Anxiety

Anxiety is distress prompted by abnormal worry or apprehension. It is usually accompani9ed by a feeling of loss of control.

Most of us experience it from time to time, but if allowed to get out of hand, the body becomes highly sensitised, with physical effects including headaches, ulcers, muscle tension and lack of energy.

Many things can trigger anxiety. When we stay within familiar territory (physical or psychological), we feel most comfortable; any new experience can trigger anxious feelings. The unconscious part of the mind likes us to stick to existing habits and, acting through the nervous system, makes us feel uneasy when we move out of our comfort zone.

Chronic anxiety is a long term condition recognised by the psychiatric profession as a mental illness. It is often treated with anti-depressant or anti-anxiety mediation. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is also widely used.

As an Aspergic, I know from painful experience that there are not always easy solutions for chronic anxiety. However clients past and present have found the following approached useful:

  1. Understand why you react this way. Identify the thoughts and beliefs that trigger the anxiety response and work on them using the I-T-I-A Formula.Keep active. A busy mind has less opportunity to focus on anxieties.
  2. Talk to a caring friend, relative or therapist, someone who’ll listen without judging you. Often when you talk things through, problems don’t seem quite so bad.
  3. When you have a problem, concentrate on finding solutions rather than focussing on the problem.
  4. You’ll never eliminate anxiety by avoiding the things that cause it. For instance, if driving in traffic brings on anxious feelings, drive on progressively busier and busier roads until you have de-sensitised yourself.This is the basis of the ‘extinction’ technique. Put yourself in anxiety provoking situation and (in theory at least) you eventually learn that there’s nothing to be worried about.
  5. Remind yourself of – and be grateful for – all the good things in your life. List them. Think about them. There are plenty! Remember, there is no anxiety in the world, just people thinking anxious thoughts.

And remember, see anxiety as another name for a challenge and you can accomplish miracles!

David Lawrence Preston, 25.5.2019

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6 Tips for Inner Peace

The source of most mental tension is the ego – that part of our psyche which constructs the image of ourselves we like to present to the world – our idea of who we should be and who we would like others to think we are.

 1. Give up the need to be right

Giving up the need to be right has nothing to do with whether you actually are right or not (which is often a moot point), but avoiding putting others down by making them wrong.

Let everyone have their say and keep your counsel. Unless you absolutely must (e.g. in a difficult negotiation situation), avoid arguments and disagreements and practise not responding to provocation.

In the greater scheme of things, you and your adversary are one, so look for ways you can both be right. That’s win-win.

2. Stop judging

A judgement is ‘a view or declaration of what is good, right or fair.’ Some judgements are necessary because they help us to make sound decisions. Take driving for instance: judging speed, distance and direction are essential for our safety.

But there are other kinds of judgements: judging what is good or bad, better, worse, right, wrong, moral, immoral and so on. These are judgements of the ego.

Stop judging other people. Who are you to judge them? How can you condemn the path they have chosen? What right have you to make statements about what they are doing and where they need to be?

 3. Get away from ‘what’s in it for me’

‘What’s in it for me’ is the mantra of the ego. Its first instinct is ignore the bigger picture and protect and take care of itself. The Higher Self has different priorities, such as ‘What’s most likely to benefit us all?’ and ‘How can I help?’

 4. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Ego-dominated people feed off others’ approval. They are preoccupied with their reputation and easily take offence. They are easy targets for jokers and pranksters since they are easily upset and become aggressive when they feel under attack.

Learn not to take offence at what others say or do. Remember, when someone disagrees with you or criticises you, they’re judging only your outward appearance, not the real you. Step back – there’s always a funny side!

5. Put a stop to jealousy

Jealousy is born of fear. The ego is dominated by fear. It begrudges others their talents and achievements, not recognising that one person’s success can benefit all.

In order to feel jealous, you must compare yourself unfavourably with others and wish you had what they have. Let go of the need to judge yourself against others. Take pleasure in their blessings and good fortune. Wish them happiness. What matters is not what others have or do or how you compare with them, but how far you have progressed along your path.

 6. Constantly remind yourself who you are

Constantly remind yourself who you are. You are Infinite Intelligence in human form. Stop looking outside yourself and instead look within to where lasting peace and joy may be found.

Before long, you won’t need to remind yourself any more – you’ll just know it.

