Posted on March 29, 2018 -
Anxiety is a state of worry, apprehension, and fear. It is the body’s response to stress and uncertainty, whether an imminent danger or something perceived only in the mind as potentially harmful. In today’s world, fear isn’t provoked only in response to fight or flight-inducing situations such as a bear running after you (although on Vancouver Island that is an actual possibility…). Fear can be triggered by anything from worrying about an academic test to whether or not we’re accepted socially to walking home from work alone.
Anxiety can be experienced acutely, such as while delivering a speech, or it can be experienced more long-term, during day-to-day activities. In this case, when anxiety seeps into someone’s general thinking, feeling, and being, it can make even the simplest tasks feel incredibly overwhelming and unmanageable. When anxiety takes over someone’s life like this, it can be classified as an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are a type of mental and emotional illness and include phobias, panic disorders, and social anxiety disorders.
Anxiety takes many forms and they can vary from individual to individual. Some of the known physical and mental symptoms of anxiety are:
A major problem with any level of anxiety is that it can often lead one to develop harmful coping mechanisms to suppress the uncomfortable feelings. Smoking, overeating, drug use, and alcoholism, are all examples of unhealthy coping strategies used to manage anxiety. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of anxiety, it’s important first to recognize it. Awareness is key. Once you become aware of what’s going on in your life or any mental patterns that are causing your body stress, you can start to take proactive steps towards minimizing anxiety and finding healthy coping patterns.
Effective coping strategies will vary from person to person, and you’ll need to get in touch with yourself to figure out what works best for you. Here are a couple of ideas about how to manage and alleviate anxiety:
If someone close to you is experiencing anxiety and you aren’t sure what to do about it, let them know that you’re there for them. You might not understand exactly what they’re going through, but by being a good listener who is patient and kind you are providing them with a safe space, and that might be all they need to be able to see a way out of the overwhelming feelings. We hope this overview of anxiety and anti-stress tools for recovery has equipped you with the knowledge to create healthy behaviours that lead to a more empowered, calm, and happy life.