What is anxiety?
Anxiety is the emotion we feel when we are worried or afraid and is a completely natural human response to feeling under threat. It’s normal for people to feel anxious during times of stress but it can become a mental health issue if it doesn’t go away and begins to impact the way in which you lead your life. Anxiety is a very common disorder with 14.2 million cases recorded in 2019 in the UK alone so if you feel you may have anxiety it’s important to realise you are not alone.
How do you know if you have anxiety?
Anxiety can present itself in a number of different ways and appear different to each person who experiences it. Some of the most recognisable symptoms of anxiety are listed below but it’s important to remember that you may experience other symptoms that are not listed and the best way to find out if what you are feeling could be anxiety is to speak to a health professional.
Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety:
- Having panic attacks
- Feeling unable to sit still
- Having accelerated breathing
- Having problems falling and staying asleep
- Feeling sick or nauseous
- Having an irregular or faster than normal heartbeat
- Feeling nervous and unable to relax
- Feeling a sense of dread and forboding
- Fearing that other people are watching or looking at you
- Worrying about everything and anything including anxiety itself
- Thinking that other people are angry and upset with you and requiring reassurance
- Overthinking a situation (Rumination)
- Feeling disconnected from your body or the world around you
How can you help yourself?
Living with anxiety can be very hard but there are things that you can do to help yourself cope.
- Talk to someone
The number one thing you should do if you feel you may be suffering from anxiety is to talk to someone, be it a friend or family member, doctor or trusted colleague.
- Try breathing exercises
Another common self-help technique for feeling anxious is to practice breathing exercises and mindfulness. This can help to focus the mind on the here and now and stop it from wandering to anxious situations.
- Stay in shape
Diet and exercise can have a surprising impact on our mental health so it’s important to try and eat healthily and do a little exercise, even if it is just walking a short distance each day. Exercise has been referred to as ‘meditation in motion’ and can be a great way to help calm a busy mind.
- Try natural remedies
Many people choose to try a form of natural anxiety treatment such as essential oils, before considering medication or other forms of therapy.
- Access medical treatment
For some people, their anxiety is best controlled with a combination of therapies and medications. Talking therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and group therapy can help anxiety sufferers to get their worries off their chests and to learn coping techniques they can apply at home. Medication can also be a very effective way to manage severe anxiety symptoms though it shouldn’t be relied upon alone.