An exam to pass, a job interview or the fear of losing what you have, waiting for a diagnosis, a radical life change, uncertainty about the future, are all situations associated with a certain degree of worry, stress and nervousness that everyone experiences at many moments in life.
Suffering from an anxiety disorder is something very similar and very different at the same time, in the sense that the sensations experienced are largely the same, but almost constantly present, persistent over time and pervasive, to the point of preventing concentration, rationally analyze problems and identify solutions, carry out usual activities serenely, rest and take pleasure in pleasant situations / activities.
Risk factors and circumstances that can promote anxiety
Everyone can be affected by an anxiety disorder at some point in life, but there are people who are more predisposed than others and events and circumstances that can favor the onset and persistence of anxiety symptoms.
- Belong to the female gender.
- Having experienced traumatic experiences or having witnessed dramatic events in childhood (a car accident, a robbery, an earthquake, etc.).
- Suffering from severe chronic diseases (especially cardiac, respiratory, digestive or metabolic diseases) or having been affected in the past by a severe disease and / or associated with a strong negative emotional component (for example, a tumor, a heart attack, an operation surgery gone wrong etc.).
- Having been exposed to a source of acute intense stress or to more modest but prolonged stresses (such as those associated, for example, with a conflicted family life, professional activities characterized by excessive demands for productivity and efficiency or serious economic difficulties).
- Having a psychological profile characterized by a poor ability to adapt to external stimuli and a spontaneous tendency to nervousness and worry.
- Predisposition on a genetic basis (to date, not clearly determined).
- Intake of substances (alcohol, drugs, drugs, caffeine, nicotine, herbal extracts, etc.) that tend to worsen the response to stress and increase the tendency to anxiety.
To relieve a clinically relevant anxiety disorder, cognitive behavioral psychotherapy and, sometimes, specific drug therapy (in most cases, based on SSRI antidepressants and / or benzodiazepines for short periods) are almost always required .
In addition to these specialized interventions, there is a series of remedies for anxiety : practical and technical measures that everyone can use in everyday life to reduce the tension, nervousness and worry that can arise in the most disparate situations.
These interventions are also useful in those who do not suffer from clinical anxiety, to better deal with the most stressful and demanding periods from a psychoemotional point of view.
- Exercise regularly. Moving the body has a proven favorable effect on balance and psychological well-being. Practicing sports or walking or cycling, alone or in company, helps to ease tension, relieve nervousness, improve mood, increase self-confidence and promote night rest.
- Ensure a good sleep. Sleeping at least 7-8 hours a night and maintaining a regular rhythm of life, going to bed and getting up at about the same time every day, is essential for reacting positively to stress and maintaining a good psychological balance. If stress and anxiety prevent you from falling asleep or cause repeated or early awakenings, contact your doctor to find an appropriate remedy.
- Eat in a healthy and balanced way. Nutritional imbalances and unhealthy diets make you more vulnerable to nervousness and stress. In particular, magnesium and B vitamins deficiency can promote the onset of unstable mood, nervousness, depression and anxiety. To protect yourself, it is important to have regular, nutritious, light and varied meals. Preferred: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish and legumes and fresh foods, rich in essential vitamins and micronutrients.
- Reduce consumption of caffeinated beverages and alcohol. Caffeine has a known, albeit mild, stimulating / exciting effect: above all, if you know that you are sensitive to its action, it is better to avoid taking it or reduce its consumption in periods of greatest nervousness. Alcohol, on the other hand, constitutes a dangerous temporary palliative to anxiety, risking to induce addiction if consumed excessively.
- Spend as much time as possible outdoors and in the midst of nature. Staying outdoors, surrounded by greenery or in any case in a pleasant environment helps to reorganize thoughts and relax the nerves. The ideal is to take a walk of at least half an hour every day, especially if the weather is pleasant, and take a trip out of town at least once a week.
- Avoid loneliness. Socializing, being around pleasant people, creating new relationships and dedicating time to loved ones is essential to relativize problems, remove anxiety and maintain a good mood. Trying to participate in shared activities and projects helps you feel less alone, reduce anxiety and improve your approach to life’s problems.
- Learn relaxation techniques. Learning different relaxation strategies and applying them regularly, especially in times of greatest stress, can help prevent nervousness, anxiety and stress from taking over. Yoga, meditation, guided breathing, tai chi etc. are suitable. In addition, massage, acupuncture, and listening to classical or meditation music can be helpful.
- Take strategic breaks. In moments of stress and anxiety, the ability to concentrate and yield are very low and you risk making mistakes. It is therefore advisable to stop what you are doing for a few minutes and try to distract yourself by thinking about positive situations, breathing deeply, taking a walk, listening to some music, etc. After that, everything will be easier.
- Share your emotions. Keeping fears and worries to yourself makes them more pervasive and cumbersome and makes you feel more alone. Talking about your problems with friends and family who are willing to listen and examining different opinions on a critical situation helps to reduce its burden and identify solutions not considered. Conversely, it is important to avoid devoting time to unpleasant people, who put you in difficulty or make you nervous.
- Adopt a conscious and positive attitude towards negative emotions. A very useful discipline for protecting psychological balance and living better that has been gaining ground in recent years is that of “mindfulness” meditation: an approach that helps to overcome negative moods, becoming fully aware of them and learning to accept and live them for what they are, with the certainty that sooner or later they will pass: anxiety included.