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Symptom management/Coping strategies in social settings

We all have times when we need to manage our anxiety or other psychological symptoms in social settings or in public. It may be at a wedding, social gatherings, doing a speech, in the workplace or somewhere else. You may need to calm your nerves, prevent blushing, or prevent the voice or hands from shaking. It is better to be prepared, than to have to deal with the symptoms before they arise, rather than when we already feel that we are in the spotlight.

Relaxation and other anxiety management techniques

Learning breathing techniques and practicing relaxation or meditation with guided imagery can help reduce stress and anxiety. These therapy techniques can be taught as a stress management tool in whatever environment you are in when anxiety strikes. Problems become more manageable and a sense of personal control is re-established.

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Pain Management

Chronic pain can affect you in the workplace, in social situations and at home. Learning to understand pain, monitoring it and then learning how to pace activities is a priority for chronic pain sufferers. If family, friends and the workplace understand pain management, everyone will be more patient and the individual will be more productive. Psychological treatment should be provided in addition to physical treatments such as physiotherapy, medication and surgery.

If a person experiences chronic pain and subsequently develop adjustment difficulties because of being unable to do the things they used to do, the inability to cope can become a vicious cycle. Feelings of hopelessness and wanting to escape can make the situation even worse.

It is a well-known fact that anxiety and depression can increase sensitivity to pain and may even impair a person’s potential to get maximum benefit from physical treatments such as physiotherapy, surgery, and even medical treatment. If a person learns how to manage their pain and to adjust their mindset in dealing with the pain, they will cope far better both at home and at work. There are also specific techniques that can help an individual to cope better.

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Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression can affect the ability to function in all areas of a person's private and work life. A lack of motivation and drive, sleep problems, a feeling of helplessness and social withdrawal are all features of depression. Anxiety can be associated with depression and magnify the problems.

It is vital to treat depression so that aspects of a person's life don't fall apart. At stake are the person's relationships, and adequate performance at work. If the depression is severe, then there may be a suicide risk. Psychological treatment is important in combatting these symptoms. A GP may feel that medication is appropriate.

Thinking styles and problem solving strategies can change the perception of having no control. Distortions of thinking patterns such as constantly anticipating the worst possible scenario or self-fulfilling prophesies can be changed by teaching the person to recognize the thought styles.

Cognitive and behavioural techniques such as learning to stand up for oneself or being assertive rather than submissive or aggressive can have an impact on both anxiety and depression. It can teach the person that they do have control over their actions and how they respond to events in their environment.

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How to cope with bullying

No one wants a situation where they are feeling bullied. Bullying can happen in the school ground, at work or even at hime with siblings or your own partner.

Bullying may or may not be real or intentional. It may originate from the need of the protagonist to be in control of a situation or may arise because of the inability of an individual to be assertive.The devastating effects on the individual are the same and the situation can’t be allowed to go on.

Bullying can result in low confidence and self-esteem. A person may dread going to school or work. It can result in depression and anxiety and even health problems resulting from a lowering of their immunity and developing real health issues.

Psychological treatment and counselling may involve teaching assertiveness, building self-esteem and helping with strategies to change the behaviour of the bully. In organisations such as school and work, the authorities may need to be informed so that the problem can be addressed.

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Trauma and PTSD

Work accidents, car accidents and health conditions can cause psychological trauma. Sometimes, the psychological effects of of trauma are more debilitating than the physical injuries of an accident. Understanding this by family, friends and the workplace will result in more understanding and support, rather than blaming a person for reduced performance and apparent changes in personality. An accident or injury may cause psychological trauma to the individual as well as to others who witnessed the event. PTSD may occur immediately following the event or up to 6 months later.

Understanding the symptoms of PTSD is vital for the individual and all those around him or her. Hyper-vigilence can cause fear and paranoia, irritability and anger, lack of apparent tolerance for a variety of issues and sounds, problems sleeping and so forth. Other symptoms include flashbacks and nightmares along with disrupted sleep. The event may intrude into a person’s awareness any time any day without warning and with many of the feelings of fear and anxiety initially experienced at the time of the incident.Other symptoms may include social withdrawal, avoidance of certain situations and a sense of numbing.

PTSD can be dealt with effectively using a variety of psychological techniques including EMDR, desensitisation techniques, exposure and anxiety reduction strategies. Where there is complex trauma, it may take more time. Experience and training to deal with PTSD is required. Without adequate treatment, PTSD can continue to dominate a person’s functioning for many years.

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Becoming the boss: Confidence and Self-Esteem

Sometimes you can't avoid being put into a management role at work. A boss can present as being confident and sure of themselves on the surface, and fearful that they are not good enough inside. This can lead to a feeling that someone will eventually discover that they are 'incompetent' and that once they are ‘found out' it will be the 'end'.

Common difficulties experienced by managers may limit their ability to make good decisions and their productivity. Issues could include a fear of public speaking, fear of flying, being too much of a ‘people pleaser’ and being anxious is social situations. There is often shame experienced when a person in authority experiences these types of difficulties.

A lack of confidence and self-esteem can result in self-sabotaging behavior and anxiety. A person may have panic attacks or fear asserting themselves. These feelings can directly affect performance as a manager even though they may appear to be performing well on the surface.

The development of confidence and self-esteem will reinforce a person’s ability to extend him or herself and to make difficult decisions rather than to stay with the status quo. Dealing with these sorts of issues is likely to result in higher performance, a person who is more likely to remain within the position and reach their potential.

Common difficulties experienced by managers may limit their ability to make good decisions and their productivity could include a fear of public speaking, fear of flying, being too much of a ‘people pleaser’ and being anxious is social situations.

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Social Anxiety

Social anxiety can be debilitating. It may result in a person becoming isolated and avoiding social gatherings, being unable to speak in groups, it can involve a phobic reaction to speaking on the telephone or even texting. It can affect meeting a potential partner, because of feeling socially awquard and fesoar of rejection. Avoidance is the key aspect to social anxiety.

Communication skills, testing comfort zones, changing thought patterns and unrealistic self-expectations can all help to overcome social anxiety. Practicing new ways of approaching feared situations within the session is useful and not being so hard on yourself can also help. CBT techniques, anxiety management and stress reduction will go a long way to improving the situation.

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