The difference it makes

When you discover the truth about yourself, that you are a spiritual being, your self-image is no longer based on your physical features. Your deepest values are non-physical – happiness, peace, love, truth and so on. You transcend your previous limitations.

You are equally aware of others as spiritual beings on their own journey. You see them in terms of their virtues, values and talents. Love is your predominant feeling towards others.

You are caring, empathic and considerate. You are guided by your intuition, taking responsibility for your thoughts, words and actions because you know they are the seeds of your future harvest. You approach problems differently, knowing that if you want change you must focus on causes because it is absurd to expect effects to deal with themselves. You are self-reliant yet connected, at ease with yourself and warm and respectful towards others.

Isn’t this what you want?

 

©David Lawrence Preston, 7.11.2016

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The First Gospel

‘Mark’ was the first of the four official gospels to be written, around 70 CE. Only the seven authentic letters of Paul and the anonymous letter to the Hebrews were written before this, which means ninety percent plus of the New Testament was written after.

Nobody knows who wrote it, but it is clear the author was no eyewitness and makes no such claims. Some have suggested that it was written by a young associate of the disciple Cephas; if this were true, he would be author closest to Yeshua, but it’s unlikely. Others think it could have been written by a young one-time companion of Paul, John-Mark, but this is unlikely too.

Some think it was written in Syria, others in Rome. There are no indications that the author was familiar with the geography of Palestine. It seems to have been written for gentile Christians, since the author, probably Jewish, felt the need to explain Jewish law and customs.

There is no birth story in the First Gospel – it begins with Yeshua’s visit to John the Baptist and ends with a group of women discovering the empty tomb. There is no divine conception, no birth story, no shepherds, wise men or flight into Egypt. These stories were invented later.

Nor did the original text claim that a resurrection had taken place. The final twelve verses about sightings of the ‘risen’ Master, his instruction to the disciples to ‘go to every part of the world and proclaim the gospel’ and a warning that those who do not believe will be ‘condemned’ – were written by a different author and added years later, probably to bring ‘Mark’ into line with the Second and Third Gospels, ‘Matthew’ and ‘Luke’.

In the First Gospel, Yeshua is primarily a great humanitarian.  He performs miracles not as ‘signs’ that he is divinely ordained (that came later, in the Fourth Gospel) but to help people. It’s light on dialogue and heavy on miracles. He drives out a lot of demons. ‘Mark’s’ Yeshua was the secret Messiah until his final week. The disciples are constantly urged not to tell anyone who he is or what he has done.

Everything that appears in ‘Mark’ also appears ‘Matthew’, ‘Luke’ or both, but there is hardly any consensus with the Fourth Gospel, ‘John’.

Being the first to be written, it is tempting to think of ‘Mark’ as closer to the facts than the other gospels. This may be true, but the author was no neutral historian. Like the others, he was a creative writer applying his own spin to the stories he had heard to convince his readers of his point of view.

Any good journalist will tell you, never let the facts get in the way of a good story! The author of ‘Mark’ did this instinctively!

©David Lawrence Preston, 30.8.2016

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Coping With Anxiety

Anxiety is a feeling of intense worry or distress in the absence of obvious danger. It is a state of inner turmoil accompanied by churning thoughts, nervousness, poor concentration, feelings of dread and loss of control. It is related to, but different from, fear, which is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat.

Anxiety comes in two main forms:

  1. A short-term state, a response to a challenging situation, which can be acute.
  2. A long-term, chronic condition, part of one’s psychological makeup. An anxiety disorder such as this can have a profound effect on our quality of life.

Types of anxiety

There are six major types of anxiety disorders:

  • If constant worries and fears distract you from your day-to-day activities you may be suffering from generalised anxiety disorder. Sufferers feel anxious nearly all of the time without necessarily knowing why. Generalized anxiety disorder often shows up as physical symptoms like insomnia, indigestion and fatigue.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorders are characterized by unwanted thoughts or behaviours that seem impossible to control, such as a recurring worry that you forgot to lock the house before going out or left the oven on. Sufferers may also have uncontrollable compulsions, such as repeatedly washing their hands.
  • Anxiety attacks, characterized by recurrent, unexpected panic feeligs which may also be accompanied by a fear of being in places where escape or help would be difficult such as open spaces like shopping centres or confined spaces such as lifts and underground trains.
  • Phobias are unrealistic or exaggerated fears of specific objects, activities or situations that in reality present little or no threat. Common phobias include fear of animals, birds and spiders, fear of flying and fear of heights. Sufferers go to extreme lengths to avoid the feared object or situation which unfortunately only strengthens the phobia.
  • Social anxiety disorder is a debilitating fear of being seen negatively by others. It includes extreme shyness and stage fright. In severe cases, social situations are avoided altogether which can exacerbate the problem.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder is an extreme anxiety disorder that can occur after a traumatic or life-threatening event. Symptoms include flashbacks or nightmares, withdrawing from others, startling easily, and avoiding situations that remind us of the event.

