Let’s Talk About Anxiety
Based on the New York Times Article, The Difference Between Worry, Stress and Anxiety
Anxiety is the combined effect of worry and stress. It’s our body’s attempt to cope with external stressors.
In small, intermittent doses anxiety can sharpen focus (like in the need to study for a big test), but chronic anxiety is harmful to the body and, depending on the severity, could be classified as an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders are a type of mental illness, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). What they each have in common is that the person with the anxiety disorder experiences anxiety that is out of proportion with what’s happening around them (Mental Health America, 2020).
Common symptoms of Anxiety Disorder include:
- Feeling restless and irritable
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle pain, tightness, or soreness
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Feeling exhausted even after a full night’s sleep
- Going out of your way to avoid
- situations that make you anxious
- Intrusive thoughts (unwanted thoughts or worries that won’t go away)
Many people with anxiety also experience depression. Sometimes people who have both conditions only get diagnosed with one because the symptoms can be so similar.
If you think you may be suffering from a chronic anxiety disorder, contact a medical professional to discuss your options.
Three tips to cope with General Anxiety:
Limit consumption of sugar, alcohol and caffeine as these stimulants may have a significant impact on your ability to naturally reduce anxiety.
Check in with your toes. Wiggle them. This kind of intentional refocusing can calm you and break the anxiety loop.
When you’re in the middle of an anxiety episode, try not to talk about it but instead distract yourself with your senses: listen to music, jump rope for five minutes, or rub a piece of Velcro or velvet between your thumb and forefinger.
Remember: Anxiety happens in your mind AND your body so trying to think your way out of it isn't enough.