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Anxiety

It’s normal to feel anxious when facing a challenging situation, like a job interview, an exam, or a major life change. But when your worries and fears feel overwhelming or interfere with your daily life, you may need support from your doctor or a counselor to help manage your anxiety.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to danger, an automatic alarm that goes off when you feel threatened, under pressure, or are dealing with a stressful situation.

In moderation, anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, anxiety can help you stay alert and focused, motivate you to act or solve problems. But when anxiety is constant or overwhelming or interferes with your relationships and activities, it stops being functional—that’s when you’ve crossed the line from normal, productive anxiety into problematic anxiety.

Some symptoms of problematic anxiety

  • Feeling constantly tense, worried or on edge

  • Anxiety interfering with your daily life (work, school or family responsibilities)

  • Feeling consumed by fears you know are irrational but can’t shake anxiety

  • Believing something bad will happen if things aren’t done in a certain way

  • Avoiding situations or activities because they cause you anxiety

  • Experiencing sudden, unexpected attacks of heart pounding panic

  • Feeling like danger and catastrophe are around every  corner.

 

Emotional Symptoms of Anxiety

  • Feelings of apprehension or dread

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Feeling tense and jumpy

  • Anticipating the worst

  • Irritability

  • Restlessness

  • Watching for signs of danger

  • Feeling like your mind’s gone blank

 

Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

  • Pounding heart

  • Sweating

  • Stomach upset or dizziness

  • Frequent urination or diarrhea

  • Shortness of breath

  • Tremors and twitches

  • Muscle tension

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue

  • Insomnia

 

Panic Attacks & their Symptoms

 

Panic attacks, are periods of intense panic or fear. Panic attacks usually happen suddenly and without warning. Sometimes there’s an obvious trigger—like getting stuck in an elevator or thinking about the big speech you have to give—but sometimes, the attacks come out of the blue.

Panic attacks usually peak within ten minutes, and they rarely last more than thirty minutes. But during that brief time, the terror can be so intense that you feel as if you’re about to die or totally lose control. The physical symptoms of panic attacks can feel so frightening that many people believe they’re having a heart attack. After a panic attack is over, you may be worried about having another one, particularly in a public place where help isn’t available or you can’t easily escape.

 

Symptoms of Panic Attacks

  • Surge of overwhelming panic

  • Feeling of losing control or going crazy

  • Heart palpitations or chest pain

  • Feeling like you’re going to pass out

  • Trouble breathing or choking sensation

  • Hyperventilation

  • Hot flashes or chills

  • Trembling or shaking

  • Nausea or stomach cramps

  • Feeling detached or unreal

 

Tips for Dealing with Anxiety

 You may be anxious because of an overly demanding schedule, lack of exercise or sleep, pressure at home or work, or even from too much coffee. If your lifestyle is unhealthy and stressful, you’re more likely to feel anxious. So if you feel that you worry too much, take some time to assess how well you’re caring for yourself.

  • Do you make time each day for relaxation and fun?

  • Are you getting the emotional support you need?

  • Are you taking care of your body?

  • Are you overloaded with responsibilities?

  • Do you ask for help when you need it?

 

If your stress levels are right up there, think about how you can bring your life back into balance. There may be responsibilities you can give up, turn down, or delegate to others. If you’re feeling isolated or unsupported, find someone you trust to confide in. Sometimes just talking about your worries can make them seem less frightening.

 

#1 Challenging Negative Thoughts

  • Write down your worries. Keep a pad and pencil on you, or type on a laptop, smartphone, or tablet. When you experience anxiety, write down your worries. Writing down is harder work than thinking them, so your negative thoughts are likely to disappear sooner.

  • Create an anxiety worry period. Choose one or two 10 minute “worry periods” each day, time you can devote to anxiety. During your worry period, focus only on negative, anxious thoughts without trying to correct them. The rest of the day, however, is to be designated free of anxiety. When anxious thoughts come into your head during the day, write them down and “postpone” them to your worry period.

  • Accept uncertainty. Unfortunately, worrying about all the things that could go wrong doesn’t make life any more predictable—it just keeps you from enjoying the good things happening in the present. Learn to accept uncertainty and not require immediate solutions to life’s problems.

  • Remember that “this too will pass”. Although it might feel like you are always going to feel like this, remember that this feeling is just temporary and won't last forever.

  • Use affirmations. Use affirmations such as: “This feeling will pass"; "I will get through this"; "I am safe right now"; "I am feeling anxious now, but I have the power make myself calm"; "I can feel my heart rate slowing down."

 

#2 Take Care of Yourself

 

  • Practice relaxation techniques. When practiced regularly, relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing can reduce anxiety symptoms and increase feelings of relaxation and emotional well-being.

  • Adopt healthy eating habits. Start the day right with breakfast, and continue with frequent small meals throughout the day. Going too long without eating leads to low blood sugar, which can make you feel more anxious. 

  • Reduce alcohol and nicotine. They lead to more anxiety, not less.

  • Exercise regularly. Exercise is a natural stress buster and anxiety reliever. To achieve the maximum benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days. 

  • Get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can exacerbate anxious thoughts and feelings, so try to get 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep a night.

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