Anxiety is an emotion. As human beings we go through a plethora of emotions in our lives every day, ranging from love to hate, from enthusiasm to fear, from zeal to apprehension and anxiety. We feel anxious when we’re nervous, like in the case of a test or a first date. Anything new and unfamiliar arouses some form of anxiety in all of us. Nobody is completely unfazed in the face of the unknown. We deal with anxiety on an everyday basis.
Anxiety is also caused by the onset of stress or fear. It’s how the body reacts to something scary or unsettling. Frequently recurring anxiety typically increases the rush of blood to the brain and can cause the feeling of stress in the stomach. It’s important to understand the difference between anxiety levels that are normal, healthy even for normal functioning and an anxiety disorder which makes it difficult for people to function.
Causes of Anxiety
We feel anxious for a variety of reasons depending on our age, vocation, and familial setup. For example, a child may feel bouts of anxiety while going up on stage to recite a poem or while participating publicly in a team sport. Children and adolescents also go through long periods of anxiety during puberty. Moving cities, joining a new school are also situations where the child struggles mentally and emotionally; some even internalize their emotions thereby exacerbating the anxiety.
Adult anxiety is a bit more complicated although many times childhood anxieties do give rise to adulthood stress. Young adults may feel the pressure to excel in college or do well in a new job. In both scenarios earning the approval and respect of the peer-group can also be a challenging task. The changing fabric of new relationships- getting to know someone new, building trust, being let down and rejected and going through the rigmarole of trusting someone again can easily take a toll on anyone’s mental health. Coupled with the challenges of gaining financial independence and security, finding a likable job and permanent housing, adult anxiety stems from fear of confronting our toughest challenges.
Before diving into the tips to deal with anxiety, let us first understand the different types of anxiety.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
While it’s natural to feel anxious from time to time, an anxiety disorder is a severe, regularly occurring condition that we must deal with. Here are some frequently diagnosed types of anxiety disorders:
Separation anxiety disorder refers to excessive worry and fear concerning separation from home or from those to whom the individual is attached. The distress persists for at least 4 weeks to 6 months and causes clinically significant distress or impairment in overall functioning. People who frequently experience social anxiety express persistent fear or anxiety that some kind of harm may happen to those they love and resistance being away from them for too long. In addition to these, there is reluctance from an individual to go away from their attachment figures. This form of anxiety is most prevalent between young kids and their mothers, although adults go through this as well. Adults with separation anxiety may experience nightmares and physical symptoms of distress. Separation anxiety in adults can be caused by a major stressor or loss such as the death of loved ones or significant life changes such as divorce or moving away/relocating etc.
A person with a social anxiety disorder has an intense fear or anxiety about social situations and avoids social interactions. People with this disorder are fearful and anxious about being negatively judged and evaluated by others. People can experience such symptoms of social anxiety – feeling anxious about being in most or all kinds of social situations such as meeting new people, going to work, job interviews or talking to shopkeepers. Also, doing everyday tasks eating or drinking in front of others or writing or shaking hands with others or using public restrooms. People with social anxiety constantly worry about being judged as anxious, weak, crazy, stupid, boring or unlikeable.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
This is a long-term condition of chronic anxiety, incessant worry, and nervousness that occurs in people on a recurring basis with or without reason. You can picture some with a generalized anxiety disorder as someone who is always worried about something. Minor uneventful events such as weather change or a minor altercation with a loved one can trigger this form of anxiety, which stays constant even while the causes for the same keep changing.
A panic attack is a sudden onset of intense fear or discomfort often associated with feelings of impending doom. Symptoms of panic attack could be shortness of breath, sweating, trembling, palpitations, chest pain or discomfort, a feeling of choking, fear of “going crazy” or losing control, fear of dying, or nausea. The onset of an anxiety disorder can be traced back to an instance of trauma or deep-seated fear that manifests itself in the form of a short episode of nauseating fear and worry.
A person with an obsessive-compulsive disorder is a prisoner of patterns. They tend to have the same loop of repetitive thoughts and actions. They tend to conduct their life in a near mirror-like image of the existing routine. They are sticklers for continuity and cannot break or disrupt the pattern without risking bouts of anxiety. Repetition of so-called rituals and patterns helps keep them sane.
Now that we have an idea of the different types of anxiety disorders that exist, let’s get into some tips to deal with anxiety.
