Practical steps to address your anxiety
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry or fear, that can be mild or severe or anywhere along the spectrum. It is a normal part of life that we all experience and it enhances our ability to flee or fight a threat.
It becomes problematic when we see the ordinary world and normal life situations as 'threatening' and respond to minor threats or worries as if they were major.
When we are anxious, our body goes into the 'flght, flight fright' response. Symptoms include breathing faster (and more shallow), nausea (as the blood is redirected from the gut to the muscles), increased heart rate, sweating, muscle tension and dilation of pupils.
A recent report from the World Health Organsiation (WHO) shows that Ireland ranks in the top 10 countries worldwide for the percentage of the population affected by anxiety disorders (6.3 per cent).
The range of anxiety disorders include generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, panic and agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive, and post traumatic stress disorders.
Recent research by laya healthcare in Ireland, indicates that 80 per cent of adults have been affected by anxiety, with 44 per cent saying their mental wellbeing is of real concern to them.
Money, poor sleep and being overweight were all cited as major problems by 40 to 49 percent of respondents and spending too much time on social media is also cited as having a negative impact on mental health by 20 percent of respondents.
The most important thing to know is that anxiety is treatable and can be solved. Like most health problems, the quicker it is dealt with, the speedier and smoother the recovery.
Here are a few steps to take in addressing anything that is making you 'over' anxious.
1. Generally, look at what is making you anxious and do your best to address it (if possible). If it is something specific, assess whether your worry is reasonable ? How likely is it to happen? Can you do something about it? If you can, what can you do? Plan that action now or at the appropriate time. If you cannot improve the situation, can you let it go if it is reasonable to do so? Or get support. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is one therapy shown to have a lot of success in helping people think differently.
2. Deal with the symptoms (through breathing and other relaxation techniques)
3. Confront the situation (if something specific) if you can bring yourself to do this and if not too overwhelming. This process may take a short time or longer but the important thing is that you move towards solving your problem which will bring confidence and a long-term solution. You can do this alone or with the help of others.
4. There are many things that are known to help alleviate anxiety. Taking time out to Practice yoga, listening to music, meditation, practicing relaxation techniques all help clear your head .
5. Eat Well. Eat healthy food and don't skip meals. Minimize alcohol and caffeine which can aggravate anxiety and panic attacks. Drink enough water.
6. Breath well - breathe deeply, smoothly and evenly regularly. When we slow the breath down, the mind slows down.
7. Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
8. Exercise regularly. The recommended amount is 30 minutes x 5 times per week. .
9. Do your best. And be happy with that.
10. And ask for help when you need it or when you have done all you can and cannot move further.