Anxiety is not a dirty word.
Anxiety, it’s real and it can range from the innocuous irritating back of your mind presence to the all-encompassing rocking in the corner variety. Some people don’t really understand the extent anxiety can reach and it can seem like something to just get over so when presented with someone suffering severe anxiety it can appear to be not such a big deal. This is where the stigma occurs.
In practice it is extremely common for clients to come in and discuss difficulties they have with their mind racing and worries becoming overwhelming. Quite often they feel like they are alone and somehow abnormal so in reality if you don’t have some kind of anxiety in the world in which we live then there is likely a problem.
What do we mean by this? Well considering all of the stimulus we subject our brains to and the information we consume everyday it is natural for your nervous system to be running hot. If you look at the statistics of anxiety related disorders in the current day you’ll see they have increased dramatically over the past 20 years.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is the reaction our body has to stress so depending on how much stress we experience anxiety can be mild or severe. We become worried about the future, what is to come. Am I going to stuff up that work presentation? What am I going to talk about on my first date? Am I going to be able to provide enough for my kids?
The problem with anxiety is the more stress we come under the more minor things create a disproportionate anxiety response. Under enough pressure and even minor things like getting the kids to soccer practice on time can become major in our minds.
What causes anxiety?
Quite simply, stress. Large important events like a wedding, new job, partner becoming ill are all significant stressors in our lives. Also multiple smaller events like the car breaking down, a new colleague at work, a disagreement with a friend occurring at the same time can have the same impact so when we have enough events or pressure then this will translate to anxiety.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
- Poor concentration
- Excessive or obsessive thinking
- Wanting to hide from the world
- Irrational reactions to situations
- Feeling paralysed
- Mind racing
- Increased or reduced appetite
- Shortness of breath
What can you do to reduce anxiety?
- Reduce stimulus – this will allow the nervous system to gradually drop back regularly to a normal operating level therefore helping your whole system to reset and recover.
- Reduce caffeine – whilst a good coffee is gold, too many will push our nervous system into hyper-stimulation and so it is a lot harder to bring ourselves down. And yes pre-workout counts.
- Be aware of stress – When anxiety is heightened it is a good time to re-evaluate the difference between what is vital and what is desired. Therefore going back to basic needs reduces the risk of overwhelm and anxiety because too many things on our plate just doesn’t work over the long term.
- Ditch the device – learn to not reach for your phone, tablet or computer when you have some downtime. Experience what it is like to sit in a waiting room or a bus stop and just observe what is going on around you as this keeps you in touch with the present and reduces brain stimulation to a more moderate level.
- Manage social media – social media is an absolute trigger for anxiety so reduce your exposure to it. Create set times in the day when you check it and limit how long you send on it and don’t let business be an excuse either. Efficient time management means efficient social media management.
- No devices after 7pm – Towards the end of the day remove devices from your routine. Spend more time with family and friends, reading or just chilling out. This improves your quality of sleep and helps reduce anxiety.
- Meditation – daily meditation even for small periods can significantly help reduce your nervous system excitability and anxiety. Read more.
In the meantime get your zen on.