What is Anxiety?


Anxiety is defined as a feeling we have whenever we experience something that makes us feel nervous or fearful or a sense of something bad happening.

We need a certain degree of “normal” anxiety to keep us safe from harm. This is part of our evolutionary make-up help us perceive dangerous situations and a is part of our fight or flight response.

There is a sense that a certain degree of anxiety is useful to us in some situations. For example if we are sitting an exam or preparing for an important event, a degree of anxiety will heighten our awareness and bodies response to a situation and in turn may help us to perform to a higher level.

When does Anxiety become a problem?

Generally speaking though too much anxiety can be problematic and may lead to us feeling overwhelmed or too anxious and may either impede our performance or even lead to us feeling too anxious to partake in a given activity.

Therefore we need to learn strategies and understand ourselves better so that we can find ways to keep our anxiety to a more manageable level.

Anxiety Disorders are one of the most common mental health problems in this country, with around 8 million experiencing some form of anxiety disorder at any one time (www.anxietyuk.org.uk).

What are the different types of Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety Disorder is a term that encompasses several different disorders. The most common ones include;

Anxiety / Panic Disorder;

Anxiety/Panic Disorder – This is when somebody has sudden or unexpected high levels of anxiety that seem to come out of nowhere. These are known as panic attacks or anxiety attacks. These can feel very scary and people often feel out of control and very fearful. The symptoms of panic attack are increased heart rate, sweating, chest pain, chills and more.

Social Anxiety Disoorder

Social Anxiety Disorder – This is when somebody feels anxious about being in social situations to the point where they may actually avoid social situations to prevent themselves from feeling overwhelmed with anxiety. This may include people avoiding school or work or socialising and may lead to somebody completely avoiding all social situations.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder;

Generalised Anxiety Disorder – This is when someone worries or becomes disproportionally anxious constantly throughout their day. They may worry about all sorts of small and large things in their life and may make getting through the day very difficult for them. Often a good sign that somebody has generalised anxiety disorder is that they may worry about how much they worry about things.

Living with Anxiety

Living with anxiety can be challenging, but there are several strategies that can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Here are some tips:

Practice relaxation techniques: Deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation can help you reduce stress and calm your mind.

Stay active: Regular exercise can help reduce anxiety and improve your overall health. Even just a short walk each day can be beneficial.

Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can exacerbate anxiety symptoms, so it’s important to prioritize good sleep hygiene. Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and avoid caffeine and electronics before bedtime.

Eat a balanced diet: A healthy diet that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats can help improve your mood and energy levels.

Seek support: It’s important to have a support system of friends, family, or a mental health professional who can provide encouragement and guidance when you need it.

Practice self-care: Engage in activities that make you feel good, whether it’s taking a relaxing bath, listening to music, or reading a book. Taking care of yourself can help reduce stress and anxiety.

Challenge negative thoughts: Learn to identify and challenge negative thoughts that contribute to anxiety. Replace them with positive, more realistic thoughts.

Remember, living with anxiety is a journey, and it’s important to be patient and kind to yourself along the way. With the right strategies and support, it is possible to manage your symptoms and lead a fulfilling life.

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