How are you feeling right now?
Anxiety is a normal part of life. Unlike stress which comes and goes according to what is causing us concern at any stage, anxiety is something which persists whether or not the cause is clear to the sufferer. What is important is to acknowledge that anxiety is normal and that it exists due to a range of bodily functions. We often refer to the “fight or flight” effect and this is what happens when we have a boost of adrenaline which increases our heart rate and increases the amount of oxygen to our limbs, thus equipping us to fight or flight.
Some people have an identifiable cause for their anxiety such as a traumatic incident in their life, the most often quoted being: moving house, getting divorced, dealing with the death of a loved one or going into hospital for major surgery. However, some have no identifiable cause for their anxiety and this causes distress. There are many ways of describing this and I will use the balloon inside the head example. Whatever adds to our stress levels fills up the balloon with more air until it reaches the point where it is about to explode. We need to reduce the air inside the balloon and this is achieved by some form of exercise, relaxation technique be it reading, listening to music or meditation or interacting with friends and family. These positive steps actually manage your anxiety and thus reduce your stress levels.
What are some of the types of anxiety we can feel?
- Fear of Flying
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Compulsive Skin Picking
What are the symptoms of anxiety? They can be physical, psychological or behavioural and include:
- Increased heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- An urge to go to the toilet
- A dry mouth
- Breaking into a sweat
- Thinking everyone is looking at you
- Feeling you are about to have a heart attack or, worse, die
- A sensation of being detached from reality
- Avoiding a situation which is perceived as threatening or unpleasant
What can we do to combat the effects of anxiety?
We may access some form of therapy, whether that involves speaking individually to a professional, joining a self-help group, having some treatment such as acupuncture, cognitive behavioural therapy, hypnotherapy, meditating or yoga or using the internet to find support.
One organisation to contact is Anxiety UK. They can provide help and support on a range of anxieties and phobias. Most importantly, this charity is run by people who themselves have direct experience of stress, anxiety and depression and are supported by healthcare professionals.
Their Infoline number is: 03444 775 774 and their e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Another excellent organisation is Shout. If you are worried, stressed or anxious about anything at all, they provide a unique service insofar as it does not involve having to physically speak with someone if this is an inhibitor. Shout relies on contact by text which puts you in touch with a trained Crisis Volunteer who will then chat to you using trained techniques. The service is designed to help individuals to think more clearly for themselves and take the next steps to feeling better.
Shout is modelled on an American organisation which identified how using digital platforms and tools has the potential to offer support services to individuals struggling with their mental health. It offers help on a 24/7 basis and can be accessed on all mobile networks, free of charge, by simply texting: SHOUT to 85258