Mental tensions and worries are certainly a part and parcel of our lives. Little things that happen in our day-to-day events can trouble us and be a cause of our stress, and such stress is oftentimes manageable. Some much more important events that happen parallelly to such small events, such as financial problems, work-related issues, and familial troubles, can also be a cause of worry. Such stress can allow us to function optimally in certain problematic situations, drive us to make the right decisions and ultimately energize us to make the effort required to be successful in life.
However there is a thin line between manageable, good worries and unmanageable, bad worries. The unmanageable kind can prove to be detrimental to anyone’s mental and physical wellbeing.
What is Anxiety?
When the feeling of worries, fears, and apprehension rises to a peak and makes us have disturbing and intrusive thoughts, it is called anxiety. It causes us to feel out-of-control, disrupts some of our physical mechanisms and negatively affects all dimensions of our lives.
Dealing with anxiety and learning how to overcome anxiety in our day to day lives can help a great deal to keep the negative effects at bay. There are some lifestyle changes that one can take up, and little habits that one can incorporate into one’s routine to help provide some anxiety relief. Once these habits become deeply ingrained in the ways we react and respond to anxiety-provoking situations, we become much more grounded, and stable in our minds and as a result the distress caused by anxiety is reduced to a considerable extent.
However, if you constantly experience distress, anxiety, listlessness and helplessness, you might be suffering from an anxiety disorder. While there is no “anxiety cure”, anxiety disorders, just like any other mental health disorder, can be managed with the help of counselling and therapy.
Signs of Anxiety
Anxiety disorders are some of the most common psychological disorders. There are some symptoms that overlap across all anxiety disorders, such as:
- Constant restlessness and worries
- Inability to relax
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Trembling and shakiness
- Intense fears (either vague or associated with objects, animals, people, etc.)
- Diarrhea, nausea, and motor tension
- Sleeplessness; not being able to get sleep at night due to an overly active mind
- Intrusive thoughts
- Avoidance behaviour
- Losing focus while doing basic daily activities
- Motor tension (muscle tightness, stiffness)
- Feeling drained, weak, or tired.
Causes of Anxiety
Anxiety can be caused by an inter-mix of several factors or a relatively significant presence of one specific factor. They are but not limited to:
- Biological Factors:
The affected person might have a higher concentration of cortisol in their system (which is also known as the stress hormone). General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is also known to be associated with low activity of a particular neurotransmitter known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). There is definitely some sound evidence that indicates such biochemical and other genetic factors’ involvement in anxiety disorders.
- Having a Predisposition/Diathesis:
Anxiety disorders can develop if your predisposition or diathesis to the disorder is set off by extreme stressors in your environment, or difficulties in life. Many of us carry such vulnerabilities to develop certain disorders. This is based on the diathesis-stress model which is applied to many other mental disorders.
- Medical Complications:
Anxiety can often be linked to an underlying physical health issue. It can be one of the first indications of a medical illness. A few examples of these diseases are heart disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, respiratory ailments, and drug abuse.
- Life Events:
A lot of stress may have accumulated due to daily hassles. This can be linked to lifestyle problems. At other times, people are going through many serious life events that trigger anxiety, such as death of a close relative or friend, break up or divorce, unemployment, financial problems, etc. Anxiety is also significantly contributed by early family of origin experiences.
How to Overcome Anxiety: 5 Methods that Help in Dealing with Anxiety
If you are thinking of something to supplement your treatment plan for anxiety or of something to incorporate into your life to reduce anxiety related symptoms, the following tips are definitely going to help you build a better understanding of yourself and lead a calmer, healthier life. They are as follows:
1. The 5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique
This coping technique for anxiety enables people to find focus in the present moment and it helps reduce the fixation on thoughts that cause anxiety by using the 5 main senses. These senses are; sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste. One begins to use this technique by breathing deeply and slowly.
Step 5: Scan your surroundings to look for any 5 things that you can see. For example, a chair, a sweatshirt, a mirror, a windchime and a carpet.
Step 4: Notice four things around you that you can touch. For example, your hair, your nose, the floor under your feet.
Step 3: Notice and pay attention to the three things that you can hear. For example, music, people talking in the distance, and the sound of your breath.
Step 2: Try to find two things that you can smell. For instance, the scent of something baking in the kitchen, and the deo that you used in the morning.
Step 1: Notice one thing that you can taste. For example, coffee.
2. Limit Caffeine And Alcohol Intake
Caffeine, alcohol, and other liquids like energy drinks or sugary beverages tend to stimulate the nervous system in ways that can increase the levels of anxiety and lead to more frequent instances of panic attacks. A person suffering from an anxiety disorder, or higher levels of stress and anxiety in general should limit the usage of caffeine and alcohol. Instead, you can replace such substances with healthy alternatives which supplement the 4. diet. A balanced diet is an important contributor to both mental and physical fitness. Consuming supplements or foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, magnesium, among other nutrients can help considerably reduce anxiety levels and help you in dealing with anxiety.
3. Do Regular Exercise and Yoga
Time and again, studies have proven the positive effects of doing regular exercise and yoga on mental and physical ailments. Moreover, this practice strengthens us in our mind and body to lead a happier and healthier life. Needless to say, many researches have confirmed that yoga and exercise provide both immediate and long term anxiety relief. They help in dealing with anxiety by stimulating chemicals in the brain called endorphins. Endorphins induce the feeling of calmness and a positive mood according to several studies.
4. Deep Breathing and Meditation
Breathing and meditation exercises help successfully and efficiently manage stress and anxiety when practiced regularly. Deep breathing is known to increase the supply of oxygen to the brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which promotes a state of relaxation and calmness. Breathing exercises and meditation often go hand in hand as many meditation techniques require one to focus on one’s breath.
5. Find Your Trigger and Question Your Thought Pattern
Find out what kind of situations that you find yourself feeling anxious in. Why do you feel anxious about these situations? What kind of thoughts do you have with regard to such situations? Such self reflection can be done when you sit with yourself in silence and possibly write into a journal all your thoughts and feelings. Then, try to change the way you think about things from a negative to a positive and/or a neutral, rational way. Try to change your perspective. It is proven that people with an optimistic mindset tend to be more successful in life.
How Incontact’s Counselling And Therapy Can Help
Our therapists and counsellors help you tackle and manage your anxiety much effectively as we believe in designing your intervention programme perfectly suited to you and your unique individuality. Using a heterogenous approach, we involve several kinds of concepts and theories to help you achieve your mental health goals and make each session count.
We are a team of reputable, licensed counsellors and therapists who attune to your specific needs and learning styles and help bring in permanent, long-term results that make an ever-changing impact on your life. Trained in forming sound relationships, we act as enablers in your journey of self-development and empower you to become your best self.
Frequently Asked Questions on Anxiety
Q. What are the five most common anxiety disorders?
Generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and social phobia (social anxiety disorder).
Q. What are the statistics for anxiety disorders in Singapore?
In Singapore, 10% of the population suffers from anxiety and depressive disorders. Out of this, 0.9% have generalized anxiety disorder, and 3% have OCD.
Q. What percentage of the world suffers from anxiety?
In 2017, an estimate was made that the largest number of people in the world have anxiety disorder. Approximately around 4% of the global population suffers from anxiety disorders.