Everyone goes through moments of anxiety – when they need to present a project, when they speak in public or when they go through a job interview. However, for some people, being anxious becomes so frequent that it begins to take over their lives. How can you tell if your everyday anxiety has crossed the line of a disorder? What to do to overcome and stop being anxious? In today’s text, I will explain a little about this problem and give you some tips to stop being an anxious person.
In today’s text we will talk about:
- Normal anxiety vs. chronic anxiety
- Types of Anxiety Disorder
- 7 attitudes to stop being an anxious person
- Do everything in your time
Normal anxiety vs. chronic anxiety
Do you get a cold in your stomach before an important event? Worried about meeting a deadline? Nervous about a medical procedure? If so, you are like most people who are concerned with big events (like having a child, taking an exam or buying a house) or with practical problems (like money or health conditions). It is normal. Likewise, it is not uncommon to have fears about certain things (like spiders, injections or heights) that make you feel some fear, concern and / or apprehension.
However, it is not common for someone not to leave the house for long periods of time because they are afraid of being in the crowd or because they remember a past traumatic event. This is not a “normal feeling or experience”. When this happens, we may be facing an anxiety disorder.
Types of Anxiety Disorder
There are many disorders related to anxiety, these are the main ones:
1) Panic syndrome (with or without agoraphobia)
It is characterized by strong feelings that you are about to die, as if you were having a heart attack; or else he feels that he is losing control, that he is going crazy or losing consciousness. After having a panic attack, a cycle can be created, with the fear of having a new panic attack, an anxiety of having a new anxiety attack.
2) Generalized anxiety disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder or simply GAD is characterized by excessive and uncontrollable concern about events and activities and possible negative results. Deep down, fear in generalized anxiety is a catastrophic end to concerns or situations that are perceived as threats.
3) Social phobia
Social phobia (or social anxiety) is one of the most common types of anxiety and always happens in public situations. It can be an oral presentation at a meeting, lecture or seminar, or it can be in an informal conversation. The person with social phobia feels great anxiety in social situations, as if he were to be evaluated negatively, humiliated or embarrassed.
4) Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorders are characterized by repeated and persistent thoughts (“obsessions”) that usually cause suffering; the individual tries to relieve by repeatedly performing specific actions (“compulsions”). Examples of common obsessions include: fear of not doing things in a particular way and resulting in harm to yourself or others, extreme anxiety about being dirty or contaminated by germs, concern about forgetting to do something important that can result in bad results or obsessions around accuracy or symmetry. Examples of common compulsions include: checking (for example, if the door is locked or with an error), counting or asking (for example, money or household items) and performing a mental action (for example, praying).
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is caused by trauma, by a terrible event that actually happened in the individual’s history. Anxiety, then, comes from fear of thoughts, memories or symptoms related to the traumatic experience.
Although there are several different types of anxiety disorders, each with unique characteristics, there are some common symptoms that can be an indication that someone is suffering from an anxiety disorder:
- Excessive anxiety or concern about future events. Some examples may be social situations, demands for work or separation of people or removal from “safe” places, such as parents or homes.
- Panic feelings and associated physiological reactions (sweating from the hands, fast heart, heavy breathing) in certain situations.
- Sleep disorders related to anxiety or worry.
- Difficulty concentrating as a result of anxiety or worry.
- General signs of distress, such as neglect of personal hygiene, weight gain or loss, decline in performance at work or school, major changes in mood or withdrawal from activities or relationships.
The causes of anxiety can be various or simply without any logical reason. In fact, scientists have not yet been able to define an exact cause, but some of the factors that can influence its development are:
Hereditary biological factors (other family members suffer).
Imbalance in our neurotransmitters due to lack of sleep, not eating properly or excessive levels of stress.
Crisis situations, radical changes or difficult problems that we are going through now; for example: a divorce, the death of a relative, a move, a recent marriage or a new child.
- Traumatic events
- Daily stress
- Non-conformity with your current life situation
- Cardiac problems such as cardiac arrhythmias
- Hormonal diseases like hyperthyroidism or hyperadrenocorticism
- Breathing problems like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Chronic pains
- Abuse of drugs, alcohol or medications such as benzodiazepines
Depending on the type of anxiety, treatment using medications may be the best way to start, while in other cases, psychotherapy – combined or not with treatment with drugs – will be the most suitable.
