Counselling podcast: The Talk Room

Counselling podcast episode 4: The Talk Room Episode 4 Anxiety and Worry

In today’s fast-paced and uncertain world, feelings of anxiety have become increasingly prevalent, exacerbated by global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, political unrest, and economic instability. This pillar page aims to shed light on the nature of anxiety, explore Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and provide practical strategies for managing anxiety in challenging times.

Understanding Anxiety:
Anxiety is a natural response to stress or perceived threats, characterized by feelings of apprehension, worry, and physiological arousal. While occasional anxiety is normal, persistent and excessive anxiety can interfere with daily functioning and overall well-being.

The Impact of Global Events on Anxiety:
The global pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have contributed to a heightened sense of uncertainty and fear, leading to increased levels of anxiety among individuals worldwide. Factors such as social isolation, financial strain, and health concerns have intensified feelings of worry and apprehension, culminating in what some have described as a “nation of worriers.”

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a common anxiety disorder characterized by excessive and uncontrollable worry about various aspects of life, such as work, relationships, health, and finances. Individuals with GAD may experience persistent anxiety and physical symptoms such as muscle tension, restlessness, and fatigue.

Top Tips for Managing Anxiety:

Practice Mindfulness and Grounding Techniques: Mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and sensory grounding techniques can help anchor you in the present moment and reduce feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.

Limit Exposure to News and Social Media: Constant exposure to news updates and social media feeds can contribute to feelings of anxiety and distress. Set boundaries around your media consumption and prioritize information from reliable sources.

Engage in Regular Physical Activity: Exercise is a powerful tool for managing anxiety and improving overall well-being. Aim for regular physical activity, such as walking, jogging, or yoga, to release tension and boost mood.

Seek Support and Connection: Reach out to friends, family members, or mental health professionals for support. Sharing your concerns and feelings with others can provide validation, comfort, and perspective.

Practice Self-Care and Relaxation: Make self-care a priority by engaging in activities that promote relaxation and well-being, such as reading, listening to music, or spending time in nature.

Consider Therapy or Counselling: Therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), can provide valuable tools and strategies for managing anxiety and building resilience.

Counselling podcast episode 4: The Talk Room Episode 4 Anxiety and Worry

So a really warm welcome to everyone and thank you for joining us for our latest episode of our podcast.

So here is the Talk Room and I’d like to introduce my Co presenter Wendy Castellino.

And for those of you that don’t know Wendy, she’s a she’s worked in mental health and well-being for well over 30 years now.

It’s a hugely knowledgeable and experienced CBT therapist at working in in private practise.

Thank you very much, Ian, for that introduction.

You’re very kind.

I would also like to introduce Ian, who is an accredited councillor and he’s also the director of a very successful counselling service called Hope Therapy and Counselling Services.

So a warm welcome to you, Ian.

Thank you Wendy.

And and it it feels as though we’re living in a really complex world at the moment.

So I I wonder if in your experience with your client work, there’s a there’s a particular way that that people are struggling at the moment.

Yes, very much, Ian.

I think It seems that people are still really suffering from anxiety for a number of reasons.

I think it is still due to the issues from the pandemic.

It feels that people’s anxiety has increased due to the immense change in our lives and also the huge uncertainty it brought to us.

And even though the lockdowns have now stopped, I think many people are still really trying to readjust and reengage back into the community.


And and hear that hope.

We’re noticing exactly the same thing.

The environment, global unrest, the economy, and as you say, the aftermath of of of COVID as well.

All of those things really feeding into to people’s anxieties at the moment.

Yes, very true, Ian.

So these challenges can all affect our anxiety and we have become a national warriors.

So today I thought I would focus on top tips on how to manage worry and that’s a fantastic idea.

So thank you, Wendy.

But I wonder if we could just start by you just taking a moment to explain to to people what worry actually is.


In I want to start first by definition of anxiety.

Anxiety is catastrophizing about the future and the belief that you can’t handle it.

Whereas worry is a particular type of anxiety.

Where you spend a lot of time ruminating about difficult situations.

You could say that worrying is a normal process.

We all do it and it can be part of other mental health problems such as depression or OCD.

