What is Anxiety?

What is Anxiety?

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is that feeling of perpetual worry, it is the butterflies in your stomach, a fast heart rate, rapid breathing, and a continuous feeling of fear or nervousness. Some of us feel anxious before we are about to perform in front of others, we might feel it before we go in for an interview or start a new job and sometimes we find ourselves feeling fearful about being judged negatively by others. There is a whole array of reasons why we might experience anxiety, each and every one of them is personal to our own life experiences and circumstances. 

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

Sometimes we find ourselves feeling:

  • Nervous
  • Tense
  • Stressed
  • Panic 
  • Constant worry 

Sometimes we might find anxiety manifesting in physical symptoms too, such as:

  • An increased heart rate – this can feel like it is going a million miles an hour.
  • Breathlessness
  • Pounding headaches
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Needing to go to the toilet often
  • Muscle tension or muscle spasms

Finally, we might also experience anxiety affecting the way in which we behave or respond to a situation. Have you ever found yourself;

  • Pacing around?
  • Avoiding social situations?
  • Squirming in your seat or not being able to sit still?
  • Finding it difficult to complete tasks that were once easy for you?

If any of these symptoms are familiar to you, then you might be experiencing anxiety. But do not panic, anxiety is actually our natural response to protect us from danger. The reason why you might be experiencing some of those acute physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate, breathlessness, and pacing, means that your fight or flight instincts are in good, working order – a positive trait in fact!

In order for us to have evolved to flee from danger, it is important that we can breathe faster to oxygenate our blood and to either fight or run away from the impending danger. The only difficultly is that this response forms a contradiction to the way in which we are able to face our fears in the modern world. We do feel fear and stress, but our instincts have not caught up quickly enough for it to develop a natural response to what we perceive as danger in environments such as an office, or a classroom or even in our friendly social circles. A far cry from the cave men, brandishing a club and running through the wild that you might be imagining right now. The reality is that we don’t have the option to just run for the hills in 2021, or challenge our difficulties head-on if we are working behind a busy customer service desk at a supermarket in Luton, for example.

Why do we suffer from anxiety?

There are so many different reasons as to why we might be suffering from anxiety. Some of them might be as a result of unresolved past trauma. This is due to learned behavior from a set of responses to memories of; bullying, abuse, harassment, neglect, or social exclusion. These memories can be painful and whether we like it or not, could be a major contributing factor to our anxiety. 

Another trigger for our anxiety could be due to our own personal thought processes. Have you ever found yourself staying on your guard, worrying about the worst possible outcome? This is understandable as anxiety is a way in which we try to protect ourselves. However, it can be more damaging than good when we are staying on “high alert” all the time. This can be exhausting and can lead us to avoid going to social events or places that we worry will make us feel even worse. To be on a constant path of fear understandably leaves us feeling drained and exhausted, making it difficult to “switch off” and relax. However, the reality is that we need that break in order to handle the everyday tasks and challenges that we face. 

Also, aspects to our current life situation could be adding further stress and pressure on us. We might be experiencing financial issues, loneliness, housing problems, difficulty in managing at work or university, or maybe finding it hard to cope at home with our loved ones. 

We all have different reasons for our constant worrying however even though our life journey might be very different from the next person, you might be surprised to know that our worries are often very similar. It is important to consider that we are not alone in our experiences and that even though anxiety is a natural reaction, it is not uncontrollable. There are proven and effective ways of managing our reactions to it. 

Strategies such as:

  • Recognising how we are feeling
  • Grounding ourselves and securing our place in the world around us
  • Listing our problems and finding solutions (ourselves – believe it or not!)
  • Breathing exercises 
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercises
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Allowing ourselves time to worry
  • Giving ourselves a break and actually commit to regularly indulging in something that is relaxing to us

We all have the ability to take control of our anxiety and the vicious cycle of symptoms that it manifests. We can continue to live the vibrant and fulfilling life that we deserve. Once you take the first step to seek the help that you need, you will then be one step closer to achieving the life that you deserve. With the help and guidance from the therapists at Arkesie and a dose of patience and commitment from you, you will have both the strength and the tools to manage the effects of the crippling nature of anxiety. 

Written by Sarah Hicks