To begin my series on anxiety, let's start by finding out exactly what it is, the contributing causes, and a few immediate suggestions you can try for lessening the severity of symptoms you experience.
Here's the thing, everyone at some point or another will experience anxious feelings. It is, after all, an emotion. We often feel nervous before a school test, public speaking or an interview. These are common experiences that trigger anxious feelings.
Anxiety disorders, however, are different. These are marked by excessive fear and worry on a daily basis which ultimately greatly impacts the individual in many aspects of their lives. There is a constant feeling of being distressed and overwhelmed.
To gain a better understanding of the symptoms anxiety disorders share, here's a list:
- Panic, fear, and worry
- Sleep problems
- Cold, numb, sweaty or tingling sensations in hands and/or feet
- Rapid or shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Dry mouth
- Nausea, diarrhea or constipation
- Tense muscles and physical aches
- Inability to stay clam and physically still
The causes of anxiety disorders are not entirely clear, however, research indicates a combination of factors which include biology, environmental stress and brain abnormalities.
So what can you do to manage symptoms of anxiety? One of the most important things I can emphasize is that we must take care of our basic needs. When we have an anxiety disorder, we tend to neglect ourselves because we feel like we've lost control. Taking care of ourselves, self-care, is essential in lessening the frequency and severity of symptoms you experience.
Here are some basic self-care strategies to get you started.
First, cut back on caffeine. Caffeine is a psychoactive substance that can wreak havoc on anxiety symptoms. Coffee, tea, energy drinks, pop and chocolate have a stimulant effect. Stimulants provide temporary energy before a crash and often make anxiety worse.
Create a sleep routine. Limit screen-time before bed. Unwind with a soothing decaffeinated tea or relax with a calming bath. Get into the habit of going to bed at the same time each day. Before sleep, try activities such as listening to calming music, reading or journaling.
Lastly, get active. Even just 20 minutes of walking a day can improve symptoms. If you want to ramp it up, try brisk activities such as biking, running, hiking, or a team sport. Alternatively, to ease tension, try stretching each day or incorporate yoga into your routine.
Come back next month to discuss how talk therapy can help with anxiety. I'll introduce the most effective therapeutic approaches and give you coping strategies to try right away!
Playing as an elite athlete, Alana suffered an injury that would derail her dreams. Her healing process propelled her to help others. Alana has years of experience helping clients with their mind-body health. Alana is a registered psychotherapist with Lindsay Tsang & Associates. Read more about her HERE.