Anxiety can be life limiting, with constant worry, feelings of fear or dread, overthinking or catastrophising about the future and the many physical symptoms that accompany it.
It can feel very lonely, especially if others have trouble understanding how you are feeling.
Joining a support group can be a real comfort, being amongst others who experience similar feelings to yourself and being amongst people who understand what you are going through.
In his book, feel better Fast and Make it Last, Dr Amen said 'Humans require social interaction to stay healthy. We have a fundamental need to belong that's just as important as our need for food and water’.
A support group can provide you with that essential social interaction, you do not have to struggle on your own.
On Tuesday the 13th of April I will be starting the new Dorset Anxiety Support Group to provide local Dorset adults the opportunity to be part of a local support group.
A support group is a group of people who have something in common to enable them to make connections and get help.
Many people find that joining a support group aids recovery, increases confidence, and helps them make new friends.
Here are 5 ways I feel an anxiety support group can help you.
1. Realising you are not alone.
Often you can think, especially with something like anxiety, that you are the only one who experiences certain things, those feelings of dread, the constant worry the catastrophising etc.
Hearing others experiences can give you relief.
It may be the first time that you hear other people describe their own experiences and realise they are the same as yours.
Anxiety can be very isolating, seeing other people cope ok with things you struggle with, or perhaps feeling that others are judging you for your actions.
Being amongst others who get it and who talk about similar experiences is reassuring for you, helps you realise you are not alone and that there are others who really understand and empathise with what you are going through.
2. It is a space that allows you to talk openly and honestly about how you feel.
You may shy away from talking to your family and friends about your problems for fear of them not understanding or because you do not want to burden them.
In a group of people who experience the same as you it can be easier to talk about those things that trouble you.
Listening to others stories will help you understand your feelings better and enable you to talk about them openly with people who will really hear you, understand you and support you.
A support group will always set boundaries about confidentiality-what is said in the group stays in the group.
And because others understand there will be no judgments, giving you more confidence to talk.
3. It helps you gain a better understanding of your anxiety and helps you find new ways to cope.
In the group the members are encouraged to talk about their anxiety, how situations make them feel and what their fears, challenges and symptoms are.
Being able to speak freely about this can be very liberating and freeing for you.
Through listening to others experiences you learn to accept how you are feeling and members help each other to find ways to deal with their anxiety.
You can learn coping skills, new ways of doing things, new ways of dealing with situations and gain a different perspective on things from other members.
As you start to understand, accept, and cope with your anxiety better your confidence is also likely to increase.
Often there will be speakers who come and visit the group to talk about ways that can help you cope better with your anxiety i.e. relaxation, meditation, exercise, crafting.
4. You have the opportunity to help others.
Helping other members in the group can be as rewarding as helping yourself.
Just as you benefit from listening to other group members experiences you also help them learn from your experiences and both you and the other members will start to grow and make progress with managing and reducing your anxiety.
Sharing your successes with others, being there to help others and being a listening ear for others will all contribute to your own recovery as well as the others in the group.
5. You socialise with others and make new friends.
Support groups are not just about sitting in a circle listening and talking, socialising is also a big part of the support group.
Refreshment breaks and time outs enable you to get to know other members and connect with people who understand you, real friendships can come out of support groups.
Coping with anxiety can often make social situations a bit of an ordeal, anxiety can make you withdraw or not participate.
A support group will allow you to join in as you feel comfortable, and the social aspects of the group can be as useful as the group activities.
Social activities and outings that you can voluntarily take part in, can become an important part of the group for you as well.
A support group will offer you an important part of managing and reducing your anxiety and I would love to welcome you to the Dorset Anxiety Support Group.
Of course, joining an anxiety support group can also be anxiety provoking.
If you want to come with a friend please do.
Attend for a few meetings before making up your mind, it may take you a while to relax and get comfortable.
You will never be asked to do anything you do not want to. If you want to sit and listen and get a feel for the group before joining in yourself that is more than ok.
I am looking forward to our support group meetings and if anyone wants any further information then do please get in touch.
They will be run on a Tuesday Evening at 6.30pm from 13th April 2021.
We will meet at the Parkstone United Reformed Church on Commercial Road, Poole
The meetings will run weekly and will be on a pay as you attend basis, with a fee of £10 per meeting.
Numbers are limited so please contact me to join.
Tel: - 07975733029
E-Mail: - email@example.com
Laura Knight is a qualified and experienced counsellor and registered member of BACP (The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy)
She is an approved Anxiety UK Therapist and has her own private practice SeeClear Counselling, in Poole Dorset.
She offers face to face, telephone and video counselling sessions.
Laura specialises in working with adults who struggle with anxiety helping them to find ways to lead a calmer life through talking therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
For more information about Laura please visit her website https://www.seeclearcounselling.co.uk
Visit her Facebook page https://facebook.com/seeclearcounselling
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel 07975733029