“All I want for Christmas is…..Anxiety.”   

Said no one. EVER.


Unfortunately, Anxiety is something that can often go hand in hand with the festive season.

From financial worries through to the anxiety of social situations, anxiety comes in all shapes as sizes. Perhaps this is why anxiety can often feel like you are the odd one out, the only one struggling, the anomaly. Far from it.

This month, we would like to share with you some inspiration, perspective and suggestions from several of our fantastic therapists at Total Health West Berkshire.


So, firstly, what is anxiety and who suffers from it?

Over to Nicola Landless, Counsellor at Total Health West Berkshire, who has kindly responded for us;

“We all suffer from Anxiety at some point in our lives.

Anxiety is brought about by the caveman part of our brains, which was very useful during caveman times as it’s the part of the brain that is a radar for any danger around us; if there was a predator nearby it would alert us and send a rush of adrenaline through the body to prepare us to fight or run in order to survive.

It is not so useful now as it is extremely unlikely that we’ll be attacked by a lion on our way to the shops/work or on the school run.  However, it still acts to keep us safe, so if we are particularly stressed out or perhaps have an irrational fear, this part of the brain prepares us for the ‘fight or flight’ resulting in symptoms of anxiety.


How does anxiety manifest?

As mentioned, anxiety can take many forms. Here is a short list to name a few;

  • Palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Tension in the body
  • Tingling in the hands or feet
  • Difficulty breathing and a feeling of tightness across the chest


Remember this.

Anne-Marie Smellie, Hypnotherapist at Total Health West Berkshire would like to remind you of this;

  • You do not need to be perfect.
  • You will make mistakes at times.
  • But hey, you are only a human being.
  • We need to look after ourselves.
  • Understand that everyone has a different perspective on any situation.
  • It is not necessary to understand their opinions or experiences.
  • You do not need to sort that all out.
  • Just be you – enjoy being you.
  • Give yourself time and love.
  • You should be your own best friend.
  • Not to judge but to support.
  • Be the No.1 in your life.


Take back control.

Lets face it, the hustle and bustle of Christmas can be overwhelming. You’ve got to buy presents. Perhaps organise the big Christmas lunch. Balance family dynamics. Get work organised in time for the big day and a whole bunch more!

In the wise words of Hypnotherapist and Reflexologist Leonie Remmington;

If you are feeling anxious because you have too much to do….STOP

Sit down and write a long list. Then prioritise what is most important, delegate what you can, and cross off what is not immediately necessary.

If you are anxious about an upcoming event, use positive visualization to practice it all going smoothly. See yourself going through the process step by step – looking, feeling, and acting calmly and with confidence.


Put yourself first.

Hey, it is Christmas after all, and the one person we can often forget to treat is ourselves.

A great source of claiming your well-being back can be through the healing hands of massage.

Monika Baureggar, massage therapist at Total Health shares the benefits connected with massage;

“Because touch activates our skin’s pressure receptors and they consequently release oxytocin – otherwise known as the “cuddle” hormone—massage therapy helps to promote feelings of trust and attachment. Struggling with anxiety can cause sufferers to withdraw socially and emotionally from others, and regenerating the ability to function healthily in those ways can begin with a massage from a trusted professional.

With regular practice, massage therapy can also reinforce feelings of comfort and relaxation and improve the relationship you have with your body. Massage as a component of therapy for your depression or anxiety can aid in the breaking down of any physical, emotional”


Something you can action straight away

Follow these simple steps from Nikki Alder, Counsellor at Total Health West Berkshire;

Ask yourself this, is this anxiety useful in this moment? For instance, am I about to sit an exam? Or, present at work? In these situations anxiety is useful in helping your mind and body focus to achieve something challenging.

If not, or if you find it hard to relax after an anxious episode: remember that anxiety is the opposite of feeling calm, so we can ‘trick’ our bodies into believing that we ARE calm, and the brain will then get the signal that all is well, and stand down from high alert.

A quick way to do this is to put your body into the opposite stance of the fight/flight/freeze/flop automatic response to threat:

  1. Open your mouth, dropping your whole jaw
  2. Shoulders down and pull back shoulder blades

(these usually tense up  and forward when we’re anxious…)

  1. Elbows out (like a chicken!)
  2. Splay fingers as wide as you can

(that’s the opposite stance to when you get ready to run or fight…)

  1. Take a big breath into your belly and see how far you can see it inflate
  2. Blow out fully and loudly, as if you’re blowing out birthday candles
  3. Repeat three times, with each breath in and out becoming longer (count for 4 as you do so)

(this is the opposite to when we’re anxious, when our breathing is shallow, more in the chest area, and rapid…)

  1. Close your eyes and picture yourself in a ‘happy’ place, smile, and go through the 5 senses of imagining yourself there (feeling the sun warming your back, smelling the fresh grass, tasting the fresh, clean breeze on your tongue, looking around and imagine all the colours and textures in the scene in front of you…)

You can do this anywhere, reasonably discretely, and repeat as often as you need.


Reach out and talk to someone

And finally, talking. It is simple and it is effective.

As per Counsellor Rosie Waters “It can really help to open up about our anxieties and worries. There is no such thing as a silly or stupid worry.  Everybody gets anxious from time to time.

Left inside, anxiety can grow bigger and bigger until it becomes overwhelming and can make us feel unwell, jittery and on edge, affecting our eating, sleeping and general well-being.

Talking really does help. Whether that is with a friend or family member or even a Counsellor.”


Don’t suffer in silence!

If you would like to learn more about how you can feel different and manage anxious feelings, then please get in touch.

Email hello@totalhealthwestberkshire.co.uk, or call 01635 791 301 and a member of our friendly reception team will be more than happy to help.



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