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An Understanding of Anxiety

Lorna is a qualified therapist and writer with an interest in alternative and holistic approaches to health.

If I were to describe anxiety...

...it is like being followed by a voice which knows all of your insecurities and uses them against you at your most unsuspecting moments. The physical effects of anxiety are unique to each person, resulting in feelings which are uncontrollable and frustratingly impossible to try and manage. If you are having an anxiety attack, you will be experiencing at least four of the following effects which are symptoms of the flight or fight response:

  • Faster breathing
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Unable to sit still
  • Thumping heart
  • Heart palpitations
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Feeling detached from yourself
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What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is defined as the response to a threat - real or imagined. There are two main forms that anxiety can present as; these are Acute and Chronic. Acute Anxiety is fed by the fear of what is happening around you while Chronic Anxiety is fed by the fear of what might possibly happen.

Acute anxiety is a naturally occurring alarm in your body – a survival mechanism. This type of anxiety reminds us to act with caution in dangerous situations, for example when crossing a busy highway or walking along a dark street alone at night. This type of anxiety is normal and healthy, signalling our senses to stay on high alert when there is a potential threat nearby.

Chronic anxiety, most commonly referred to as Generalised Anxiety Disorder, is brought about by a series of ‘what ifs’ and the anticipation that there will be a bad outcome no matter the situation. It is excessive and steady, intrusive and debilitating.

There can be any number of triggers for Chronic Anxiety in a person’s life, generally arising first during childhood. Research has even shown that children brought up by family members who struggle with Chronic Anxiety may create a phenomenon where it is transmitted and absorbed without thinking. As kids we learn how to deal with situations by watching others; if we learn to become anxious when thinking about what might be, this may then pave the way for how we react as adults.

“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” – Charles Spurgeon

Coping Strategies

Most people who suffer with anxiety will, over time, form their own tactics for managing and coping with it. I am going to list those that I feel are the most beneficial, along with a few more tried and trusted ones.

Conversations with Yourself

When you are experiencing intense anxiety or – in extreme cases – a panic attack, tell yourself that what you are feeling are normal panic symptoms. Then describe them to yourself. This reminds you to acknowledge the symptoms, bring awareness to them and in turn, let them go. Never judge yourself for feeling anxious; instead try to understand that it is a nervous system response that will soon pass.

Laughter

This, for me is a great self-soother. Whether it’s watching a favourite comedy show or having a good laugh with family and friends, it does wonders for dispelling those anxious thoughts. The act of distracting yourself from what is happening in your own mind and replacing those negative thoughts with positive laughter can be a great tool in managing your anxiety.

Colour Therapy

This is one of my favourites and allows me to really zone out and focus on the colouring in. Why does it work so well? It’s simply a way of focusing the brain on something external, similar to meditation, making you calmer, mentally clearer and more relaxed. One I am using at the moment is Colour Yourself Calm by Paul Heussenstamm. Another go-to of mine is a jigsaw puzzle – just being able to focus your mind in a calmer manner not only relieves stress but, for me, actually triggers memories of happy childhood days spent doing these activities.

Believe in You

Anxiety can result in a loss of confidence and self-esteem. In order to rebuild your confidence it is crucial to meet and overcome any experience that may arise, pushing yourself in particular with the most difficult and overwhelming ones. To help with this, think of an extremely difficult task you thought you could never do – something seemingly impossible - but that you achieved. Focus on how you were able to get through that situation and trust yourself to be able to do it again. Having the courage to look life and its inevitable difficulties in the eye will render those ‘what ifs’ of tomorrow obsolete.

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Cut Down on Caffeine

Admittedly this is one I personally struggle with as coffee and I are all but joined at the hip, however it is worth noting that drinks or foods with caffeine can make you more nervous. I am determined to cut down my own intake as part of my own self-healing plan so I encourage you to join me if coffee is one of your own downfalls. Wish me luck!

Get Your Health in Check

If your physical health isn’t in tip-top shape then it goes without saying that your mental health will bear the brunt. If you feel like you’ve tried everything to alleviate your anxiety and nothing’s making a dent then a trip down to your local GP to check hormone and blood levels might be a good idea. Sometimes that one thing you’re lacking in, or have too much of can be the missing piece in your mental health puzzle.

Relaxing

This for me is a must and crucial for my own mental state, especially after a long and stressful day. Set the scene and take the time to really pamper yourself. Have a nice warm bath or enjoy a spot of yoga. I also enjoy meditation, imagining myself on a beautiful secluded beach with only the sound of lapping waves on the shore, concentrating solely on my own breathing and the scene in my mind. With practice this can be a wonderful way to end the day, preparing you for a good night’s sleep.

