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  • Writer's pictureMonique Johnson

The Anxious Mind

Updated: Mar 9, 2021

Do you remember the last time that you spoke in front of a group of people? Were you so nervous that you started to sweat? What about when you walked into a job interview, did you feel your heart pounding inside of your chest? If so, then you were experiencing anxiety. We ALL experience anxiety. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health illness in the U.S. and women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety compared to men. Anxiety has taken a toll on our nation especially during these unprecedented times. COVID-19 has increased everyone’s anxiety, especially those that were experiencing an anxiety disorder prior to the pandemic. It’s important to know about anxiety and how it impacts the human body.


What does anxiety look like?


Anxiety is a human emotion. It is a part of our alarm system that keeps us safe. Anxiety motivates us to be prepared, helps us to be on alert when near danger, and protects us from risks that may harm us. When a person experiences an anxiety disorder, they experience this emotion more intensely. They may worry constantly or have an irrational fear of something that presents little to no threat of danger. Some individuals that experience anxiety disorders avoid social situations because they don’t want to be judged, humiliated, or embarrassed. When our anxiety begins to interrupt our daily living activities, become excessive or inhibits us to fully function, then it could be an anxiety disorder.


Anxiety looks different on everyone because it can display physically and/or emotionally in a person.


Physical Symptoms:

- Rapid heart rate

- Sweating

- Headache

- Fatigue

- Upset stomach

- Shortness of breath


Emotional Symptoms:

- Irritability

- Feeling tense or jumpy

- Feeling restless

- Anticipating the worse

- On alert for signs of danger

- Feelings of apprehension or dread


These are a few of the symptoms that are displayed physically and emotionally. How do you experience your anxiety?


Types of Anxiety


There are different types of anxiety disorders and they each have different symptoms. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is when a person consistently worries for hours on a daily basis about everything, and the individual finds it difficult to control the worry. Panic Disorder involves panic attacks, the fear of reoccurring panic attacks, and feelings of terror. Social Anxiety Disorder is when a person experiences significant anxiety in a social situation as well as when called upon to speak or perform in front of others. Phobias are when a particular object, animal, insect, or situation causes intense levels of anxiety. These are the most common types of anxiety disorders.


Managing Your Anxiety


Everyone’s anxiety may manifest differently. Some people are able to manage it well, while others struggle to stay afloat. With anxiety levels rising and falling as new information about COVID-19 comes out, it is important to know how to manage your anxiety. There are a variety of tools to use to cope with your anxious feelings. As you all know, I am an advocate for exercise. Exercise is a great tool to help with your anxiety. Grounding techniques like 54321 or categories, help you to take the attention off of your anxious thoughts or worries and bring your attention to the present moment. Deep breathing and mindfulness exercises like progressive muscle relaxation, helps you to release the tension in your body and it helps you to feel calm. There are a ton of coping skills out there, but the important part is that you find something that works for you!


Anxiety displays in many forms and many ways. From normal experiences of anxiety to intense anxiety disorders, it is important to know your triggers and know how to manage them. If you have tried coping skills and are still struggling to manage your anxiety, then you should try therapy. Going to therapy is always the best resource and option to assist you with any mental health concerns. Therapy helps with anxiety by challenging your negative thinking patterns that sometimes lead to your feelings of anxiety as well as avoidant behaviors. Our thoughts impact our feelings and behaviors, so through the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach, therapists help individuals to change and reframe their distorted or unhelpful thoughts. It’s about training your brain to think in a different way.


So, the next time that you are about to perform or are getting ready for an important meeting or presentation, do some deep breathing. 4-7-8 breathing is a great tool to assist you with those anxious feelings. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and breathe out through your mouth for 8 seconds. Practice it daily, try it out when your anxious, and you will be on your way to calming your anxious mind!



Sources:


Understand anxiety & depression: Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. (n.d.). Retrieved March 01, 2021, from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety

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