Tips to deal with anxiety
Anxiety is the opposite of inner peace. Many of us look for ways or tips to reduce anxiety and better manage our emotions. Here are some tips to help you deal with anxiety:
Understand your anxiety and triggers
Keep a journal of your feelings and emotions and when you’re feeling most anxious. Are you especially prone in the morning or evening? Does speaking to a certain person trigger your insecurities? If you’re wondering how to cope with anxiety at work, try to focus on what’s unsettling in your office environment. Are you always behind deadlines? Are you surrounded by people who bring you down? Zero-in on the problem and confront it head-on.
Practice relaxation techniques
A great way to reduce stress naturally is through practicing tried and tested relaxation techniques. No matter where you are or how caught up you are, take five minutes to try deep-breathing exercises, soothing chants or just a solo walk in the fresh air. Find which method calms you down and do it often. Sometimes, even putting your phone off for 15 minutes can prove therapeutic.
Identify activities that help you feel calm/relaxed
Once you’ve identified what your stressors are, focus on things that make you feel the opposite. Identify the tasks and activities that you enjoy. Listen to soothing music, take long, calming baths or play video-games. You’ll eventually find your release.
Identify thoughts that make you anxious & challenge/reframe them.
The mind is the seat of consciousness and hence, of all anxiety. Free your mind from falling into the negative spiral. Channel your thoughts in a positive direction and gain control of your anxieties. You can try reframing thought exercise on Wysa for free, always.
Exercising regularly or playing a sport you love can help the body release endorphins that make you feel happy and release pent-up stress and anxiety. Sport can also distract your focus from something you’ve been obsessing about so that you can revisit a problem from a fresh perspective.
Get sufficient sleep (7-8 hours)
Lack of sleep can aggravate your sense of anxiety and self-doubt. It can make underlying issues seem more exaggerated than they really are. Take the time to catch up on sleep, even if it’s possible only on weekends and you’ll find yourself less anxious and nervous in general. If you are experiencing trouble sleeping, you can listen to our bedtime stories on our sleep app
Seek professional help
If you’re constantly experiencing anxiety episodes, consider speaking to an anxiety therapist online or going for in-person counseling. Speaking to someone about our problems and voicing our fears helps release anxieties and bottled-up stress. There are mental health apps helping their users by providing access to online therapists and mental health support in the click on a button. We are humbled that Wysa is considered to be among the best digital mental health apps and is known for its effectiveness, anonymity, data privacy, and affordable plans. You can schedule a session with our therapists online and start talking immediately.
Addressing the cause of anxiety is the first step towards overcoming it. If you’re looking for ways to get rid of anxiety naturally, consider making a note of all your triggers that make you anxious from time to time. Identify these issues and tackle them wisely with the help of an informal or professional support system.
The human race is anxious because we are afraid. Some of us worry about our jobs, our health, relationships with our peers and well-being of our family and friends. Many incidents such as breakdowns in relationships, losing a job, moving to a new city and coping with the loss of close friends or parents can trigger episodes of anxiety.
Identify the cause at the core of your anxiety and work towards resolving those underlying issues. If you’re anxious about meeting deadlines at work, manage your time better. If you’re anxious about making new friends in a city, take the time to sign up for activities where you can find like-minded people. If you’re anxious about your relationship, communicate with your partner and spend quality time with them.
The anxiety and worry are associated with three (or more) of the following six symptoms (with at least some symptoms having been present for more days than not for the past 6 months);
1. Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge.
2. Being easily fatigued.
3. Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank.
5. Muscle tension.
6. Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep).
A healthier lifestyle is the perfect cure for anxiety. Lead a wholesome life by giving equal importance to work and family. Split your time wisely and share your feelings with those around you, even if it seems scary. Anxiety is nothing but the build-up of worry over time, so don’t let small issues snowball into big problems?
Anxiety is a necessary part of our life. We feel nervous when we’re facing something for the first time. In some cases, anxiety is a good thing because it keeps us on our toes and helps us stay focused. An anxiety disorder, on the other hand, can disrupt life as usual. Other than causing a sense of restlessness and disorientation, anxiety can impact our performance at work, the ability to focus on the task at hand and make us seem cranky around people we care about. Hence it is important to learn how to manage and deal with anxiety.
Practicing yoga and meditation techniques can bring about a sense of calm to your state of being. Inculcating good habits such as regular exercise, clean eating and spending quality time with friends can help in reducing anxiety.
Yes. We can over cure anxiety by leading a stress-free balanced life and by expressing our thoughts and emotions in a constructive way.
No, anxiety cannot cause death.