Shyloe Fayad is Okanagan based and the CEO & Founder of Happiness Habits and Radical Wondering Collective. In this article she discusses anxiety, what it is, and how do you know if you have it. And this is the 1st article in a 3 part series.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety can be described as; a physical response to specific thoughts you’re having or specific circumstances in your life. It often affects the way your body works, it affects your thoughts and your behavior. Anybody can suffer from anxiety; it doesn't matter what age you are. Anxiety can even be one of the things that children go through; for example, nerves and apprehension about the first day of school. The important thing to know about anxiety is that it is actually a very normal experience. It becomes abnormal when you experience anxiety consecutively for prolonged periods of time and inhibiting the way you're living your life. It is worth noting that anxiety is very beneficial. Anxiety is one of the body's responses to danger, to stress, to potential accidents. Having anxiety is one of the things that help you when you actually are faced with danger. That physiological response comes into play when you're crossing the street or when you're driving your car and you think that something might happen that causes you to make a quick decision. It’s the symptoms of anxiety in your body that will actually bring your attention to what's going on and signal you to have that fight, flight, or freeze response. The biggest benefit of anxiety is for you to be warned of dangerous situations.
Drugs and Alcohol
Often times we’ve seen friends or family suffering from anxiety turn to drinking or end up using marijuana. Alcohol and drugs only help settle your anxiety temporarily, but it actually doesn’t remove the anxiety and can compound the situation. It is very common for people in need of help due to severe anxiety they also go through a primary addiction treatment first. One would have to go off the drug and alcohol first to really get to that anxiety component in order to treat the real root of the problem. Self-medicating is not the answer and one should seek help if anxiety is becoming a pattern and debilitating.
Symptoms of Anxiety
It's important to know that anxiety is a 3-part process. It affects you physically, it affects your thoughts, and it also affects your behaviors.
- Physical symptoms – When you feel anxious, what is happening in your body is that your body is preparing itself for some sort of massive attack or danger. The heart will start beating faster and pumps more blood into your extremities. This physiological response is there so that you can run, freeze or fight back. The other part about it is it also affects your adrenal glands. A lot of people are suffering from adrenal fatigue because adrenals are pushing out cortisol all the time. In this demanding and fast-paced world, people are oftentimes suffering from a low level of anxiety because their body is in a constant state of fight, flight or freeze. These are the common physical symptoms:
– increased heart rate
– excessive sweating
– stomach discomfort
– dizziness and lightheadedness
– numbness and tingling
– trembling, and shaking
If these symptoms are occurring in your life for an extended period of time it may be something that you need to take a look at and seek out for professional help.
- It affects you behavior – You might have avoided certain situations like last-minute canceling on a social engagements, or you have difficulty speaking at work meeting, pass up promotions for fear of failure, you have excessive fear on making mistakes, you're almost paralyzed at this thought of stepping outside your comfort zone or moving up the ladder at work, or you might avoid going to your doctor appointments because you find that stressful.
- “If that feeling is taken away from you today, what things would you be doing differently?”
This is an important question to ask yourself and it would give you a better understanding if you suffer from anxiety, or if it's actually controlling a portion of your life.
- It affects your thoughts – Anxiety really augments with the way you see and think about events and situations. As a result, you are very focused on the negative outcomes in your life and tend to worry. It is common to have this thought: “What will happen if…”.
“What happens if I get sick and I can't go to work?”
“What will happen if I fail in this interview?”
“What will happen if I forget to lock the door?
Your mind is constantly thinking about the worst-case scenarios. This is some way is a natural state for humans to have. Naturally, our brain is hyper-vigilant for problems. Now, this becomes a serious issue when it's already impacting the way you're living your life. This is something that we really need to take a look at because it is often probably impeding the way you're living your life. Excessive worrying is a big sign and symptom of anxiety.
3 Ways in Dealing With Anxiety:
1.) Breathing – taking a full belly breath is one of the top tips for combatting anxiety. Full deep breathing is the keyword and not shallow breathing because the latter only increases your anxiety. When you're breathing into your belly, it naturally begins to relax your body. And really focusing on the extended exhale will activate your sympathetic nervous system and that should begin to calm you down. Count your belly breathing from 1 to 10.
2.) Talk to somebody – this is very hard for anxious people and this is very hard for anybody who is experiencing any uncomfortable feelings. But this is one of the top recommendations and that is talking about it. Go ahead and talk to a friend, talk to a professional, simply talk about your anxiety.
3.) Aerobic Activity – when you are experiencing anxiety, your body is pushing out adrenaline. It’s getting ready for some defensive fighting and what you want to do is use up that energy by doing any physical activity that can use up that adrenaline like lightly jogging, or dancing in your living room, or brisk walking outside. Some great information to motivate you to do aerobic activities are:
- it will burn away stress hormones
- will tire out your muscles
- is a healthy distraction exercise
- it forces healthier breathing
- it releases endorphins to improve your mood