Anxiety is the body’s physical response to a threat or perceived threat. It causes a pounding heart, rapid breathing, butterflies in the stomach, and a burst of energy as well as mental responses such as excessive fears, worries, or obsessive thinking.
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. It helps us to avoid danger by giving us energy and alertness to escape. But for some people, anxious feelings don’t go away. They can see situations as much worse than they are, and their anxiety affects their ability to concentrate, sleep and carry out ordinary tasks. These feelings can be caused by anxiety disorders.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
You may have an anxiety disorder if you often feel scared, worried, or nervous, or if you always worry that something bad is going to happen.
Anxiety can affect someone’s ability to concentrate, sleep and carry out ordinary tasks at work, home, or school. People with anxiety disorders often feel they have to avoid stressful situations and, in extreme cases, avoid going out altogether.
Physical symptoms are common and include shortness of breath, a pounding heart, and trembling hands.
Signs of anxiety
There are different types of anxiety disorder and each has different symptoms. However, there are some signs and symptoms that might mean you have anxiety.
- a panic attacks
- shortness of breath
- a racing hearts
- problems sleeping
- a churning stomach or stomach ache
- feeling very thirsty
Someone who has anxiety may avoid situations that make them feel anxious. This can affect their everyday life.
They might excessively worry about the past, present, or future and have trouble thinking about anything else.
- feeling apprehensive or powerless
- feeling like something bad is about to happen
- the feeling you’re in danger
- a racing minds
- difficulty concentrating, finding it hard to think
- memory problems
The causes of anxiety
A range of factors is thought to contribute to anxiety symptoms, which can then go on to become disorders. Most anxious people probably have genes that make them more likely to develop an anxiety disorder.
The risk factors for anxiety include:
- family history — you are more likely to develop anxiety if you have a family history of anxiety or other mental health issues (though it doesn’t mean if there are mental health issues in your family you will develop anxiety)
- having another mental health issue
- ongoing stressful situations, such as job issues or changes, unstable accommodation, family or relationship breakdown, and grief
- any kind of abuse (such as physical, sexual, verbal, or domestic abuse)
- life-threatening events
- physical health issues such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or hormonal issues, such as thyroid problems
- consuming caffeine, as well as some non-prescription and herbal medicines
- having a certain personality type, such as being a perfectionist, having low self-esteem, or needing to be in control
Everyone is different and often a combination of factors contributes to developing an anxiety disorder.
Tips to cope with anxiety:
There are things you can learn to do to help manage your anxiety. Different strategies work for different people.
Question your thought pattern
Negative thoughts can take root in your mind and distort the severity of the situation. One way is to challenge your fears, ask if they’re true, and see where you can take back control.
Identify and learn to manage your triggers
You can identify triggers on your own or with a therapist. Sometimes they can be obvious, like caffeine, drinking alcohol, or smoking. Other times they can be less obvious.
When you do figure out your trigger, you should try to limit your exposure if you can. If you can’t limit it — like if it’s due to a stressful work environment that you can’t currently change — using other coping techniques may help.
Practice focused, deep breathing
Try breathing in for 4 counts and breathing out for 4 counts for 5 minutes total. By evening out your breath, you’ll slow your heart rate which should help calm you down.
Whether they’re in essential oil form, incense, or a candle, natural scents like lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood can be very soothing.
Aromatherapy is thought to help activate certain receptors in your brain, potentially easing anxiety.
Make sure you exercise regularly.
Even a 10-minute short walk can help to improve how you feel and may make you feel less tired. Exercise helps boost your levels of serotonin. If you have not exercised in a long time, check with your doctor that it is safe for you.
Sometimes, the best way to stop anxious thoughts is to walk away from the situation. Taking some time to focus on your body and not your mind may help relieve your anxiety.
Getting some quick exercise can help boost your mood and calm your mind.
If you have a problem making exercising your habit, you can use the Habitomic app to help you in this regard.
Take time for yourself.
Try to get involved in activities and pastimes you previously enjoyed — even if you don’t feel like it.
Use relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness and meditation.
While this takes some practice to do successfully, mindful meditation, when done regularly, can eventually help you train your brain to dismiss anxious thoughts when they arise.
If sitting still and concentrating is difficult, try starting with yoga, or walking meditation.
Try to live in the present
Anxiety can make your thoughts live in a terrible future that hasn’t happened yet. Try to bring yourself back to where you are.
Use distraction techniques, such as counting backward from 10, to help you stay in the present moment rather than thinking of terrible things that might happen in the future.
Breathing can help with physical symptoms, and controlled breathing exercises can reduce the risk of symptoms worsening into a panic attack.
Challenge your self-talk.
Learn how to change your self-talk or inner thought patterns (a mental health professional can help you do this)
How you think affects how you feel. Anxiety can make you overestimate the danger in a situation and underestimate your ability to handle it. Try to think of different interpretations of a situation that’s making you anxious, rather than jumping to the worst-case scenario. Look at the facts for and against your thought being true.
Progressive muscle relaxation.
Find a quiet location. Close your eyes and slowly tense and then relax each of your muscle groups from your toes to your head. Hold the tension for three seconds and then release quickly. This can help reduce the feelings of muscle tension that often come with anxiety.
Keeping active, eating well, going out into nature, spending time with family and friends, reducing stress, and doing the activities you enjoy are all effective in reducing anxiety and improving your wellbeing.
Cut down on caffeine, which can increase anxiety and alter sleep patterns in some people. Avoid tea, coffee, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate, especially after 6 pm.
Limit how much alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs you use.
Plan worry time.
It’s hard to stop worrying entirely so set aside some time to indulge your worries. Even 10 minutes each evening to write them down or go over them in your head can help stop your worries from taking over at other times.
Write down your thoughts
It can be helpful to create a habit of writing down your thoughts and emotions in a journal each day. The process of writing down thoughts itself can be calming for some.
However, it can also help you keep track of when you experience anxiety, how it makes you feel, and what sort of things trigger it.
In conclusion, if anxiety is impacting your everyday life, talking to a doctor or a mental healthcare professional is the first step to getting the right support and understanding the options for treatment. Also, as mentioned there are some techniques you can try to make your anxiety less.