In addition, there is a diagnosis called GHD which stands for Generalised Anxiety Disorder, which is basically severe worrying.

So worrying in itself is really, you could say, a chain of involuntary intrusive thoughts and images that are very negative in content.

It is often experiencing as being very distressing and also uncontrollable.

It can also be seen as a deliberate process where some people may think that they need to worry in order to ensure that bad things don’t happen to them.

So that’s really interesting.

So that’s what that’s what worry is and it’s and it’s good to hear that it’s part of a natural process that everybody worries and gets anxious sometimes.

That’s reassuring to me.

But I guess the question is for those people that worry to the extent that it’s really impacting on their lives, how do they go about dealing with that?

A very good question, Ian and I.

Thought I could give some simple but effective techniques on how to tackle worrying.

So the first one I want to talk about is called the worry tree, and I think this is a great metaphor to use when you’re trying to explain how to deal with worries.

So if you think of a worry.

Think of separate branches on trees representing different ways of coping with worry.

So the first step is to decide whether your worry is a solvable worry or an unsolvable worry, and this will help you to decide which branch of the tree you’re going to focus on.

So to give an example.

Worrying about the weather.

Is a worry you can’t solve.

We can’t control the weather, so that would be 1 branch.

But worrying about what you can wear in bad weather is a problem you can solve.

So that would be like another branch of the tree, if that makes sense.


So you’re you’re saying to start by splitting worries into into two categories, like branches on the tree.

The the worries or the branches over here are the ones I can solve and these branches or these worries over here, these are the ones that I can easily do something about.

Exactly and very well explained, and I thought I’d start by working on a solvable worry problem.

So how to do this?

So first of all, it’s good to write down the actual problem and to be specific.

For example, you could write down worrying about being broke.

It’s not very specific, but maybe how to keep warm this winter is a much clearer problem to solve.

And then the next step is to brainstorm as many solutions that you can think of, however wild or unrealistic.

At this stage all solutions should be considered.

It can be also useful to do this with another person to help to gain more and more solutions.

You may also nowadays be willing to Google the problem to access even more solutions.

And then the next step is to decide on, say, four to six of the solutions you like.

And then for each one you create a pro about that solution and a con about that solution and this helps you to define which are the best plans to overcome your problem.

The next step is to then create a plan.

Take the solutions you have finally decided upon and then make a step by step plan.

You can then think about the order of your actions so that there is a logical stepped process.

And then it’s important to actually take action.

This helps you to feel in control and that you are really overcoming your problems.

The final step is to actually review.

Think about how your problems went, how you solved your problems, how this went, what you learned, and then what you could do differently next time.

So if I can use a practical example.

The one that we mentioned earlier, worrying about how to keep warm this winter, because I think it’s a very relevant one at the moment.

So you brainstorm the solutions.

Make a list of all the things you could do.

So for example, wearing warmer clothes, staying in one room, making sure the room is better insulated, researching better ways to save on fuel bills, Google what other people are doing.

And then you take a few of these strategies.

Go through the pros and cons of each one, decide on the ones you want to work on, and then write them down step by step.

This logical first.

An example could be maybe putting on the heating in just one room to start with as that doesn’t take much too much planning and then obviously you take action and then review perfect.

So if you decide what worries you can solve, you follow a problem solving approach and that sounds really easy.

That sounds really straightforward in theory, but I suspect there’s there’s a lot of people that may that may struggle with that.

Is that is that right?

Is that fair to say?

Yes Ian, I completely agree with you.

Um, it does sound simple, but I think what we have to do is therapists is to remind people that part of being a culty behavioural therapist is about skilled development.

So often the more you practise these techniques, the better you get at problem solving, and then the easier the whole process becomes.

OK, so that that makes sense.

But not everything has.

Well, everything has an obvious answer.

Not everything can be solved like the weather that you mentioned earlier, but there are lots of things in life.

As I say, they don’t.

They just don’t have a solvable answer to them.

Those types of worries, they must be really distressing for some people.

Yes, seeing that’s very true and they are distressing.

But I also want to add some strategies about problems that you can’t solve and they just want to mention two here if that’s OK.


