What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a future-oriented feeling of fear or apprehension. This emotion is our body’s natural response to stress in our environment. Like all of our emotions, anxiety has a very adaptive function. Gaining tools and tips on how to manage stress and anxiety in our lives will help reduce daily stressors that may arise.

When we experience a threat to our wellbeing (stress), anxiety motivates us to take action through our fight, flight, or freeze response to keep us safe from harm.

For example, if you are about to cross the street when a vehicle is going to run a red light and hits you, your brain will automatically process this dangerous situation and motivate you to freeze and keep a safe distance.

Similarly, it is normal to feel anxious before an exam. The anxiety we experience will motivate us to study for the assessment, leading to better performance and improved self-confidence when we succeed.

What are 3 symptoms of anxiety?

Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, when people have intense, frequent feelings of being anxious and a persistent worry about simple daily situations, this is when an individual needs to try and help reduce their anxiety.

There are many examples of different anxiety disorders that include social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, generalised anxiety disorder or some people may have more than one anxiety disorder. Some symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Feeling tense, restless, or nervous
  • Sweating
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Increase heart rate
  • Breathing heavily
  • Having trouble sleeping

How do you resolve anxiety?

Below are some helpful tips on how to manage your anxiety.

  1. A good sleep routine –get in the habit of waking up and falling asleep at the same time every day. Limit technology usage before bed because the blue light from your screens affect the hormones that help regulate your circadian rhythm (your ‘internal clock’).
  2. Eat regularly and healthy –follow the World Health Organization recommended guidelinesor talk to a nutritionist about a healthy diet that suits your lifestyle.
  3. Exercise daily –the World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise throughout the week.
  4. Practice mindfulness –a great way to help us remain focused on the present moment and being non-judgmental towards our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
  5. Engage in a daily self-care routine –do one small thing every day as self-care and this will help you manage difficult emotions that arise throughout the day.

If you experience an intense moment of anxiety such as a panic attack, here are some tips to manage your distress in the moment:

  • Breathe deeply – inhale through your nose for 4 seconds then exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. Do this for 5 minutes and it will slow down your heart rate and reduce other symptoms of anxiety.
  • Change your body temperature – run your face under the cold tap or plunge your face in an ice bath to kickstart your ‘dive reflex’ which will regulate your internal systems.
  • Muscle relaxation – flex and tense muscle groups in your body 3 times each from your feet all the way up to your face.

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