Anxiety

It’s Time To Be Your Own Anxiety Coach

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There’s a lot that keeps us up at night and day: whether our dreams will come true, whether the people we care about will be okay, whether we will be liked, whether we’ll be able to avoid embarrassment and misery. We bury our fears or try to avoid looking them in the eyes. We feel ashamed of how worried we are, which makes us feel alone and makes us worry even more. We feel sad and then we question ourselves, “Do I have anxiety?”

How about we help you solve this question, “Do I have anxiety?” How about if I tell you, “I have anxiety too”. Yeah! You heard it right. “I have anxiety too”. Anxiety is quite normal, and like so much else that bothers our thoughts, it can be understood and managed. But sometimes it can be scary too. The good news is that you have a quiz to help you out. Take this quiz and check on the boxes that you feel are true about you.

  • I am frequently nervous and apprehensive.
  • Certain items, animals, and situations terrify me.
  • I have trouble finding energy and motivation.
  • I have a hard time sleeping.
  • I don’t have anything to look forward to.
  • I find it difficult to relax.
  • I tremble and sweat in difficult situations.
  • Things that I used to appreciate no longer spark my curiosity.
  • I dread the next anxiety episode.
  • I find it difficult to focus and make judgments.
  • I try to avoid doing things that I know I should do because they make me nervous.
  • It is difficult for me to keep my worries in check.
  • I am really nervous in some social situations, and I try to avoid them if I can.
  • I don’t have high hopes for anything.
  • Memories of prior trauma keep surfacing in my thoughts.
  • I’m frightened of failure, so I avoid taking risks.
  • I’m always on the safe side when it comes to decisions.
  • I have a strong desire to repeat actions (such as hand washing, checking locks, arranging things in a certain way, and so on).

How many did you check off? Is it 5? Is it 8? But if you checked more than 10 items, you have anxiety and you should consider taking action to solve your problem. 

You must first determine how anxiety or depression impacts your thinking, behaviour, emotions, mental wellbeing, and body sensations. Once you figure out how your troubles start, you will know what you can do about it. Accept that you are not too responsible for your situation. If you’re stuck or can’t seem to move forward, we will provide you with ways for conquering your anxiety challenges. 

This blog is a guide to anxiety: What is anxiety, what is the anxiety cycle, why we feel it, the causes of anxiety, the symptoms of anxiety, how we experience it when it comes, and what we can do if we find ourselves in the midst of it.

Simplifying Anxiety: What is Anxiety?

One day while you’re travelling to work, you suddenly worry if you turned off the stove. You mentally retrace your actions from earlier in the day, but you still can’t recall shutting it off. Maybe you did…but what if you didn’t? As the vision of the house catching fire flashes through your mind, your fear grows. The car in front of you slams on the brakes at that precise moment. You grip the steering wheel tightly and slam on the brakes hard, coming to a complete halt just in time. Your entire body is flooded with energy, and your heart is racing, but you’re safe. You take a few deep breaths in and out.

That was dangerously near!

Anxiety seems to be all around us. If you think about the events in the scenario above, you’ll note that they demonstrate two very different ways that anxiety starts: through our thoughts and through our emotions to our surroundings. This is due to the fact that anxiety can be triggered by two different parts of the brain: the cortex and the amygdala. Years of research in the subject of neuroscience, which is the science of the structure and function of the nervous system, including the brain, has led to this conclusion.

Now coming to what is anxiety

Anxiety is disturbing anticipation of a potentially dangerous event that might or might not even happen. It’s a negative affect (feeling) that’s so similar to fear that the two names are often used interchangeably. Fear is a mixture of anxiety and fear. Although there are distinctions to be made between the two types of anticipation, fear and anxiety have various sources, durations, and maintenance. In a strict sense, fear is a term used to describe an emotional response to a perceived threat, a threat that can be identified, such as a deadly snake. Most fear reactions are strong and carry the feel of a crisis. On the other hand, anxiety can linger for a long time and nag at the back of your mind for days and months.

When a person is apprehensive, he or she has trouble determining the source of the unsettling tension or the nature of the upcoming event or calamity. For the person experiencing the emotion, it can be perplexing. Anxiety is diffuse, objectless, unpleasant, and persistent in its purest form. It is not as clearly determined as fear. It is frequently unpredictable and unmanageable. Fear tends to have a limited rise and fall in time and space, whereas anxiety is pervasive and persistent, with ambiguous onset and offset points. It appears to be present practically all of the time, as if in the background. I always have the feeling that something terrible is going to happen. Anxiety is a state of increased vigilance rather than a fearful condition.