Breathing Techniques

Underrated but very necessary is learning to breathe properly and with intention, particularly useful during a panic attack or anxious moment. Try diaphragmatic breathing where your tummy expands in and out instead of your chest going up and down. If you find it tricky, try imagining that there is a balloon in your stomach which your breath inflate and deflates. Take longer to exhale than inhale – inhaling for three seconds and exhaling for four.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

This is a type of talking therapy which can greatly alleviate the stress and symptoms of anxiety. In simple terms, it focuses on changing those negative thoughts which are causing the anxiety into positive thoughts. However, it does take practice and, for those who suffer with particularly bad anxiety, I highly recommend seeking professional help where the therapist will supervise and guide you through the recommended treatment plan.

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It is worth reminding yourself that, if you do feel a panic attack coming on, you are going to be okay and it will pass eventually. Feelings of anxiety can be painful and very debilitating however using the above techniques will give you the strength to go with the moment and remember that it won’t last forever.

As a therapist, I always encourage those who suffer with mental health issues to seek professional help, however at-home techniques can be a beneficial and crucial part of everyday management.

© 2018 Lorna Lamon

Comments

Lorna Lamon (author) on November 25, 2020:

Lovely to see you Chitrangada and thank you for your kind comments. I have decided to put my writing on hold for now as I am working double shifts at the Clinic. I have also decided not to continue writing for HubPages due to the changes and lack of transparency. However, it has been a pleasure to have known you, and I wish you continued success in your writing endeavours. Take care and best wishes my friend.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on November 25, 2020:

Excellent article about the symptoms of anxiety and how we should deal with it.

We do encounter anxiety on many days, and obviously it’s not good for our health. Sooner we learn to deal with it, the better. Usually I prefer to take a nature walk, or listen to soulful music to divert my mind.

You have covered the topic in detail and I am sure it would help many people suffering from anxiety.

Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful day.

Lorna Lamon (author) on November 19, 2020:

Thank you for your kind comments and interest Devika. I agree anxiety if untreated can result in depression which tends to spiral. I'm glad you found the topic useful.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 19, 2020:

Hi Denise it is a great understanding of Anxiety. Your tips are valuable and so worth the read. Anxiety is not always taken seriously and sometimes ignored. However, you ahve inforemd me well about a topic that is often overlooked.

Lorna Lamon (author) on November 17, 2020:

Hi Denise, Anxiety can hit at the most unexpected times and can be very debilitating. Having a 'panic attack' is a sure sign that someone is extremely anxious. Perhaps your work colleague was under stress with something not related to his job. I'm glad you found the article helpful and as always your comments are invaluable. Take care Denise.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on November 16, 2020:

Well, I find I'm still able to comment on the "feed" even now after a week. I got a lot out of this. I remember one person working with us at the radio station would leave early because he said he was having a "panic attack" and had to go lie down. At the time I was sure he was faking it but now I wonder if I was being unfeeling because I had to finish his work.

Blessings,

Denise

Lorna Lamon (author) on November 06, 2020:

I think it's becoming very frustrating to not be able to leave comments. We are all on different time zones and work hours, so this makes it very difficult. I'm glad you enjoyed this article Peggy and thank you for commenting. Best wishes and keep safe.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 05, 2020:

This is one of your articles where we can still leave comments. Your tips about how to best deal with anxiety issues is undoubtedly very helpful during these stressful times of the pandemic and other world issues. Wishing you good health and happiness.

Lorna Lamon (author) on November 02, 2020:

Hi Denise, I think in the case of epilepsy, and MS cannabis can be prescribed. However, you cannot buy it in the UK. There have been studies as to its effect on anxiety, however, it is only short-term and the side effects outweigh the benefits. Personally I wouldn't recommend long-term use as it's extremely addictive. Your daughter should look into cannabis oil which is not as harmful with few side effects, and can be bought in health shops. Take care Denise and thank you for commenting.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on November 01, 2020:

My daughter insists that Canibus helps anxiety as well. Is she right? Sometimes I think she just likes to be high, but then she does show definite signs of calming down with the Canibus than without. Do doctors recommend this as a treatment ever?

Blessings,

Denise

Lorna Lamon (author) on October 31, 2020:

Hi Chrish, Sadly this condition is not always taken seriously and unfortunately if not treated then it may develop into depression. I'm glad you found the article useful and thank you for commenting. Lots of love from Ireland and keep well my friend.

Chrish Canosa from Manila Philippines on October 31, 2020:

Very helpful Ms Lorna.

The coping strategies really is a huge help and so is the people around the person who's facing anxiety

They often offer a wrong treatment

Like by simply saying these lines

You'll be fine:

It'll be ok:

That's life:

You're a strong person:

And the most annoying is when they ask how do you feel?

