Lynsey Lowe Counselling, Psychotherapy, Mindfulness & Training Nottingham

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Anxiety is a common problem many people face. We may think there is no point to it and it's just a nuisance or worse... but that would be to misunderstand its purpose.

Anxiety is a normal and useful reaction to a threat: it puts the body on alert and enables us to respond to danger. It’s often referred to as the “fight or flight” response. It can literally save your life – for example if you have to run to make it across the road because a car is speeding too fast towards you! However problems arise when the threat is in our minds rather than a real physical danger, and when our thoughts and behaviours reinforce our anxiety instead of helping it melt away.

Some people live in a state of constant low level anxiety, which is exhausting. Anxiety involves thoughts, bodily reactions, and behaviours.

Some common symptoms of anxiety are :

  • Worrying a lot
  • Loss of self-confidence
  • Self-consciousness
  • Inability to relax
  • Constant feeling of dread
  • Irritability with others
  • Loss of concentration/focus
  • Forgetfulness
  • Fear of criticism/rejection
  • Nightmares
  • Fear of being alone
  • Fear of being with people
  • Sleeplessness
  • Loss of sexual interest
  • Always “wound up” or “on edge”
  • Afraid to face the day
  • Avoidance of situations

    Anxiety which is causing a problem is a vicious circle of anxious thoughts (T), anxiety sensations(S) and anxiety maintaining/increasing behaviours (B).

    Therapy aims to break this cycle by changing the thoughts, reducing the physical sensations and changing the behaviours. All too often we get into a cycle – and we tell ourselves we can’t do anything about it. BUT a thought is something in your conscious mind – which can be changed. A physical sensation can be changed by doing something else and a behaviour is something we do – so that can be changed too! That’s not to say it is easy and it may take a lot of practice to change a cycle that’s been around for a long time – but it is possible.

    T - Challenge your Anxious THOUGHTS
    S - Calming Your Physical SENSATIONS
    B - Change Your BEHAVIOURS

    Working through these things with a therapist can be a way to manage your anxiety. I have a longer version of this ‘information sheet’ on coping with anxiety which I utilise with my clients.

    Some people find books helpful – these are a few suggestions if you are interested.

    Coping Successfully With Panic Attacks by Shirley Trickett
    Coping with Anxiety and Panic by Jordan Lee
    The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne
    Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers
    Overcoming Anxiety by Helen Kennerley
    When Panic Attacks by Aine Tubridy

  • Resources. love

    Other sources of help & support

    Nottinghamshire Rape Crisis Centre
    Survivors of sexual violence, aged 13 upwards. Can be recent or historic abuse.
    Helpline, Counselling & Group
    Tel: 0115 941 0440

    Topaz Centre
    Nottinghamshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre
    Provides multi-agency support to survivors of sexual violence. Can support with reporting to police (but can use service even if choose not to report), crisis support worker during examination, attending court, health advice, etc.
    Tel: 0845 600 1588

    NGY (Base 51)
    Variety of services for young people (13 to 25 yrs) including counselling

    Women’s Centre
    Variety of services for women, including counselling
    Tel: 0115 9411475

    NWCS & Counselling Xtra
    Low cost counselling - fee based on income
    Tel: 0115 9605577

    Women’s Aid
    Support for families affected by domestic violence. Wide variety of different services in Nottingham and south Nottinghamshire. (Separate service for North Notts – see below)
    Tel: 0808 800 0340

    Bereavement support, including counselling
    Tel: 0844 477 9400

    Carers Federation
    Support for carers, including counselling
    Tel: 0115 9629310

    Relationship advice and counselling. Also work with families and domestic violence.

    Marriage preparation, relationship counselling and advice. National number but centres in Nottingham and Derby.
    Tel: 0800 389 3801

    Age UK
    Main charity supporting and promoting wellbeing of older people. Lots of advice and resources on website but also information about local services.


    A user led service providing advice, support, drop-in, and counselling around self-harm.

    Survivors of sexual violence, aged 16+, throughout Nottinghamshire (including Mansfield/Newark).
    Tel: 01636 610313

    Variety of services for those facing bereavement & life limiting illness, including counselling. Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

    Provides a counselling service for young people aged 6 to 25 years in the East Midlands. Free to 6 to 19 year olds. Small charge for 19+ who are in work.

    A service which provides support to children, teenagers and families following a disclosure of sexual abuse.

    Young Minds
    Website and Parents Helpline – dedicated to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of young people.

    Support for families of alcohol and drug users.
    Tel: 08000 850941

    Nottingham Lesbian & Gay Switchboard
    Helpline & other services
    Tel: 0115 9348485 or 01623 621515

    Womens Aid
    Support for women and children affected by domestic violence. A wide variety of services in north Nottinghamshire.
    Tel: 01909 533610


    The Samaritans
    24 hour, 365 day a year phone line service for those feeling suicidal or feel they need someone to talk to about what is troubling them. Confidential.
    Tel: 08457 909090

    Telephone, email support for young people and website with lots of information for children and families.
    Tel: 0800 1111

    PODS (Positive Outcomes for Dissociative Survivors)
    Provide training, information and support for survivors with dissociation and their families. Also a DID Helpline and email support.
    Tel: 0800 181 4420


    Self-esteem is a phrase that comes up a lot when I'm counselling...

    If you are trying to improve your self-esteem what can you do?

    Understanding why you have low self-esteem helps some people – but not everyone. Often it’s about the messages we grew up with – never being good enough. Or it could come about because of bullying at school – a very common reason. If you really want to uncover some of this then counselling can be really helpful, but it’s important to find the right therapist for you.

  • Learn to recognise what happens when you become stressed & ways to reduce the anxiety or stress. We all suffer from stress at different times, and in fact, stress is necessary. But it’s when it gets out of balance and becomes too much to cope with that it causes problems.

  • Make positive affirmations – even if you don’t believe them at first! Say to yourself “I am a strong and confident person.” Some people put post-its around the house or office to remind themselves of these messages. There is evidence to show if you tell yourself something often enough you will eventually believe it!

  • Make a list of things you like about yourself. This can be a really tricky one for some people. I encourage my clients to explore the reasons why they can’t find things they like about themselves but also we narrow it down until we find even the smallest thing that they like! Nice feet! Being kind… they all count!

  • Nothing improves self-esteem like being able to do something that you didn’t think you could. I recently saw a young woman who had been a victim of domestic violence give a talk in front of hundreds of professionals. When she came off the stage she was buzzing! You could tell it had improved her self confidence and self esteem immeasurably to do something that she found scary – but she did it!

    This is a really brief look at a huge topic. It can take lots of work to improve self-esteem but it’s definitely worth it! And working with a counsellor or in a self-improvement group can really help.

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