Anxiety disorders are partly genetic, but also due to mental disorders such as bipolar condition, depression and certain personality disorders. Drug use and withdrawal from certain drugs can also cause anxiety.

Physical symptoms of anxiety disorders

Anxiety is a result of the body’s natural response to danger, the fight-or-flight response to perceived threats. It can cause a wide range of physical symptoms, hence anxiety sufferers often mistake their disorder for a medical illness before their anxiety disorder is discovered. Common physical symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Headaches
  • Racing heart
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle tension
  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Tremors and tics

Mental symptoms of anxiety disorders

  • Constantly tense, fearful, worried or jittery.
  • Avoidance of situations and activities because they cause anxiety.
  • Recurring irrational fears that won’t go away.
  • Compulsive behaviours.
  • Feelings that danger and disaster are imminent.
  • A need to do things in a certain way or order.
  • Recurring thoughts that interfere with daily activities such as work or family life.
  • Mental vagueness/blank mind.

Emotional symptoms of anxiety disorders

  • Anticipating the worst.
  • Poor concentration.
  • Constant feelings of apprehension or dread.
  • Shyness and social awkwardness.
  • Self doubt.

Remedies for Excessive Anxiety

There is no universal cure for anxiety. Sometimes it can be relieved with medication, therapy or a combination of the two, but it is doubtful that either permanently removes the root cause.

Practical lifestyle changes

  1. Whenever you find yourself worrying about something, write it on a piece of paper and put it in a ‘worry box’. On the last day of each month, open the box. You will find that most of your worries never happened and many were not as bad as you imagined.
  2.  Keep active. When you’re busy, your mind has less opportunity to focus on your worries. Often whatever is worrying you resolves itself while your attention is on other things.
  3.  Deep relaxation has enormous benefits. Use relaxation time to ‘visualize’ yourself coping with anxiety-inducing situations. Mindfulness, thought stopping, relaxation and mental calmness can help break the anxiety cycle.
  4.  Take regular exercise. Exercise is a great antidote to anxiety especially if taken in a natural setting. Spend at least twenty minutes per session.
  5.  Slow, deep breathing – focus your attention on your breath and take at least ten slow, long, rhythmic breaths whenever you feel anxiety coming on.
  6.  Eat well. Choose a healthy diet and keep your blood sugar levels up. And never avoid breakfast.
  7.  Daily meditation (minimum morning and evening sessions of twenty minutes each) had enormous benefits for anxiety disorders.
  8.  Live one day at a time. Concentrate on what you can do If you’re clear about your long-term goals and do the best you can each day, the future will take care of itself.

Natural remedies

  1. Omega 3 oils (mainly found in nut and seed oils, fish oils and eggs) are extremely beneficial for anxiety.
  2.  So are ingested herbs such as chamomile, green tea, hops, valerian, lemon balm and passionflower, and the calming scent of lavender.
  3.  There are various over-the-counter products which usually contain a combination of the above and claim to relieve worry, stress and irritability and help to promote natural sleep. For further information visit your pharmacy or health food store.

Medication

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence in the UK has recently advised doctors to consider counselling before prescribing drugs for anxiety sufferers. Only one in three find relief from their symptoms through drugs.

There are a wide range of anti-anxiety prescription drugs, including benzodiazepines, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s), Selective Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRI’s) and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MOI’s).

Beta blockers, used for the treatment of high blood pressure and a racing heart, can be effective for short term anxiety, for instance if you were anxious over a driving test or examination.

