Imagine this – you’re on your way to an important meeting. You’ve prepared well for it and are confident. But just as you enter the meeting room, you forget everything. Suddenly, your palms get sweaty, and your heart starts racing. You worry whether you’ll remember everything and if the presentation will go right. Sound familiar? That’s because most of us have experienced this kind of anxiety at least once in our lifetime. However, anxiety doesn’t have a fixed form and can occur differently at any given time. So, how do you know if you have anxiety? Are there any coping strategies for anxiety? Let’s find answers to all these questions.
What is anxiety?
Simply put, anxiety is a feeling of worry and uneasiness. It can be mild or severe depending on the situation and is usually temporary, but if it persists for a long time and interferes with your daily life, then it may be diagnosed as an anxiety disorder.
Not everyone experiences anxiety the same way. While your response to a stressful situation (like giving an office presentation) may be that of sweating, someone else’s body might make them feel dizzy or lightheaded. Similarly, no two people have the exact same trigger point(s). While one person may feel anxious about driving on public roads, you may be quite comfortable with it.
What causes anxiety?
What causes anxiety. While there is no single reason people feel anxious, anxiety can be a byproduct of multiple issues. The most common causes of anxiety are listed below:
- Past trauma
- Stress due to work or personal life
- Chronic diseases
- Substance abuse
- Underlying mental health disorder
- Blood relatives with mental health problems
- Difficult experiences during childhood
How does anxiety affect us? Symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety creeps up silently and up until it becomes severe or has visible effects, most of us fail to recognise it. However, there are definitely ways to identify it early. Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety are as follows:
- Feeling of restlessness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Constant fatigue or low energy
- Muscle aches and tensions
- Problems staying focused
- Inability to think clearly
- Sweating profusely
- Rapid heartbeats
- Panic attacks (mostly in severe cases)
All of the above symptoms impact our lives in the following ways:
Interference in daily life: Anxiety can interfere with our daily life by making simple tasks tough to execute. It is known to affect our ability to socialise, run errands and can leave us feeling fatigued.
Disturbs sleep cycle: Studies have shown that anxiety affects our sleep. Approximately, one third of the population have reported disturbances in sleep due to mental distresses.
Increased risk of other mental health conditions: Anxiety can give way to other mental health conditions such as depression, substance abuse and eating disorders.
Negative impact on relationships: Difficulty in communication, fluctuations in mood, less engagement in social activities can arise due to anxiety and can significantly impact relationships with loved ones.
Impaired cognitive functioning: Research has found that anxiety may impair cognitive functioning. Being easily distracted, having poor concentration, intrusive thoughts, and lapses in attention are just a few examples.
How to reduce anxiety?: Top tips for anxiety management
By now, all of the above must have made you realise the seriousness of untreated anxiety. So is there a way to reduce anxiety? Are there any coping strategies for anxiety? Yes. Let’s read below:
Journaling: Some of us may find journaling boring but it is an effective way to reduce anxiety. Journaling requires you to reflect back on moments which can help to process your feelings. This can help reduce intrusive thoughts and overthinking. Finding 10 minutes in the day to pen down your thoughts about the past 24 hours can help to improve your mental health.
Reduce screen time: No, we’re not your mum and won’t nag you about it, but it is a fact that too much screen time is not good for us. Increased exposure to blue-light emitted from our screens can increase irritability. Moreover, we can come across triggering content which may cause worry and eventually lead to anxiety. It is advised to set screen time restrictions on devices and engage in physical activities with family like stepping out for a meal, playing outdoor games, building something in the backyard to keep yourself busy.
Improve sleep hygiene: Sleep is the time when our body recovers. Not getting enough of it, or getting poor quality sleep can result in multiple health issues along with poor functioning of the brain through the day. Setting up a fixed sleep schedule, winding down at the same time everyday, keeping screens away an hour before you get in bed, dimming the lights are some practices to improve sleep hygiene.
Meditate: The benefits of meditation are huge. Meditation in the form of yoga, controlled breathing or just observing your surroundings can do wonders for your mental health. It can provide improved attention span, enhance focus, and most of all calm your body in just a few minutes. Prolonged meditation can help you get stronger emotionally. Find time in the day to meditate for at least 5 minutes.
Exercise: Exercising regularly may seem like generic advice but there is a reason it’s such great advice. Wait – let us explain. When you feel stressed or anxious, your body releases adrenaline in high amounts (the stress hormone). When you engage in aerobic exercise, your body signals the endocrine system to rebalance your hormones, which reduces stress, prevents mood fluctuations and keeps your mental health in check. Going for a short walk during breaks, visiting gym after work or exercising at home are just a few ways to include exercise in your daily routine.
Less anxiety, more life
You now know how important it is to deal with anxiety. Being worried or overwhelmed about something briefly, is completely normal. But if it happens more often than expected, then it may be detrimental for your overall health.
We hope the above coping strategies help you to reduce anxiety, but if these strategies fail to work, it is advised to visit a mental health practitioner for advanced treatment for anxiety.