What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a common feeling that most people will experience in varying degrees throughout their life. It could be caused by work pressures, exams, significant life events, financial or health concerns and usually results in feelings of unease, worry and fear. For most people, once the cause of unease has passed, anxiety levels should reduce, leaving them to feel better.
However it is when an individual experiences a prolonged or continued level of anxiety that it can become overwhelming for them.
Common difficulties associated with anxiety
Symptoms of anxiety can vary from individual to individual and can include feelings of fear, nervousness or nausea, and even panic attacks, sleep deprivation or appetite disturbances.
Anxiety can also have an impact on an individual's ability to cope with daily life. They may find their motivation decreases for work, domestic or social activities and maintaining relationships can become challenging.
If you would like to learn more about how we as occupational therapists can help people overcome common difficulties associated with anxiety, you will find some useful links at the bottom of this page.
How can occupational therapy help people with anxiety?
Occupational therapy plays an important role in helping clients with anxiety manage their condition and minimise its impact on their daily life.
An occupational therapist will work with a client with anxiety to identify how the condition is affecting them and what their future goals are. Below are some ways that an occupational therapist may be able to help.
- Relaxation techniques - to help reduce the physical effects of anxiety, especially once the triggers for the anxiety are identified and there is a desire by the client to overcome these. This is useful for phobias or panic attacks for example.
- Self-awareness skills - helping a client to gain an understanding and awareness of their own bodies when anxiety levels are rising, and how to compensate for this.
- Pacing strategies - anxiety can be exhausting and an occupational therapist can teach a client how to pace themselves during the day to preserve their energy.
- Grading activities - when there is an event or circumstance that causes peaks in anxiety, an occupational therapist can work with the client to build up to and overcome these events through small, structured steps.