Although these normally take several weeks to ‘kick in’, doctors are reluctant to prescribe medication for more than a few weeks as users can become addicted. They also have side effects ranging from drowsiness, dry mouth, blurred vision and memory problems to sexual dysfunction, weight gain, gastric upset, disrupted sleep and nightmares. Also, abruptly stopping the medication can cause withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating and shaking. If in doubt, always consult a doctor.

Psychotherapy

Drug companies spend huge sums trying to convince us that depression and anxiety are biological illnesses and can only effectively be treated with drugs, but independent research often shows that psychotherapy can relieve symptoms more quickly and is more likely to prevent a relapse.

Among the approaches used are:

Behavioural therapy

This uses two main approaches:

  1. Desensitization – exposing the client to progressively more stressful events. In theory the anxiety subsides.
  2. The ‘extinction’ technique – based on the notion that if you put the client in anxiety provoking situations often enough, they eventually learn that there’s nothing to be worried about. Sadly it only works 25-30% of the time.

CBT

The most common form of psychotherapy is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT assumes that changing maladaptive thinking leads to changes in feelings and behaviour. CBT has been shown to be at least as effective as drugs for the treatment of anxiety.

Hypnosis

Hypnosis can be used to expose unconscious causes of anxiety and reprogram the subconscious to make you more relaxed and less anxious. It can also address specific fears and phobias. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) can also address anxiety disorders and phobias.

Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis can involve years of analysing childhood experiences and has a poor track record of relieving anxiety.

Self-help

We all know that worrying about a problem never solved it, but consciously trying to control anxiety or panic through rational thought alone can make matters worse. What we focus on tends to amplify, so trying to think our way out of anxiety can lead to more anxiety provoking thoughts, which only increase the symptoms.

Electronic Bioenergetic Devices

Various electronic devices have been developed in the past half century which use low frequency, short duration, low intensity magnetic pulses to stimulate body tissues. TENS devices (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), for instance, use electric currents to stimulate the nerves for therapeutic purposes. The Scenar – ‘Self-Controlled Energy Neuro Adaptive Regulation,’ originally developed for the Russian space programme, is a hand held biofeedback device which aims to teach the body to heal itself by activating the immune system. While TENS and Scenar have proved effective for pain relief in clinical studies and avoid the problems associated with drugs, it is doubtful that either can help with anxiety.

The most advanced device on the market is the AcuPearl. AcuPearl has been developed by an international team of scientists whose expertise extends from traditional healing methods to the latest research in the body’s connective tissue matrix communication.

AcuPearl comes in various configurations, two of which, the AcuPearl G-Balance and C-Balance, are  is specifically designed to aid with stress, anxiety and sleep patterns.

AcuPearls delivers therapeutic effects in a safe way using (1) Low frequency pulsed output of the magnetic and light spectrums; the rate and duration of the pulses is an important factor in the AcuPearl technology; (2) Pulsed ElectroMagnetic Field therapy (pemf) which uses low frequency, short duration, low intensity magnetic pulses to stimulate body tissues; and (3) A propriety method called Adaptive Resonance, developed specifically for AcuPearl, which produces resonant interference patterns within the magnetic and light fields that are continually adapted as the device is in use.

G-balance (2)   geabdbff

The Calm/Relax setting works with acute and chronic stress and anxiety, offering a general calming and relaxing effect; the Revitalise program aims to help re-establish a sense of vitality when feeling depleted as a result of prolonged emotional stress and the Sleep setting help to re-establish good sleep patterns for people experiencing sleep disorders due to emotional stress and anxiety.

These AcuPearls can be worn as pendants or on the wrist, or simply kept in a pocket. Their effect can be enhanced by applying them to acupuncture points, making them the 21st Century equivalent of a 5,000 year old proven therapy.

Scientific advance is an ever unfolding process, and although there’s still an awful lot to discover, there are more and more options for anxiety sufferers.  Perhaps the best approach in chronic cases is a multi-faceted approach incorporating natural remedies, lifestyle changes, talking therapies and pemf.

See also www.feelinggoodallthetime.com/anxiety

© David Lawrence Preston, 17.6.2016

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Nothing in this article is intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult a doctor if you have any health concerns that may require diagnosis or treatment. Any statements made concerning products and services represent the opinion of the author alone and do not constitute an endorsement of any product or service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace of Mind

Peace of mind often seems elusive in this busy world. Nearly everyone agrees it’s an important ‘state of being’. How can we experience it? Is there a formula that could enable us to have it now and for ever more?

