What causes anxiety and how to deal with it
We all experience anxiety; it’s part of being human. Anything that puts you out of your personal comfort zone can kick-start feelings of anxiety.
There are different types of anxiety:
Acute anxiety - Comes on suddenly, often with an obvious trigger point, such as nerves or a panic attack.
Defined periodic anxiety - Impacts throughout a person’s life for a defined period of time, usually linked to a particular issue, problem or incident, such as bereavement, illness, accident or relationship breakdown.
Chronic anxiety - Affects the sufferer daily, over a long period of time.
Anxiety is complex; it is possible to have more than one of the above occurring within the same person at any given period of time. And, anxiety can manifest itself in many different ways, which can have further implications on our mental health.
So, what are the symptoms of anxiety?
There are many and they are as individual as you are. Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety are:
- Heart rate begins to speed up
- The speed of action in your surroundings gets notably faster or slower
- You begin to feel detached from reality
- You begin to sweat
- Your mouth becomes dry
- Your breathing feels tight and shallow
- You feel as though it is hard to breathe
- You feel very hot or very cold
- A sense of being out of control
- A feeling as though you are about to faint
- Irritability, impatience or a sense of dread
- Difficulty sleeping
What can you do to deal with feelings of anxiety?
Often, people feel that they are alone in their problem or that the issues they are feeling anxious about are either trivial and ‘silly’. Or, at the other end of the scale, some people feel that their anxieties are insurmountable and terrifying.
Either end of this spectrum often results in the same behaviour - that it is pushed to the side, hidden from others and suffered in silence.
The good news is, though, that there is an answer, for everyone. You may be able to solve the issue on your own or you might benefit from seeking coaching, which should result in a faster resolution.
The key to understanding how to deal with your anxiety is by doing 5 things:
1. Identify when the anxiety started, the first instance of it.
This will put your fears and worries into perspective and also allow you to realise that, whatever the situation is today, the cause of this is in the past, which is over with now.
2. Pinpoint what the trigger is for an attack or heightened feeling of anxiety.
Figuring out the triggers can allow you to prepare yourself for similar situations in the future and decide on a different course of action in response to the trigger.
3. Notice patterns of behaviour or strategies.
Looking at your thought and behaviour patterns around the anxiety will allow you to identify times when you are almost paving the way for the anxiety to take hold. For instance, I only make up the spare bed if a guest is staying. The pattern of making the bed builds an expectation in my mind. That will be the same for your anxiety.
Change the pattern and you will change the expectation, which will result in different thoughts and behaviour.
4. Acknowledge what the benefits were of your anxiety or phobia.
Usually, there was a very sensible reason why the pattern started - either to protect us from something or warn us about something. Acknowledge what it was, identify if there is still anything left outstanding that you need to do or learn to move on and act upon it.
5. Decide what you want instead.
To move on from anxiety, you need to decide how you want to be instead. Play this out in your mind - keep it in the positive as much as possible (so, ‘I will be able to see my friends more’ versus ‘I won’t be stuck in the house as much’). Identify the benefits and ensure that this is worth more to you now than the old anxious behaviour.
For more help and support with anxiety, visit Counselling Directory.