However, it is essential to see a doctor to diagnose the problems and indicate the specific treatment for each case. Never try to self-medicate, the wrong medication can seriously affect your health and even make the problem worse.
7 attitudes to stop being an anxious person:
1. Accept anxiety, be an impartial observer
Anxiety is harmful, we know that and that is why we want to eliminate it. Therefore, it is normal for our first impulse to be to deny and reject it. However, the paradox is that the more we try to fight anxiety, the more overwhelmed we feel. When we deny an emotion or sensation, it grows.
Do not try to deny the anxiety you experience, just be aware of its existence. When you don’t shy away from an emotion or labels as “negative”, you can emotionally distance yourself from the problem and regain control of yourself.
2. Eliminate the rush of your life
Most anxious people continually move from place to place, eat standing up, without sitting at the table, and perform different tasks at once. Your computer, for example, is usually chaos made up of different windows and open programs. And that is what we express to the outside, it is nothing more than the reflection of our mind. As a result, the brain responds by further increasing levels of cortisol and adrenaline, which creates more anxiety.
Don’t leave pending tasks
One of the things that increases our state of anxiety is knowing that we have pending tasks. In fact, it is not the tasks themselves that wear us down and exhaust us, but the constant mental reminder that we must do them.
Remember that the way you organize your day will affect your mental state. So don’t let the tasks pile up because if you leave them until the last moment, you are only helping to increase your anxiety level. Learning how to organize your life will allow you to eliminate a major source of anxiety: pending tasks and those that steal your energy without providing any reward in return.
4. Question your negative thoughts
An anxious person’s mind is his worst enemy. In fact, anxiety grows due to unrealistic thoughts that the person develops. Therefore, it is essential that you learn to detect them and interrupt their course.
The most common is that the anxious person responds in an exaggerated way to everyday situations. It makes a storm in a glass of water, it thinks that a simple mistake will have terrible consequences. That way, it adds unnecessary tension to your life. Therefore, it is important that you start to question those catastrophic thoughts that do not fit reality.
Ask yourself: is this concern realistic? What probabilities are there to be met? What is the worst that could happen? How could I handle this?
5. Live the “here and now”
The anxious person tends to live between the past and the future. She blames herself for what happened and worries or is scared about what might happen. So, it fills your present with anxiety. In fact, anxiety often arises from precisely those concerns about the future. The anxious person suffers a kind of obsession with the future, thinking about all the disasters that could happen.
However, to combat anxiety, it is important to learn to focus on the present. Breathe, look around and realize that nothing bad is happening now. The practice of mindfulness can help you achieve this goal. You don’t even need to meditate, you just have to learn to focus on the here and now, on the experience you are having, without criticizing it and without letting your mind wander into the future.
One of the best strategies to combat anxiety and stress is to exercise. It is not necessary for you to spend a lot of time, just half an hour every day will be enough.
In fact, a study at Princeton University found that regular physical activity makes the brain better resist stress attacks because restructuring occurs at a functional level. In practice, sport disrupts the activity of neurons in the ventral hippocampus, which are primarily responsible for activating areas of the brain linked to response, stress and anxiety.
7. Relax and breathe
Relaxation techniques are very effective in combating anxiety. One of the most common is to tense each muscle group, then gently relax them. If you suffer from anxiety, you are likely to have a great deal of tension in your body, especially in the back and between the eyebrows.
These techniques must be accompanied by good breathing. Although we are not aware of this, breathing is a very important process through which the mind obtains feedback from our state. When we breathe quickly and shallowly, our brain understands that something is not going well and that we may be in danger, which increases the level of anxiety. When we breathe slowly and deeply, all bodily functions, including the heartbeat, are stimulated and it is easier to relax.
Do everything in your time
You will not stop being an anxious person overnight, however, you can decrease the symptoms and gradually improve if you follow the tips above. Do everything in your time, without haste and you will see the results in no time. If your case is extreme, see a doctor to try to help you and indicate an appropriate treatment. Do not suffer quietly, seek and ask for help.