Some think there is. Many Buddhists, for instance, associate it with a state of total desirelessness. But for the vast majority there is no simple formula, although there are powerful guidelines:

Acceptance and non-judgement

Some would argue peace of mind can be attained by being happy, healthy and prosperous; feeling good about yourself and fully in control of your life. Certainly all this is important – but it’s not the whole story. The additional key to peace of mind is summed up in the words, acceptance or, to put it another way, non-judgement.

Acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean ‘approving’ but it does mean seeing the world as it is, not filtered through a set of beliefs about how you think it should be; allowing others to be as they are, doing what they do according to their preoccupations and desires. You may not like their behaviour, but if you are constantly wishing they and the world were different, real peace of mind will always elude you.

A calm mind

Peace comes with calmness. A calm mind comes with a relaxed body. It is also closely associated with forgiveness – although the less you judge, the more accepting you become and the less you have to forgive.

The secret of acceptance, and therefore peace of mind, is to adopt the empowering belief:

Everything is exactly as it‘s meant to be, and always works out for the best. Say it out loud, at least ten times, three times a day. After a month reflect on the difference it has made.

This is not meant to be a recipe for inertia. If you notice something that can be improved or needs changing and are determined to do something about it, this too is exactly as it should be.

Naturally, the word ‘everything’ includes ‘everybody’ too. Adopt an attitude of non-judgement, then discord, anxiety and animosity immediately evaporate.

Time for yourself

Take some time for yourself every day, to relax, meditate or even just do nothing. The world demands so much of our time that we have less and less for those delightful moments of being alone to think our thoughts, dream our dreams and let wisdom germinate and take root in our minds.

The here and now

Keep bringing your thoughts back to the here and now. Now is the only moment over which you have any control. Let go of yesterday’s regrets of tomorrow’s worries. Each days has troubles enough of its own.

Avoid vows

Don’t make statements or pledges you can’t justify or have no intention of honouring.

Don’t generalise

Avoid thoughts and phrases that begin with, ‘I’ll never…..’ or ‘I’ll always…..’

How do you know? How can you make statements about the future right now? You don’t know how circumstances may change.

And finally…

Be mindful and diligent, stay focussed on the positive, and keep a clear conscience. Everything will work out for the best – and you will experience a wonderful feeling of peace.

©David Lawrence Preston, 14.6.2016

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Worry

‘There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.’

Epictetus

Think of some problem or event from your past that was so big at the time that you literally worried yourself sick about it. Can you remember the outcome?

Worry is the opposite of faith. It’s a feeling of agitation brought about by mulling over what you don’t want. It is the misuse of your imagination. Research shows that 90% of what we worry about never happens, and the other 10% happens so rarely it’s not worth worrying about.

Worry causes more psychological problems than almost any other emotion. It’s like leaving your car in the garage all night with the engine running. You waste petrol, pollute the atmosphere and wear out the engine – but get nowhere.

Worrying about a problem never solved it. The best antidote is action. If you can do something about it – do it. If there’s nothing you can do, why worry – it won’t make any difference.

Try these:

  1. Start a worry box. Whenever you find yourself worrying about something, write it on a piece of paper and put it in the box. Then turn your attention elsewhere. (In reality, of course, you are allowing your intuitive unconscious mind to sort it out for you.) On the last day of each month, open the box. You will find that most of your worries never came to anything, or were not as bad as you imagined, or you were able to cope one way or another.
  1. Ask yourself what exactly you’re getting worked up about. Be honest, how likely is it to happen? Sometimes we worry about things that only have a tiny chance of occurring.
  1. Is it really that important? If the worst happened, could you handle it? Tell yourself you can. Once you know you can handle the worst, it eases your worries considerably.
  1. Activity distracts you from worry. Often whatever is worrying you resolves itself while your attention is on other things.
  1. Live one day at a time. Concentrate on what you can do now. Do the best you can each day and the future will take care of itself.
  1. Deep relaxation and meditation have enormous benefits. When your body is relaxed, the part of the mind which does the worrying is more relaxed too, so develop a calm disposition and ‘visualise’ yourself dealing with whatever life throws at you.

Back to my first question – did all that worrying make any difference? Probably not!

©David Lawrence Preston, 26.3.2016

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