28. Managing anxiety

Dandelion clock. Managing Anxiety adoption search

Managing Anxiety During your journey with us.

Anxiety when making a Search.

It is inevitable that a journey to meet previously unknown family members may cause feelings. Some of these will be positive and exciting and some may be anxious and fearful. This leaflet tells you about some aspects of managing anxiety.

You may notice that we take a lot of trouble to find out if you are pre-disposition to anxiety or any mental health vulnerabilities before we start our work with you. This is so that we can be sure that you are in a stable position before you start as we know how demanding this work can be. It’s good to start from a secure base. If you have any vulnerabilities, we will ensure that you are supported by relevant professionals near to your home and we always ask for a named ‘buddy’ to support all our clients so that you can share with a trusted person who lives close to you.

Anxiety for the Subjects of our Searches.

We are especially mindful that subjects of our search (the people we are tracing) may be anxious when we contact them in the first instance. It is usually the case that as soon as we can speak in person to our subjects, we can allay their fears and answer their questions and concerns. As we always say, we are here to listen to your wishes relating to contact with your relative and we will act according to these and protect your identity if you wish for no contact. Please read Advice Leaflet no 8 which tells you what to do if you do not want contact.

Try to remember that anxiety is a perfectly normal response to life – to the unknown or anything new. ….it is not going to harm you…. It is merely your sensory system at work saying, ‘this is new to me and I don’t know what comes next.’ But when we are anxious we experience all sorts of feelings:

Experiences when you are anxious.

Your mind my race with worrying thoughts.

You may continuously try to anticipate the outcome of your journey.

You may have feelings of nervousness in your stomach.

You may not feel like eating or you may eat too much.

You may not sleep so well.

You may overuse alcohol to soothe yourself.

Your shoulders may feel tense.

You may feel irritable.

You may feel upset.

You may start to worry about small things.

Avoiding Things.

Sometimes when we are anxious, we start to avoid the thing we are anxious about. Some of our clients struggle to write an introductory letter, or they shut themselves away so we cannot contact them or help them. This is normal but overall it won’t help your search not to communicate with us. Our team have a lot of life experience and we have come across many scenarios in our work. It is unlikely that you will upset or surprise us with your concerns. So, we hope you will contact us rather than avoid the next stage of the journey. If you wish for no contact with someone who is searching for you – please tell us directly and we can close the matter down so that you are not troubled further. There is a lot you can do if you don’t wish for contact and of course we will not reveal your identity. Please see our leaflet No 8.

What to do if you are anxious.

We can’t solve all your life problems. But we can solve any problems relating to your adoption search. We can do this more quickly if you make us aware of these problems.

Here is what to do if you find you have anxiety or panic about your search.

Speak to Us.

If you are struggling with anxiety, try to identify any specific thoughts that are emerging. A lot of thinking when we are worried or anxious can be irrational, but it is best to check those thoughts. So, we always encourage people to e-mail us with any concerns however small they may seem. That way we can alleviate your anxiety quickly by giving accurate information before your thinking runs away with itself. Some of our thinking can run into a disaster movie scenario when really you do not need to do this. For the most part there will be reasonable and valid explanations for everything that is happening, and we can explain in detail. So, speak to us and we will chase those worries away with good clear information.

Try not to let time frames bother you.

Sometimes the timeframes in a search can be annoyingly long. We try to make these as predictable as possible but just occasionally there may be things to do that extend your search. Try to work with us to establish realistic timeframes and if we go beyond these write to us and ask us why. Time can be a friend or an oppressor depending on your perspective. In this case we will try to keep timing manageable to reduce anxiety.

Get good Sleep and Eat Well.

These two factors alone make a massive contribution to anxiety levels. If you eat lots of sugar and don’t get enough sleep, you are going to put your central nervous system under a lot of pressure. Try to engage in good self-care with a healthy diet and managed sleep while you are making your search so that you arrive at your destination in a good state of mind and body.

Try to take time to relax and think calming thoughts.

Your thoughts really matter. Try to focus on thoughts that calm you rather than thoughts that distress you. If you can’t think of calming thoughts, then give us a call but here are some to help. ‘I am supported and can get through this.’ – ‘I am doing the right thing in the right way.’ ‘I am showing commitment to find my relative no matter what the outcome.’ On the other hand, if you are saying to yourself ‘this is a bad thing to do.’ And ‘this won’t work out well’….you are not going to feel happy. It is better to hope for the best and be prepared for any eventuality rather than create a doomsday scenario in your mind.

Breathing will calm you down.

The best medicine for any amount of anxiety is to sit and breathe calmly. Even if you just take ten minutes a day to do this you will be calmer. Try the ‘daily calm’ app for a daily calm boost or listen to some calming music that makes you slow down and calm down. Calm is the very opposite of anxiety and you can create through calm breathing, stretching, mindfulness and listening to calm music. There are many apps for this today such as ‘Head Space’ which is an app recommended by the NHS to reduce anxiety and increase mindfulness.


Go to NHS Every Mind Matters website. There is helpful advice for everyone on anxiety on there. Failing that if your symptoms are extreme, please go to your G.P. for advice. In a mental health emergency always call 111 for the best advice.

Healthy Distraction.

Alcohol and overeating are not healthy distractions. Going for a walk, engaging in a game, taking up a new hobby, reading a book, decorating a room, tidying that cupboard – these are all healthy distractions.

Try to Keep Perspective.

A conversation with us should help you keep a perspective but remember that when you are on your own it is easy to exaggerate the negatives. Try to take the worst outcome and the best outcome and merge them into a perfectly manageable outcome.

Make a list of the things you need to do to reach your Goal.

Find people and friends with whom you can share this journey.

If you need help with enduring mental health conditions let us know and we can make sure you are linked to the long-term service that is right for you.

Decide which family members you wish to tell and at what stage you wish to tell them.

Prepare your introductory letter. You have plenty of time to do this – see our leaflet number six which gives you advice.

Give yourself a goal of reading some books you have always meant to read.

Go on an exercise schedule until the search is completed.

Wishing you a Calm Journey.

Dr. Joanna North

Consultant Psychotherapist (Adoption)

September 2024.

Joanna North Adoption (Ofsted registered)

Dandelion clock. Managing Anxiety adoption search