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On Anxiety and How to Cope

What is anxiety?


Anxiety is an intense, persistent and excessive fear and worry about everyday situations. Prolonged stress that is not dealt with effectively can lead to anxiety. While we all experience anxiety in certain situations such as before an important exam or before meeting someone new, it’s healthy as long as it helps us cope and feel motivated. Majority of us experience this type of anxiety at some point in our lives.


When this anxiety starts to interfere with daily functioning such as our relationships, our work life and our personal lives, it’s a sign to seek professional help as there are risks for it to turn into anxiety disorders.


How does anxiety present itself?


Feelings of restlessness

Sometimes you may feel jittery and on the edge. If you find yourself sitting and shaking your legs, playing with your hands and constantly feeling the need to pace up and down, it’s a sign you are probably restless. Sometimes, even biting nails can be a sign of restlessness.


Trembling or shaking

Do you sometimes find that your hands and legs seem a bit shaky and start trembling? Maybe you’re using your phone or holding onto a cup and you feel some kind of tremors? It could be a potential sign of anxiety. Trembling and shaking due to anxiety can also aggravate due to caffeine and alcohol use.


Feeling fatigued

When someone experiences anxiety, they may also be perpetually exhausted. Despite sleeping well, they may wake up feeling fatigued. This primarily occurs because only our body is resting and not the mind. The mind is in a state of constant worry and continuous thinking.


Difficulty concentrating

Due to constant pacing of thoughts, it’s possible for the person to be overwhelmed at all times. When this happens, it may be tough to concentrate. You may find yourself constantly zoning out, reaching out to your device, or even day dreaming. Sometimes, it may even feel like you are functioning on autopilot.


Irritability

A common way that anxiety presents itself is through irritability and anger. Generally, they may be low on patience and because of feeling overly anxious and jittery, they may tend to get angry and irritated for the smallest of things.


Irrational worries about objects or situations

Worrying about objects or situations due to a past event associated with negative emotions. In reality, however, there is no real threat. The person magnifies these events and it turns into irrational fears.


Types of Anxiety Disorders


Generalised Anxiety Disorder

An excessive amount of constant worry that interferes with daily activities is what generalised anxiety disorder comprises. This constant stress and tension may be accompanied by bodily symptoms, such as restlessness, feeling on edge or easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, muscle strain or problems sleeping. Worries frequently centre on routine issues like work obligations, family health, or unimportant things like chores, auto maintenance, or appointments.


An overwhelming and ongoing fear of a particular thing, circumstance, or activity that is typically not harmful is referred to as a specific phobia. Patients are aware of their overwhelming fear, but they are unable to get over it. Some people may go to great lengths to escape their anxieties because they are so distressing. Examples include the fear of public speaking, flying, or spiders.


Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is the fear of being in circumstances where leaving would be awkward or difficult, or where getting aid might be difficult in the event of panic attacks. The worry is excessive compared to the situation, lasts for at least six months, and interferes with daily functioning. A person who suffers from agoraphobia feels fear in two or more of the following circumstances:

  • Accessing public transportation

  • Being in spaces that are open

  • Being in an enclosed space

  • Being in a crowded place

  • Being outside the home alone


The person actively avoids the encounter, needs company, or endures it while experiencing great fear or anxiety. A person may no longer be able to leave the house if agoraphobia is left untreated. Only if the fear significantly interferes with everyday activities or is extremely upsetting may a person be diagnosed with agoraphobia.


Panic Disorder

Recurrent panic episodes, a crippling complication of both physical and psychological discomfort, are the primary symptom of panic disorder. Some of these symptoms combine to indicate an attack: rapid heart rate, sweating, palpitations, trembling and shaking, shortness of breath, chills, hot flashes and fear of losing control and dying.


Some Uncommon Ways in Which Anxiety Shows Up


Skin Rashes

Ringing Ears

Waking up with a Heavy Feeling

Perfectionist Behaviours

Avoidance of Tasks

Being Indecisive


Techniques to Manage your Anxiety


Journalling

Maintaining a journal or diary where you can express yourself and keep track of your thoughts and emotions can help identify your triggers and other stressors and can also serve as an outlet for negative emotions.


Breathing

Engaging in deep breathing practices helps to regulate the nervous system and take care of physical symptoms of anxiety. Long inhalations and exhalations can go a long way in reducing anxiety.

Mindfulness

Can help lead life with purpose and meaning by learning psychological flexibility. It allows for those with anxiety to consciously shift attention towards what is currently happening rather than paying attention to physical bodily sensations.


Physical Activity

Engaging in any kind of physical activity that gets your heart pacing, is a powerful stress buster. It can uplift your mood. Start out with small goals, and gradually increase the amount into your daily schedule.

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