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Managing anxiety with neurological conditions

Neuro Café 9th March 2022 by Linda S

A calm sea stretches into the horizon under a blue sky. There are a few clouds. It looks peaceful.
Open sea

After a neurological injury or diagnosis, processing what has happened and the impact on your lifestyle can be distressing.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety can take many different forms:

  • Feelings of dread

  • Persistent thoughts about things that worry you

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Feeling irritable

  • Fatigue and problems with sleep

  • Feelings of impending danger.

Managing anxiety

Two people are sitting opposite each other. One has their hand on top of the other's in a comforting way. They are each holding mugs in their other hands. The image is cropped so we can't see their faces but there is a feeling of being comforted and of support.
Coffee and conversation

Talk to someone. This can be friends or family or a professional such as your GP, LEGS staff or your community team.

Depression is not the same as anxiety and is treated as a different condition. Sometimes people can have both depression and anxiety. Speaking to a health care professional can help you understand what is happening, and figure out together the best way to make things better.

Sometimes it is easier to talk to a stranger. There are many services you can self refer to, such as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies service (IAPT) via the NHS, they can provide you with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and other talking therapies.

You can also call the Samaritans if you would like someone to talk to on 116 123.

This is a 24 hour helpline.

Things you can try to help with your anxiety

  • Look after your physical health - exercise is proven to improve your mood. Walking, swimming, Tai Chi, Yoga. Serotonin is released by exercise and helps to creaste a sense of joy.

  • Adopt a healthy diet.

  • Keep hydrated.

  • Get enough sleep.

  • Do not drink alcohol or reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.

  • Breathing exercises can be helpful: see slide in Members' Area for all suggestions such as belly/abdomen breathing.

  • Mindfulness and visualisation techniques: Focus on the positive, a relaxing scene, a happy memory.

  • Keep a diary: Note down what causes feelings of anxiety? What makes you feel good? The diary can be kept private or used as a point for discussion.

LEGS members' tips:

A densely forested scene. Dozens of very tall trees reach up in to the sky.

  • Massage. Try light therapeutic massage initially. Try head and shoulders. Shoulders can hold a lot of tension.

  • A weighted blanket can assist with sleeping.

  • Outdoor swimming. Being surrounded by nature can have a calming effect and there are reported health benefits from swimming in colder temperatures. Always ensure you are safe from a medical and functional perspective before taking up a new activity. Check with your GP or someone from LEGS.

  • Reward yourself for progress.

  • Encourage each other. You are not alone!

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