There are lots of things in life that can make us feel anxious. Starting a new job, going into a new social situation or taking your driving test are just a few examples. Anxiety, which can feel like a mixture of uncertainty, fear and unease, is something everyone experiences. It might temporarily affect our sleep patterns, our appetite or our ability to concentrate, but usually we find ways of managing our feelings and they pass in time. Sometimes the causes of people's anxiety can be more deep seated or complex however. Their anxiety can persist even though they can't identify a particular cause for it. These anxieties can become overwhelming and have a big impact on everyday life. What causes anxiety?
Anxiety is a little bit like an alarm system that makes us alert to a possible danger or threat. When we are faced with a situation that makes us worried, nervous or fearful, hormones such as adrenaline are released into our bodies and disturbing our breathing patterns for example. The hormones put us into a state of heightened mental and physical readiness. This is sometimes called the 'fight or flight' response', because in the distant past it enabled our ancestors to fight off physical dangers or make their escape. It causes the sensations we associate with anxiety - a rapid heartbeat, sweatiness and butterflies in the stomach, for example. Triggers for anxiety
What makes us anxious, and how well we deal with our anxiety, varies from person to person. It is thought that our responses are influenced by a combination of factors, including our experiences in childhood, life events and our personalities. •Some people constantly worry about the future, or about events beyond their control. •Some fear that a distressing or traumatic situation from the past will happen again and become hyper-vigilant to try to prevent this. •Feeling anxious can be something we learn in childhood from those around us. •Stress and exhaustion in daily life can make us more prone to anxiety. •Lack of exercise, an unbalanced diet and drug use can also aggravate or contribute to anxiety. •A vicious cycle can begin where people become anxious about their symptoms of anxiety. •There is some evidence that the genes we inherit can influence our ability to manage anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety
The increase of the 'fight or flight' hormones in your body may lead to: •muscular tension or headaches
•feelings of dizziness or faintness
•rapid, shallow breathing
•increased sweating with cold or clammy skin
•increase of blood pressure
•pupils dilate and pale skin colour pale
•a pounding heart or palpitations
•nausea and sickness, or a need to go to the toilet
For some people these symptoms may escalate into panic attacks. These are the sudden and overwhelming onset of sensations such as a pounding heart, chest pains and difficulty breathing, which can be very frightening and distressing. There are a number of effective ways to manage and prevent panic attacks. In the long term, anxiety can weaken the immune system and contribute to significant health problems, including conditions linked to high blood pressure such as heart problems and stroke. Effects of anxiety on your mind and emotions
You may notice or feel:
•unable to relax
•more 'either - or' (black and white) thoughts
•unable to concentrate or make decisions
•weepy and in frequent need of reassurance
•irritable and on edge
•a frequent sense of worry
•more negative and pessimistic in your outlook
Effects of anxiety on day-to-day life
You may find that the effects of anxiety cause:
•difficulties in your relationships
•problems at work
•an inability to enjoy you leisure time
Breathing and relaxation techniques, complimentary therapies, taking regular exercise, eating well and getting enough rest can all contribute to your ability to cope with the symptoms of anxiety. Some people find exercises to promote positive thinking beneficial. For others, assertiveness training can help them feel more in control of their lives and less prone to anxiety. How can psychotherapy help?
Working with a psychotherapist provides a space for you to talk about your feelings and your experiences in a safe environment. A psychotherapist can help you to better manage your the symptoms of anxiety. They can also help you to understand what lies behind your anxiety and help you identify and change elements in your life that might contribute to it.
veryone has feelings of anxiety, nervousness, tension, and stress from time to time. Here are 5 ways to help manage them: 1.Become a relaxation expert. We all think we know how to relax. But chilling out in front of the TV or computer isn't true relaxation. (Depending on what you're watching or doing, it could even make you more tense.) The same is true for alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. They may seem to relieve anxiety or stress, but it's a false state of relaxation that's only temporary. What the body really needs is a relaxation technique — like deep breathing, tai chi, or yoga — that has a physical effect on the mind. For example, deep breathing helps to relax a major nerve that runs from the diaphragm to the brain, sending a message to the entire body to let go and loosen up. 2.Get enough sleep, nourishment, and exercise. Want your mind and body to feel peaceful and strong enough to handle life's ups and downs? Get the right amount of sleep for your needs — not too much or too little. Eat well: Choose fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains for long-term energy (instead of the short bursts that come from too much sugar or caffeine). And exercise to send oxygen to every cell in the body so your brain and body can operate at their best. 3.Connect with others. Spend time with friends or family. Organized activities are great, but just hanging out works too. Doing things with those we feel close to deepens our bonds, allowing us to feel supported and secure. And the fun and sharing that go with it allow us to feel happier and less upset about things. If you feel worried or nervous about something, talking about it with someone who listens and cares can help you feel more understood and better able to cope. You'll be reminded that everyone has these feelings sometimes. You're not alone. 4.Connect with nature. Heading out for a walk in the park or a hike in the woods can help anyone feel peaceful and grounded. (Choose somewhere you feel safe so you can relax and enjoy your surroundings.) Walking, hiking, trail biking, or snowshoeing offer the additional benefit of exercise. Invite a friend or two — or a family member — along and enjoy feeling connected to people as well. 5.Think positive. A great way to keep our minds off the worry track is to focus our thoughts on things that are good, beautiful, and positive. Allow yourself to dream, wish, and imagine the best that could happen.