Anxiety is a very broad term to describe the general uneasiness and worry that people experience. For some, it’s just an unpleasant feeling that is quickly overcome, and is a perfectly normal response in stressful or unusual situations such as sitting an exam, having a baby or moving house, amongst others. For a time, people may lose their appetite, be unable to sleep or lose concentration. The ‘fight or flight’ response is nature’s way of protecting us from danger. This is the response we feel when we get anxious. When under threat, our bodies release chemicals such as adrenaline that make us feel more alert and makes our heart beat faster to carry blood where it’s needed most. It’s something that automatically happens in our bodies, over which we have no control. Eventually our bodies relax and things feel normal once again.
When can Anxiety become a problem?
I have suffered with Anxiety for the majority of my life, so writing this article is very important to me. I’ll try to be as accurate as I can, but the most crucial part of this is to tell you how I have coped, and continue to cope with it. It’s very personal and open and I will write a series of articles covering the different aspects of anxiety and how they can make us feel.
As I said previously, anxiety is a normal feeling humans experience; however, it becomes a problem when it starts consuming your life to the point of making you worry constantly, experiencing panic attacks and developing very real and unpleasant physical and psychological effects. And trust me, that’s something I never believed my mind could do, give me real chest and stomach pains!
Anxiety can interfere with your work as you may lack concentration. It can make you feel out of control. It can make you not want to leave the house just in case you feel giddy (another symptom of anxiety). There are many forms and people can suffer very differently.
Symptoms of Anxiety:
- Increased heart rate
- Muscular Tension ( I had chronic neck tension)
- Constant worrying
What can trigger Anxiety?
Sometimes stressful life events may cause our anxiety to get out of control. Maybe a recent divorce, money worries, relationship problems or losing a job.
There have been studies conducted that have suggested that there is a genetic link, or maybe a family member is an anxious person and you have developed that trait because their behaviours have been ‘normalised’ in your household.
Is anxiety the same as worrying?
No. Anxiety is when worrying starts to interfere with the way you think. It can give you negative expectations and change the way you see the world around you.
Some people may just be born worriers. There was a term used for this years ago called ‘Worry Worts’. If we are quite negative in our outlook and look at the things in our lives that could possibly go wrong, we can constantly be on guard in case anything bad happens. This in turn makes it difficult to ‘switch off’. Worrying is actually the right thing to do in some situations – the key to it is getting the amount of worry right, and to only give a problem the amount of worry it deserves. For example, it’s a good idea to remember what might happen if you don’t pay a bill, but a bad idea to actually worry about it unless there’s a real reason that it actually might not get paid. Everybody has these feelings, and they are perfectly normal.
The problem comes when there’s a ‘shadow’ over the way you think, and you start to respond to things negatively, with the assumption that you are going to fail. Without the expectation of success, it’s difficult to try hard at something. But if you don’t put much effort in, you are not likely to succeed. This is a vicious circle, and it’s important to break it. The question is, how? Well, the first thing to do is deal with the anxiety itself, because it’s crippling.
One of the most beneficial things I have learnt is to try and control my anxiety by using relaxation and deep breathing techniques. They really do help me to keep more aware of my feelings and help to overcome any irrational thinking. This can be difficult to achieve at first, especially when we may be panicking, but it can be learnt.
That’s enough for now. I look forward shortly to writing another article about a form of anxiety that I have had to deal with for many years called ‘Health Anxiety’.
Here are a some helpful websites: