Feb 18, 2019
Health Chatter: What to do about anxiety
Anxiety is something we’ve all experienced from time to time - it happens when we’re worried or nervous about something. It’s perfectly normal to feel anxious – it’s your body’s way of keeping you safe when it perceives a threat.
Depending on the situation, you can experience mild or severe anxiety. There can be a single trigger or event that raises anxiety levels, or it can be a combination of events. Maybe you’re going to a job interview or waiting to hear some important news - work deadlines, big life events, exams… these can all contribute to feelings of anxiety.
Symptoms of anxiety
Some of the physical and psychological symptoms of anxiety are:
- rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
- fast breathing
- weakened or tense muscles
- churning stomach or loose bowels, feeling constantly on edge
- dizziness, pins and needles or tingling
- dry mouth.
- trouble sleeping
- lack of concentration
- feeling irritable, restless and having a sense of dread
- feeling depressed
- loss of self-confidence and withdrawing yourself from family and friends to avoid your feelings
Responding to anxiety
People respond to anxiety in different ways. The way you respond can depend on a number of factors including:
- your upbringing
- your life experiences
- your ability to cope with things
Being aware of what makes you feel anxious and why is a helpful step in managing your anxiety.
When anxiety becomes a problem
Anxiety isn’t a bad thing, however it can become a mental health problem if you are struggling to manage your anxiety. Signs that you may need to seek help to manage your anxiety include:
- very strong or long-lasting episodes of anxiety
- your anxiety is preventing you from carrying on as normal with your every day life
- you avoid situations because they make you anxious
- your worries outweigh the situation
- you find it hard to control your feelings, or they cause you distress
- you experience panic attacks regularly, or other symptoms of anxiety
- you stop or avoid doing things you enjoy because you’re worried
It’s estimated that over 1 in 10 people will have experienced some form of anxiety disorder at some point in their lives
Managing anxiety and getting help
If anxiety is causing you problems, it’s important to take steps to address it. You don’t need to put up with it, and there are plenty of options for starting to take back control.
- Talk it through with someone you feel comfortable with – friends, family, work colleagues – even your GP or the Samaritans could help if you’re worried about talking to someone you know
- Keeping a log of when you feel anxious and what you perceived was the trigger to your anxiety – this will help you understand your symptoms and work out ways to deal with preparing yourself for anxiety inducing situations
- Learn relaxation techniques e.g. breathing and meditation and find ways to relax e.g. by having some massage therapy
- Take regular and gentle exercise - this helps the body to release chemicals which can improve your mood
- Eat well, avoiding processed foods and foods with high sugar contents as your mood can drop after the sugar rush has gone
- Avoid drinking alcohol in excess as some alcohol can lower your mood and after recovering from a hangover you can feel worse about those things you were ‘trying to forget’ with alcohol
- If you belong to a Faith group, tapping into the support groups within your faith group can often help to provide the support and understanding you need
- If your anxiety is not helped or supported by one or more of the above, medication may be recommended by your doctor. It is important to ensure your doctor is aware of your anxieties as soon as possible so that they can support you appropriately as General Anxiety Disorder may affect you both physically and mentally
- Specialist counselling may also be required to support your understanding of your anxieties and how to manage and cope with this in the future. Such as CBT
- Self-help online CBT resources are available
- Look for trusted chatbot apps such as Wysa as a first step if talking aloud feels overwhelming
Our sources and for more information:
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