What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a range of negative thoughts, feelings and experiences. It is a type of fear that manifests creating unwanted thoughts. It is what we feel when we become afraid of what may happen.
Ryan Reynolds opened about the anxiety he experienced whilst filming Deadpool. “I never, ever slept. Or I was sleeping at a perfect right angle – just sitting straight, constantly working at the same time”, he explained.1
I totally get what Ryan is saying.
At times when I feel stressed, I have a tight deadline at work and the pressure is mounting, a feeling comes over me and I feel like I must make sacrifices such as not sleeping in order to get things done (EG FINISHING THIS BLOG POST).
And of course, lack of sleep has a negative impact on our health.
You’ll be surprised by the amount of people who have anxiety.
According to mentalhealth.org, 10 million people in the UK are affected by anxiety.
“21 pence is spent on research each year for every person affected in the UK.”
“One in six people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem such as depression or anxiety”.
What is anxiety caused by?
Anxiety can be caused by nature and nurture factors.
Nature are biological factors such as your genetics. There are many studies that suggest that genetics does indeed play a role in the development of disorders such as anxiety.
In an article published by Psychology today, German researchers conducted a study and found that individuals with an anxiety such as a social phobia produced more serotonin (a chemical that contributes to our emotions, appetite, cognitive and autonomic functions) compared with those who do not have the disorder.2.
The researchers believed that the excesses serotonin can increase anxiety not decrease it as previously thought.
Beside from biology, our environment and lifestyle may also create a level of anxiety. Childhood experiences such as parental divorce may make us more vulnerable to developing mental health disorders.
Children also learn by observation. I believe as children, we copy what we see.
I copied how I saw my mother deal with things that were stressing her out. She didn’t talk about what was bothering her. She let it build up until it became to much. I do the same, sometimes.
Instead of talking about what caused me stress, I used to drink to forget about my problems which isn’t the best idea as the alcohol may only heighten our current thoughts and feelings.
Who may develop anxiety?
Anyone can experience anxiety in their lifetime depending on their circumstances; the trauma you experience or a form of a trigger. Mental health doesn’t discriminate.
However, some people are more susceptible to developing anxiety than others as they may have a genetic deposition. A relative may have been diagnosed with anxiety for example.
Everyone experiences symptoms differently. What one may experience the other may not.
Physical symptoms may include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Tense muscles
- Fast breathing
- Dry mouth
- Lack of concentration
- Low self esteem
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling irritable
Currently, I am struggling with getting to sleep and staying asleep throughout the night. I recently realised that I grind my teeth far too often. I subconsciously clench down on my jaw several times a day. When I realise that I am grinding my teeth, I take a few deep breaths and regain my focus on the task at hand as I get easily distracted also.
As mentioned prior, anxiety affects everyone in different ways. Anxiety may come and go for some however, there are many people across the country who are constantly troubled by anxiety causing a long-term effect.
I find it useful to ask myself questions such as, ‘what triggers me?’, ‘what causes me to feel more anxious?’
By finding this out, you would be able to identify possible triggering situations that could create anxiety and avoid these situations or discover ways you can reduce your anxiety. For example, I am not a fan of crowds so if I need to go shopping, I go when it is less crowded.
Exercise really boots my energy and reduces my stress levels quite a bit. It has been proven to aid the reduction of stress. Anxiety UK states that,3 some of the benefits of exercise include less frustration, tension, stress and mental fatigue.
I understand that not everyone likes to go the gym. Why not try home workouts instead?! Type in home workouts on youtube; there are millions of videos to choose from so take your pick.
If you’re a complete novice that is ok. Let’s do baby steps. Perhaps listening to music and dance around your room! Not only is it fun you’re burning some calories while your doing it. Trust me, it will boost your mood almost immediately.
Have you ever heard of the phrase: you are what you eat? This is SO true!! I stopped eating meat a couple of years ago because after eating meat I used to feel super sluggish, tired and just yucky.
Foods and drinks that are high in caffeine can create a level of anxiety.4 The caffeine will give produce a bit more serotonin which can cause you to become more anxious.
I understand that an energy boost is necessary to get through the day but please be mindful of your daily intake of caffeine.
Some rely on medication to keep them calm. For me, I believe that medication is plan z. I will research every holistic method that can be used to reduce stress and try to implement these techniques into my everyday routine e.g. counselling. Although, medication does have some benefits.
Benzodiazepines is commonly prescribed for treating anxiety5. It is fast acting (compared to counselling) however they are many side effects such as memory problems and headaches. (Side effects impact people differently, so please consult a GP if you are interested in finding out more information)
Overall, medication is considered as temporary; a short term solution when dealing with anxiety but please do some research (don’t just take my word for it) if possible when deciding how best to cope with anxiety.
As mentioned before…and I will keep mentioning if. ANXIETY DIFFERS BETWEEN EACH AND EVERY INDIVIDUAL. Some may find that medication works for them whereas others may find that meditation has been equally as helpful.
Make the decision best for YOU.
To those who are reading, if you are experiencing any symptoms mentioned above, please try the tips I used to combat your anxiety.
Talk to a loved one, a trained professional or a person you that trust in when deciding how best to combat anxiety.
Thanks for reading.