“Anxiety, ah my old friend. How nice is it to not have run into you for some time. Let’s keep it that way, shall we?”
We’ve all experienced anxiety at some stage of our lives, whether its before an exam, after you’ve done something legally or morally wrong, or when you’re about to give a speech in front of an audience. Some people may handle anxiety-inducing events quite well whilst others buckle at the thought of it. Anxiety in short, is a biological response mechanism when you are feeling stressed. It is your body’s way of preparing for the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode, especially about what’s yet to happen. For most people, having spells of feeling anxious is normal, however if it lasts for an extended period of time, such as six months or more, then it could be part of something more serious.
How do I know if I have anxiety?
For majority of the population, anxiety is instinctive. It may show as physiological responses from your body such as excessive sweating from the palm, rapid breaths, increase in heart rate and restlessness. This is all in preparation of what is about to happen such as a piece of news or an event that you may need to process or attack. Whilst some people demonstrate these symptoms, others may experience anxiety in the form of panic attacks, nightmares, or uncontrollable thoughts. It is one of the most common emotional disorders that can occur to anyone at any age, prevalent in more females than males. As such, anxiety may present itself in other disorders including phobias and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That’s why it is crucial to seek appropriate help when treating anxiety, as well as understanding the root causes for this condition.
Anxiety can be pinpointed to a mixture of situational and genetic factors, usually based around a fear of something. This fear can stem from the ‘unknown’, loss of power such as control, and “change”. Whilst this fear is actually a positive attribute for our survival instincts, if left unchecked, it can cause more damage than the situation really requires.
What can I do?
For those who suffer short term bouts of anxiety, treatment can be effective in the form of some lifestyle changes, such as taking care of your body. This includes getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and cutting down on harmful substances such as alcohol and cigarettes.
Other techniques may also include:
- Eating a healthy diet,
- Taking study or work breaks every hour
- Taking a few deep breaths
You can even ask yourself “what is the worst that could happen?” as well as “what is the most likely or probable outcome?” By talking through realistic possibilities, the fear of the unknown become known and the demand becomes a challenge to objectively assess the gravity of a situation.
Usually feelings of anxiety subside once the pressure of the situation has passed. However, when those feelings stay for a lengthy amount of time, it can really start to affect your day-to-day life.
For those who may experience depression as well as other anxiety-related disorders, professional help with a psychologist through counselling or psychotherapy could benefit you greatly.
These methods can teach you to alter your outlook on the stressor and see it for what it is without bias or fear, and to take control and prepare for the situation than become overwhelmed by it. By taking control of your thoughts, you are more aware of what you can control, rather than what you cannot.
As with the cure for any emotional disorder, it is always easier said than done. That’s why if you feel like you are experiencing prolonged anxiety or notice someone close to you displaying these symptoms, acting early to prevent anxiety from escalating will go a long way.