Anxiety is defined as apprehension over an anticipated problem. It involves worrying, feelings of insecurity, and fear of losing control. Fear is a reaction to immediate danger, whereas anxiety is about a future threat. For example, if someone almost hits you with a car, you experience fear, but if you generally worry that someone may hit you with a car, then you feel anxious.
People who suffer from anxiety, start looking for threats in the environment and are very receptive to each stimulus that may represent them. It triggers fight or flight reactions in the body. Anxiety can also be caused by an inner value conflict or trauma. It’s very important to pay attention to your anxiety levels, look for help and find reasons behind it.
Anxiety becomes an anxiety disorder if it starts to affect your ability to cope with daily life and appropriately interact with the world. The most common anxiety disorders are generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobia, health anxiety, and post-traumatic anxiety disorder.
Anxiety is the body’s reaction to threats. The adrenaline bursts into the blood circulation and the body prepares itself to fight or flight. It happens even when the threat is not real. It’s the body’s survival mechanism – people wouldn’t be able to protect themselves without the body’s reaction to threat. Even thinking about something dangerous can trigger a reaction. The brain can’t always distinguish if the threat is real or imagined – the fight or flight response gets activated in both cases. This leads to the activation of the sympathetic nervous system which causes different bodily reactions like restlessness, tension, breathing difficulties, heart beating, and sweating. It’s important to have in mind that when we experience anxiety the above-mentioned sensations aren’t dangerous to our health.
When we experience anxiety our body is tense and ready to fight or flight. The relaxation techniques help us to relax and send our body a signal that the threat has passed. It helps to reduce anxiety and unpleasant bodily sensations.
There are different relaxation exercises:
You can find different relaxation techniques here:
You can also find different techniques on Youtube. Try to use the ones that help you the most.
Here are some examples in English:
Physical activity can also help to reduce anxiety. Take a walk, go for a run or do something else that you enjoy. Also, gardening or cleaning can help. Try to find the activity that is most convenient to you.
Working with your thoughts
Thoughts are like a constant dialogue in our heads. They come and go very quickly. Even so fast that we don’t manage to question them. As thoughts affect the way we feel and behave, it’s important to pay attention to the ones that may lead us to feeling anxious.
Is the thought based on facts or emotions?
Can my thoughts be an exaggerated version of the truth?
How would another person (a friend/ a colleague) see the situation?
Is my thought a probable or the worst scenario of what might happen?
What would be the most probable thing that could happen?
Changing the reactions and facing scary situations
On the one hand, it’s understandable and normal to avoid scary situations, but it’s important to know that avoiding certain events and situations normally preserves anxiety. With constant avoidance, we are unable to get new experiences and we can’t face the real consequences that may not be as catastrophic as we had thought. We also miss the joy and positive outcomes that may come with the avoided events.
Learning how to face challenging situations can seem unpleasant, but it helps us to regain control and feel better in the long term. You can make a step-by-step plan on how to start coping with the avoided situations. For example, if you’re afraid of big events, you can start with smaller ones and see the impact it has on you. Small steps can be difficult at the beginning, but they can help us reduce anxiety and learn to deal with avoided situations.
You can combine different techniques (working with thoughts and breathing exercises) at the same time. If you feel that the tips won’t work then we recommend you contact a mental health professional.