Sunday,15 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1267, (22 - 28 October 2015)
Sunday,15 July, 2018
Issue 1267, (22 - 28 October 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Letting go of worry

Anxiety may not be chasing you, but you may be chasing anxiety, as Mai Samih finds out

Al-Ahram Weekly

It is one of the main causes of physical and psychological problems. Many people suffer from it without realising. It keeps people up at night and can develop into insomnia. It can make people grind their teeth, sweat and speak or walk while they are asleep or even make them shake. It is called anxiety.

“I get many consultations about anxiety on Facebook, the vast majority of which are based on an illusion. Anxiety is a personal dialogue, or a lack of emotional balance. If you order your mind to let go of something that is worrying you, generally speaking, you become free from anxiety. But if that does not happen, there could be a problem,” says psychologist Sara Abdel-Rahman.

Abdel-Rahman recently organised a workshop called “Chasing Anxiety” at El-Sawy Culture Wheel in Cairo. She also launched a campaign entitled; “100 days of happiness, love, and certainty,” and challenged people to keep on smiling, for 100 days, no matter what.

According to Abdel-Rahman, the mind can play tricks on people suffering from anxiety. “Your mind may tell you that the anxiety you have is not severe, while in fact it may be close to depression,” she says. The mind is like a cup full of emotions that have to be regularly emptied, she adds.

People should search for the cause of their problems if they want to solve them.

“People live in a circle that should be complete, and if any part of it has a problem it could mean they are caught up in a vicious cycle,” says Abdel-Rahman. “The heart is like the eye: it opens and closes. If it closes, you don’t feel anything.”

A normal person may feel anxious as a result of an external source, and the anxiety ends with that situation or problem. A person suffering from anxiety experiences stress when there is a problem and is unable to deal with it.

Abdel-Rahman starts her workshops by distributing three tests to determine a person’s level of anxiety. Then she starts brainstorming with the audience, asking them why they are worried and to tell her how anxiety feels. She asks them to describe their feelings in one word and then write two reasons why they feel them.

If a person has a problem with the three subjects of the questionnaire —the degree of fear, the degree of behavioural symptoms (excessive cleanliness or punctuality, for example), and the degree of tension — then they could have a problem with anxiety.

She describes the symptoms of anxiety. “There are seven phases in anxiety. The first is a sudden experience, like a breathing disorder or if your heart beats quickly, or your body temperature goes up and you lose focus. The second is a feeling of panic, when you don’t want anyone to touch you,” she says.

“The third phase is delusion. The fourth is when you start to make connections, for example between the illness and your job. The fifth is social avoidance, and the sixth is when a feeling of self-blame prevails in a person’s mind, for example when they say to themselves, ‘It’s my fault because I’m a bad person’. The seventh phase is depression, which many people suffer from.”

She quotes from the book Symptoms and Disease by Salah Rashed, which says that scientists have shown that colon problems can be a result of undigested ideas, cancer may be due to buried grief, short-sightedness and long-sightedness the result of a fear of the future, a headache by the pressure or inconsistency of thoughts, and a sinus problem the result of interpersonal problems. Sometimes, working on thought processes can help resolve physical disease.

According to Abdel-Rahman, the extent of anxiety attacks can vary depending on circumstances. “The most dangerous thing is pressing thoughts that could turn into a state of obsession, like obsessive cleaning or obsessive doubt. It differs from one person to the other as to whether or not they are able to let such thoughts go, or whether they are able to deal with them,” she comments.

“In general, there are three main causes of anxiety. The first is biological; the second is conditional learning, when a child adopts reactions to situations from his mother and father, for example, especially during the first seven years of his life; and the third is stress and negative thoughts.

There are also many other events in life that can trigger worry.” The less self-aware a person is the more subject he or she may be to anxiety.

Abdel-Rahman has given training courses in hospitals in Egypt and has organised personality-building workshops for children, starting from the age of two and a half, working on self-confidence, behaviour and responsibility. She specialises in the field of internal peace and self-management for women, and also organises workshops for parents as problems between them can lead to behavioural problems in their children. She is currently organising workshops on raising children at Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

Abdel-Rahman has some tips to help get rid of anxiety. “The first step to curing anxiety is determining its cause. Write the story of your life and put a red line under the events that you think you were influenced by. “

“Then make a plan for a future without anxiety and burn the book you wrote the original story in. When you change yourself, don’t pay attention to those around you as they will change when they see you change,” she says.

When a person feels independent, this is a sign that he or she has been cured of anxiety. The use of internal dialogue can also help abolish anxiety and lead a person to adapt better to situations, especially those that used to trigger worry in the past.

People reach the highest degree of self-confidence when they know their strengths and weaknesses and see in every problem an opportunity. They have a clear mind, are at peace with themselves and live in the present. They also try to do things that can help put a smile on other people’s faces.

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