Frequently Asked Anxiety And Stress Questions
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is any feeling of worry, unease, or eagerness about something. All of us have experienced anxiety at some point in our lives. The truth is, anxiety is a normal reaction that is triggered when you feel threatened, faced with stressful situations, or under pressure. Feelings of anxiety will often surface when faced with an interview, an exam, a driving test, or even a blind date.
However, if your anxious feelings are excessive to the point of disrupting your daily life, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Certain things can trigger anxiety such as a fear of heights or enclosed spaces. If you know what triggers your anxiety, you will be better able to manage it. If you are unable to pinpoint what triggers your anxious feelings, it may only increase your anxiety. You can easily resolve this problem by keeping a journal and making a note of every time you experience an anxiety attack. Doing this will enable you to see a pattern and help you recognize what is setting it off.
You can experience both physical and psychological symptoms when you suffer from anxiety. In the next section we will be discussing some of the symptoms of anxiety…
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
If you’re prone to anxiety, the process of sorting out the symptoms can be almost as stressful as experiencing them. Fortunately, there is a simpler approach to identifying and dealing with anxiety symptoms. To help with diagnosis and treatment, anxiety is typically broken down into a number of disorders, each of which has a fairly specific symptom list.
Here is a list of the most common disorders and their accompanying symptoms, with the list arranged from the disorders with the most specific symptoms to those with the most general:
- Panic Attacks. The most prominent symptoms of this kind of anxiety are fear, apprehension and feeling overwhelmed. The major physical symptom is shortness of breath combined with a feeling of choking, along with either heart palpitations or even chest pain during a severe attack.
- Phobias. There are three different kinds of phobias that include anxiety-related symptoms as a ajor component of the disorder: social phobias, agoraphobia (which stems from feelings of being trapped or helpless), and phobias associated with specific objects or situations. The major symptom of all of these phobias is intense fear, which then translates into a variety of physical symptoms (sweating, nervousness, etc.).
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The anxiety symptoms for PTSD are often specifically related to the incident that triggers the anxiety. Military personnel, for instance, often experience symptoms in the area of the body affected by a combat experience, along with fear-related symptoms, tremors, sweating, headaches and other so-called psychological symptoms. Acute stress disorder is related to PTSD, with the anxiety symptoms for this disorder related to a very traumatic event. There are normal stresses in daily life such as; financial, relationship issues, family problems, bills, etc.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). While there are ancillary symptoms, the major symptom of OCD usually occurs in the form of recurring thoughts or impulses that can’t be stopped, but are usually alleviated to at least some degree by using repeated actions to cope with the anxiety.
- General Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This is the most common anxiety disorder with the longest list of symptoms — it can literally include almost every symptom listed. The important thing to remember about these symptoms is that many of them can also occur as a result of normal stresses in daily life such as; financial, relationship issues, family problems, etc.
The tipping point that turns them into a disorder is their intensity, especially when that intensity is high enough to impair everyday function and quality of life.
How can I deal with anxiety?
Most of us get nervous and self-conscious in social situations. We may be afraid to speak in public, or to enter a party without knowing anyone, but it is for the most part manageable. However, some of us suffer very specific and real physical and emotional reactions to social situations, and they can be quite debilitating and embarrassing. If you wanted to know how to deal with social anxiety, we have listed some tips below…
Remain in touch with other people – even though social situations make you anxious, if you fully retreat the situation may get worse. Find activities you like to share with other people such as volunteering, joining a book club or gardening. If you have common interests with others you may find it easier to strike up a conversation and set the foundation for a friendship.
Rehearse what you will say – this may sound a little silly, but playing out in your mind what you may say in social situations can actually reduce your anxiety about it. Having a couple of topics on your mind that you can reach for in case of need is always a good idea. Current events including sports and pop culture can be helpful when you interact with others. If you feel comfortable, you should even try out your conversations with a friend or family member and have them help you anticipate how the interaction could go.
Be your greatest cheerleader – don’t let your social anxiety get the best of you. Remind yourself that you are a wonderful person and that there isn’t a person in the world without weaknesses. Try to keep things in perspective, and don’t let yourself believe that a moment of awkwardness is the end of a relationship or conversation. Try to keep things in perspective and realize that suffering from social anxiety is okay, but you are strong enough to work through it.
If you feel like your social anxiety is well beyond your control, make sure to seek the advice of a professional. There are many highly qualified individuals who can help you work through it and provide you with tips and pointers to alleviate the situation.
What are some relaxation techniques for anxiety and stress relief?
Stress, stress, stress – it is everywhere and often creeps in from the least expected places. Although we all try to keep it at bay, sometimes it spirals out of our control and threatens to upset our very core. The problem when that happens is not only about keeping our mind in order, but about all the other undesirable consequences stress may generate. Heart disease, migraines, gastrointestinal issues and a myriad of other health issues can come about as a result of stress. Below, we have described a couple of relaxation techniques that may help you reduce the amount of stress in your life and body. Relaxation techniques along with a helpful network of support should help you cope with stress on a daily basis.
Meditation – meditation involves clearing your mind from the noise of your life and allowing it to rest for a few minutes. Some people are able to achieve this by listening to relaxing music or by repeating a personal mantra. When you meditate you will be able to focus on one thing only and not on everything that is going on around you. Some people choose to concentrate on their breathing, others on a specific rhythm of music. Essentially, you turn off your mind to everything except your one focus. Meditation requires practice in order to reap its full benefits. Do not expect to be an expert on the first day you meditate, rather allow yourself the time to learn how to do it and find the right focus that will help you clear your mind and reduce your stress level.
Yoga – a personal favorite, yoga is a great way of keeping stress away. It involves not only your mind, but also your body, which I love. It essentially requires you to control mind and body to achieve each of the traditional yoga poses, all while working on your balance (mental and physical) and flexibility. You can practice it in a studio or at home and it is highly portable. All you need is a few minutes and some space to let your body open up to tranquility and quiet your mind for a few minutes. If you are just starting make sure to consult with someone who can show you the right way to hold the positions, otherwise you may risk getting injured.
These are only two ways in which you can relax your mind and body to help manage the stressful things that happen in your life. Some people choose therapy, breathing and even swimming as a relaxation technique. What is most important is to realize that we are all different and there isn’t one right thing for everyone, it will depend on your personality and needs. However, we all have stress in our lives and how we handle it becomes our choice.
By David McDonough