What is Anxiety?
I've had Anxiety for a long time.
Whenever something big happens, I find that knowing the ins and outs of whatever it is helps. This might be a need to make sure I’m prepared for that “worst case scenario” that I always convince myself will happen, or maybe I’m just curious and it occupies my mind. Anyway, when my doctor told me I had an Anxiety Disorder, I decided to read up on it and find out what it is to help me control it.
Anxiety is that unnerving feeling that we all experience from time to time.
The uptight/worry/tense/wound up feeling can also cause physical symptoms including:
- Increased Heart Rate
- Muscular Tension
- Feeling of breathlessness
I’m lucky that my physical symptoms are mostly just heart palpitations, (almost constant) sweating and fidgeting but some people become paralysed with it, have shooting pains and other symptoms that make them feel like they’re literally going to die.
Anxiety has evolutionary benefits so it’s ingrained in us all. Whenever we’re under threat, we experience anxiety which raises our heart rates and breathing (to increase the blood flow) which pushes blood into our muscles (so we can fight or flight), which in turn heats us up so we sweat (to cool down).
In a threatening situation, these responses can mean the difference from life and death but when you’re just paying for that chocolate bar you bought in the corner shop, you just end up looks like a panting, jittery, sweaty mess.
As well as all these physical symptoms, it can affect your behaviours too.
If I'm invited to a party and I'm worrying that people won't like me or it'll be too awkward, I'd sometimes cancel it or make an excuse to pull out. This is a perfect example of changing behaviour in favour of your anxiety.
Doing this can kick off the sh*t storm of self-hate also called the "Cycle of Anxiety"...
So in the case of the party invite:
THOUGHTS = "Nobody will like me"
FEELINGS = Upset/Anxious
BEHAVIOURS = Decline invitation
THOUGHTS = "They'll think I'm a bad friend"
FEELINGS = Disappointment/Self-Conscious
BEHAVIOURS = Avoid Friends
and on and on, until your head explodes with bad feels or you cry. Either or, it's not pleasant so it's better to shut it down as early as you can by acknowledging the feelings, then moving on.
After loads of research and counselling appointments, I've learned that you should aim to "feed" your anxiety less and less (aka, don't entertain those thoughts) until it becomes second nature to bat those "what if" thoughts (and all the others) away so you can get back to normality.
The process that seem to work for me is:
- Understanding Anxiety
- Challenging Unhelpful Thoughts
- Problem Solving
- Reducing Worrying
- Relaxing Physically & Mentally
- Stop Avoiding My Triggers
I'll keep posting more about the methods I use and what works for me in the future (if you like it) so keep an eye out!
Hopefully, like me, knowing a bit more about what anxiety is can help you get a grasp on it.
Go out there and be the best version of yourself ❤
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