So the first one is to actually challenge the worry, the thought itself.

And some good questions to ask yourself is are you confusing thoughts with actual evidence?

Actual facts.

Ask yourself, are you really catastrophizing?

Are you really working and thinking about the worst case scenario in your head?

And another good question to ask yourself is what would be a more realistic and balanced thought?

So if I can give an example to explain it a little bit better.


An example will be worrying about the current economical situation.

Course this is out of our control, so that would be an unsolvable worry.

So as a result, your worries might be catastrophizing about losing your job, being homeless, not feeding your family or your partner leaving you.

The idea is to write these thoughts down and make your worry thoughts explicit and then next to it try to write down a more realistic, balanced thought.

For example.

Remind yourself your job is OK at the moment is OK.

Even if I did lose it, I will do everything I can to get another One South that I get some income coming in.

Remind yourself that worrying about these problems don’t help.

It makes me feel more stressed, and that affects my work performance anyway.

There’s no benefit to worrying.

And the final example will be there is actual no serious evidence whatsoever that my partner wants to leave me.

We work on our problems together, so we keep trying to notice when we’re catastrophizing, when we’re thinking worst case scenarios about things, and try to try to bring it down to being just more realistic, looking at things from a balance perspective and a perspective based on on facts rather than on fears.

Yes, Ian, that’s a very good summary.


I appreciate it isn’t easy to do this, but remember the definition of anxiety itself.

We tend to focus on future catastrophizing.

It’s not based on fact.

It’s based on our fears.

OK, so I’ve got that.

And you said that there was another technique as well that you wanted to talk about, Wendy.

Yes, Ian, these are both quite simple, but I think they’re very effective techniques, and we have discussed in previous podcasts that mindfulness can really help.

So as much as you can, if you notice yourself worrying, refocus your attention on the present moment.

Examples of this could be very simply focusing on your breath.

Or choosing activity simply drinking a cup of coffee.

It can help if you find something you enjoy or you find relaxing.

You do need to practise this and the worry will return but each time focusing on your 5 senses.

Focus on the present moment.

It can also help just to remind yourself that this is just a thought.

The worry is just a thought, a mental process, and then return again focusing to something in the present moment.

Yeah, mindfulness is a is a great practise generally and and can be really really helpful for anxiety.

Here at Hope we do, we do one to one sessions.

We do group sessions of mindfulness and we teach people all about mindfulness and how it can be used with a a variety of things including worry and anxiety and science so often find it really really helpful.

So so I, I I get what you’re saying.


And and and our very first podcast, of course was on mindfulness, wasn’t it?

Yes, and it’s very good.

And if anybody wants to go back and listen to that, they’re very welcome because it’s very, very useful to do that.

So thank you for that, Ian.

I just want to make one small point is sometimes worries are more complex than that and sometimes there are a combination of things that you can do something about and things you can’t.

If that is the case, all you need to do is split them into two do problem solving on the bit of the worry that you can do and then allow the other worries to go as explained earlier.

That’s great, Wendy, thank you so much for that.

And if anybody wants to know more about worry and anxiety or to get help with those both both you Wendy and hate therapy and counselling services have have websites.

The Hype Therapy website is and if people just go to the support for sectioning click on anxiety we have a whole range of resources that blog posts general information.

And of course if people just want to get in touch just to talk about things rather than just looking at the website they’re very very welcome to to do so.

And you of course, Wendy, you have a website, it may be just tell a little bit that people are a little bit about about your sites.

Yes, thank you for that.

Yes, my website is called Wendy C Dot team.

You just go on that website and there’s resources there.


Would you like to say a little bit about what we’re covering next session?

Well, this time of year I thought it would be a good idea for us to do something around Christmas.

And the challenge is that that people so often experience around around the Christmas period.

So it might be about being alone or it might be about navigating family dynamics in relationships, stress of children, whereas about money.

So we’ll be covering all of that in the in in the next podcast and I’m really looking forward to doing that one with you Andy.

Yeah, me too.

Me too.

Ian, I’m really looking forward to that.

Thank you so much for spending time with us today and see you again at the next podcast and thank you to everyone for listening.

Thank you.

Bye, bye.

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