It’s completely okay to feel anxious from time-to-time. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and often a healthy reaction to emotion. It can happen in children and adults.
In most cases, feelings of anxiety come and go, only lasting a short time. Feelings of anxiety can last from a few minutes to a couple of days. Unfortunately, in other cases, the anxiety can last much longer. It can go on for weeks, months, or even years.
What is anxiety?
Impending dread senses that your brain tries to rationalize by coming up with plausible-sounding excuses as to why you need to worry (when you don’t). It can also be described as a feeling that causes your body to go on high alert and to be hypersensitive to possible dangers and in turn, it activates your fight or flight response.
Anxiety symptoms manifest themselves differently from individual to individual. A good rule of thumb is to keep in mind of how your body reacts to anxiety. If you have experienced anxiety previously, it is important to take note of the clues that your body is giving you about your anxiety levels to help be in control of what you are feeling.
This is a list including the most common anxiety symptoms:
- nervousness, restlessness, or being tense
- feeling in danger
- experiencing dread or panic
- rapid heart rate and/or rapid breathing, or hyperventilation
- increased sweating
- difficulty concentrating or obsessive patterns
- digestive problems
Can anxiety become a disorder?
The short answer is yes. If your anxiety lingers and persists to stay in your life until it begins to interfere with your daily activities such as family life, work, school. Thankfully, anxiety is a common, treatable, and most importantly manageable condition.
How to cope with anxiety with the help of strategies and tools
If you are feeling overwhelmed, try these tricks:
- Get enough sleep each night.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine intake, especially before sleep.
- Take deep breaths and slowly count to ten. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which is responsible for activities that occur when our body is at rest.
- Talk to someone that can and wants to listen, such as a friend or close family member.
- See a therapist who is trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Understand the difference between hypothetical worry vs practical worry
How to react during a panic attack
A panic attack is the result of an overload of anxiety, it is a sudden onset of fear or distress that peaks in within a handful of minutes. There are five steps that you can take to try to manage a panic attack “AWARE”.
Acknowledge & Accept:
Take a moment to acknowledge and accept: that you are not in real danger and accept your feelings as you would a minor headache. It’s a passing feeling and you will feel better.
If you have the urge to leave the situation, give yourself a moment to process what you are feeling. Do not rob yourself of the option to leave but do try to keep yourself in control. Remember to count to ten before taking any decision as panic attacks often rob us of our ability to think rationally.
Actions (to make myself more comfortable):
Every panic attack ends no matter what you do. Even when you have the thoughts that it will last forever, it still ends because everything ends. Your job is to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible.
Sometimes as soon as you end a panic attack, you can enter another one. In the case of a relapse, go through the steps again as often as necessary. Just take it from the top of the list again. You can make it through a second panic attack, just like you have through your first one.
This step simply is here to remind you that the panic attack does eventually end, even if it comes in cycles or if you relapse at a later date. Do not pressure yourself to accelerate the panic attack or to suppress it, your only concern should be to feel comfortable and to “wait it out”.