What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as:

“an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”

We will all feel anxiety at some point in our lives, but other's are unfortunately diagnosed with it and have to live with it almost constantly.

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1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue at some point in our lives, including anxiety. And anxiety isn't just "Ohhh nooo, I've got a presentation to do, I'm so anxious, I think I might faint.". It is so much more than that, there are 6 distinct types of anxiety:

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder - Long lasting anxiety not specific to a situation or object
  • Panic Disorder - Quick hit of terror often followed by trembling and difficulty breathing
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - Repetitive obsessions and compulsions
  • Social Anxiety Disorder - Intense fear in and of social interactions managed with avoidance
  • Specific Phobias - Fear of a specific situation or object
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - Anxiety from a traumatic experience

Symptoms of Anxiety

There are many symptoms of anxiety and different people get different symptoms, so just because you're getting a few or getting all of them, you may still have anxiety.

  • Nervousness
  • Feelings of danger
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Hyperventilation
  • Heavy sweating
  • Trembling
  • Insomnia
  • Obsessions
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Digestive problems
  • Headaches
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Feeling faint

I could go on with a lot more symptoms, but these are the most common.

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36% of people with social anxiety experience symptoms and don't seek help for over 10 years, it is extremely important to seek help if these symptoms are interrupting your day-to-day life.

How to help your anxiety

1) Try to cut out fatty foods and eat healthier, a bad diet can negatively affect anxiety.
2) Go out and exercise, go to the gym, or stay in to exercise. Exercising calms anxiety and improves brain activity, as well as your physical fitness.
3) Grounding techniques may help to control your anxiety.
4) Some teas help with anxiety, including: Camomile, green, jasmine and peppermint.
5) Minimise your caffeine intake and drink more tea or water.
6) Seek professional help, from either a doctor or phychologist. They may be able to help find the root of where your anxiety comes from.
7) Try medication. It can help if there's a hormonal imbalance.
8) Be kinder to yourself, compliment yourself, try to boost your self-esteem, it will help social anxiety in the long-run.
9) Seek help from those your feel most comfortable and safe with. Step outside of your comfort zone with them around.
10) Learn breathing exercises to calm your nerves. Here's an example of one you can do:

  • Breathe in for 4 seconds
  • Hold your breath for 7 seconds
  • Exhale for 8 seconds

Repeat this once or twice or until you feel calmer. This causes an autonomic nervous system shift from a sympathetic state to a parasympathetic state. Using this technique can help during panic attacks, exams, presentations, dark places, etc.

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For more help check out the following sites

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/generalised-anxiety-disorder/

https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-help/anxiety-information/

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support