry more about people they do not know well. They spend lots of energy trying to please people who are not important to them.

Focus on those who matter

Continue reading

Understanding Panic Attacks

understanding panic attacksWhat are panic attacks?

Panic attacks are common, occurring in at least five per cent of the population. Many clients come to me who have experienced panic attacks. A common remark is that clients feel their panic attacks are misunderstood and dismissed by other people. Panic attacks are not signs of weakness Continue reading

The Stigma of Mental Health

Experiencing stigma of mental health

stigma mental healthThe other month, I was in a meeting of a social group. One member (who I shall call Katie) was told the group that they were physically unwell. The general response from the group was advising Katie to take it easy with a few people offered to help her out with her set tasks. Another member (Harriet) mentioned they suffered from anxiety. Alarming, rather than asking Harriet how they could best support her with her anxiety, a member suggested that they should put themselves in a situation where they feel anxious to help them overcome it Continue reading

Relationship between thoughts and feelings

thought and feeling relationshipFeelings affect us

Positive or negative feelings affect what happen to us. For example, if we are given a birthday present, we feel elated and happy, but if our child breaks our birthday present, we feel angry and upset.  In other words, the situation we are in has a direct effect on our feelings.

Thoughts control our feelings

However, it can be more complicated. Continue reading

Steps to beating job burnout



Job burnout

Job burnout

The last post on stress at work looked at what the warning signs of work stress were. This post will look at steps to take to help you tackle stress at work and beat job burnout.

As soon as the first signs of stress at work appear action must be taken and you need to recognise the problem. Recognition and acceptance is the key to a series of importance steps to be taken.




The following are useful steps to take to help relieve stress and prevent job burnout: Continue reading

Signs of work stress

work stressAs your alarm goes off in the morning and you stir into consciousness, do thoughts of work start to feel you with dread? Do you find it difficult to get up? When you think of work do you get a pain in the chest? Have you lost interest in your work, feel you have no motivation and constantly feel exhausted?

Sounds like you?

It could mean you Continue reading

Walk Talk Therapy in Sheffield

Walk talk sheffieldA few years ago, I came across a book called ‘Working it out: Using exercise in Psychotherapy’.  This book highlights that walking during counselling or therapy:

  • Encourages a client to be more physical active
  • Helps a client get ‘unstuck’ when talking about difficult issues
  • Physical activity increases creative and deeper thinking

Continue reading

Negative Thinking Habits

Negative thinking habits

Negative thinking habits

We all have a running commentary of thoughts going on in our head in every situation we are in. These thoughts can be positive and therefore helpful to us. On the other hand if our thoughts are negative they will be become unhelpful to us. Negative thinking can lead to greater stress and unhappiness. It is a way of thinking about yourself and the world which distorts how situations really are. I am going to describe some common habits of negative thinking. See how many apply to you. Continue reading