I mean seriously!?it sounds like a torture. Instead of addressing those nonsense it is better to force the person go for a hike or visit some beaches so she/he can suck in some fresh air, and when the signal is more clearer the person will face at you, you don't have to say anything just listen.

Happy weekend!

A bunge of love from the philippines:-)

Lorna Lamon (author) on October 31, 2020:

Anxiety does have many layers and can lead to depression. Thank you for taking the time to read this article Umesh and I appreciate your comments.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 31, 2020:

Anxiety is a tough subject. You have covered it well.

Lorna Lamon (author) on October 12, 2020:

I'm sorry to hear about your daughter Denise. Fortunately we now have better insight into anxiety and how it can lead to depression. I just wish we had this information years ago. It's wonderful that she achieved so much and I hope she has the treatment she needs. Thank you for commenting and take care.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on October 11, 2020:

My daughter used to have terrible anxiety and even panic attacks. Since at that time we couldn't go to a doctor and when we did they didn't know what was wrong, I would give her color crayons and paper. She made her own kind of color therapy by rocking back and forth while drawing pictures using lots of color. She would chew her nails down to within an eighth of an inch of the quick. No matter what I tried those nails were her calming source and never were allowed to grow much. Now she has a degree in art and is (at 40) working hard on growing her nails. Poor kid. It would have helped if we had some help and answers back then.

Blessings,

Denise

Lorna Lamon (author) on October 08, 2020:

Anxiety or panic attacks can come out of nowhere and can be quite frightening. Having a few tools in place to help control and understand why they are happening can make all the difference. I'm glad the article was helpful Brenda and thank you for commenting. Take care my friend.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 08, 2020:

Lorna,

I had to look to find one I could comment on but I found it.

This particular topic interest me for I have anxiety or panic attacks sometimes while driving.

The breathing technique does help along with cold air.

It seems like one forgets to breathe.

I imagine the colouring would help control anxiety...it sounds soothing.

Thanks for the share.

Lorna Lamon (author) on October 05, 2020:

Hi Peggy,

There has been a sharp increase in people presenting with anxiety and depression in my clinic, due to the virus and all it entails.

We have heard the latest news about your President. I would not wish this illness on my worst enemy, however, I think his cavalier attitude may cost him dearly. Our own Prime Minister was also very cavalier about this virus and became extremely ill. Thank you for commenting Peggy and I hope that they will enable the comments soon, as it is very frustrating. Take care and stay safe.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 04, 2020:

Hi Lorna,

There are increasing numbers of people coming down with COVID in the U.S., including our President and many others in government, as you undoubtedly know. Some people like to act as if there is no pandemic. It is crazy! Hopefully, anxiety caused by this pandemic will end, but probably not in the foreseeable future.

It is getting harder to find some of your articles where comments can still be made, since most of yours are on niche sites. I hope that comments will be enabled on the niche sites soon.

Lorna Lamon (author) on September 07, 2020:

Laughter is life's greatest medicine and I'm glad your friend had these moments to share with her husband. They provide a lifetime of memories to be cherished.

There has been a sharp increase in anxiety over these covid months and now that lockdown has eased people are anxious for different reasons. Thank you for taking the time to read this article Peggy and for your invaluable comments.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 07, 2020:

Laughter therapy is good for many reasons. A psychologist friend of ours tried watching as many comedy movies with her husband, who was dying of cancer, as she could. It lightened the moments shared between them. I never forgot that lesson.

Your tips all sound good for those who are suffering from anxiety. Given the current pandemic, I am sure that more people than ever can benefit from doing some of these suggested things.

Lorna Lamon (author) on August 28, 2020:

Art therapy has many benefits and I use it to treat anxiety in particular. I can only imagine what a difficult and heartbreaking time this was for you Denise and I am glad your art helped you cope. I always appreciate your comments and thank you for the visit.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on August 27, 2020:

I can relate to the color therapy. It was what helped me get through the grief I experienced when my teen girls decided to leave me and go live with their father. If not for my art, I would have crumbled. This is well-written important information. Thanks.

Blessings,

Denise

Lorna Lamon (author) on May 31, 2019:

Thank you for commenting David - glad you found the article helpful and that the power of prayer works for you.

David Edward Lynch from Port Elizabeth, South Africa on May 30, 2019:

Thanks for this article and the advice you give. Certain things trigger anxiety in me and I personally find prayer helpful.

Lorna Lamon (author) on November 24, 2018:

So glad you enjoyed the article Eric. Many thanks.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on November 23, 2018:

Thank you for coming over to visit me. What pleasure it is to read this so insightful piece. I am seeing myself doing all of this with or without anxiety. Healthy minds are so wonderful.