Anxiety Cycle

Anxiety is one of the most fundamental emotions that humans experience. When uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety arise, we either ‘fight or flight’ which is a physiological reaction to stress and fear. In other words, we try to avoid the source of our anxiety. This is a good temporary band-aid but it is not viable in the long run because anxiety tends to come back in a worse state than before. So now the question is how does this anxiety cycle work? What happens when we are faced with anxiety?

Stage1: The anxiety cycle begins with the feeling of anxiousness. So at the first step when we are faced with fearful circumstances, we feel anxious. 

Stage 2: When anxiety hits us, we move to the second stage of the anxiety cycle where we start doing things that will reduce our anxiety. This stage is called the avoidance stage of the anxiety cycle. People occasionally attempt to reduce their worry by avoiding the scary circumstances entirely. Because you haven’t put yourself in a stressful position, this avoidance immediately reduces anxiety. 

Stage 3: Then the third stage begins. The short-term relief stage of the anxiety cycle. Due to avoidance, we get instant relief and we think that we have moved past our anxiety and stress. However, while avoidance alleviates anxiety in the short term, it exacerbates anxiety in the long run.

Stage 4: This is the final stage of the anxiety cycle, where we reach long-term anxiety. The threat scanning, physical symptoms become more intense, attention narrows and switches to self. At this step, anxiety becomes a catastrophe and persists with us for a long period.

It is a vicious cycle: the more we strive to escape it, the more it returns. As a result, the anxiety cycle is a process in which a person avoids their concerns, and as a result, those anxieties become more intense. It becomes increasingly difficult to resist avoidance, and the anxiety worsens. Let us now look at the causes of anxiety.

Causes of Anxiety

Anxiety is like a smoke detector. Smoke detectors go off whenever there is smoke, not just when there is a fire. Perhaps you would have had a false alarm in your home because you burned a toast in the kitchen. The issue is that whether there is a real fire or a false alarm, smoke detectors emit the same noise. Anxiety operates in the same way: it can make you feel nervous while you’re in danger, but it can also make you feel anxious when you think you’re in danger but aren’t. So anxiety goes off when there is danger or even when there is a sense of danger. 

So now the question arises: what causes this anxiety? There are no proven causes of anxiety but experts say that there can be some. Below are some of the causes of anxiety:

  • Medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disorders, etc.
  • Environmental or situational factors like stress at home, or at the office, stress in relationships, and even in friendship.
  • Heredity, sometimes anxiety is caused as a result of our genes.
  • Withdrawal from alcohol or due to side effects of some drugs.

Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents are frequent, and they make up the greatest group of mental health issues that children face. They can have a major impact on day-to-day functioning, developmental trajectories, educational success, friendship formation, and family relationships. Many anxiety disorders persist and, if left untreated, can lead to issues and trauma later in life.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety is the umbrella term for a wide range of physical symptoms that people encounter when they are stressed, there is a sense of danger, or they are threatened in some way. There can be many symptoms of anxiety. Some of these symptoms of anxiety can include racing heart, sweating, and trembling, changes in breathing, stomach issues (ranging from stomach butterflies to nausea), sweating, trembling, or shaking, hot flushes or cold shivers, or general symptoms of exhaustion, dizziness or light-headedness, as well as restlessness or jumpiness. This is the body’s system for responding to dangers. This system that detects threats is also known as the fight-or-flight reaction, and it does precisely what its name implies: it fights or flees. It prepares you to resist a threat or to flee or run away from it. 

Types of Anxiety

Specific Phobia

Excessive anxiety and irrational dread of a specific object or circumstance characterise specific phobia. People have phobias about everything from spiders to needles to clouds in virtual reality.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety is characterised by a great fear of social situations. While it may appear to be a specific social phobia, it differs from phobia in a number of ways.

Panic Disorder

People who suffer from panic disorder are frequently struck by bouts of fear that appear out of nowhere and have a clear and sudden onset.

Agoraphobia

While it may sound like a specific phobia, agoraphobia is essentially about avoiding areas where we believe it would be extremely dangerous to panic (or where we believe it would be extremely embarrassing).

The most common psychiatric disorders are anxiety disorders.

Now that we know the different types of anxiety, the question is how likely are people to experience major anxiety at some point in their lives?

  • 18% of people have a specific phobia.
  • 13% will suffer from social anxiety.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder will affect 9% of the population.
  • About 7% of people will suffer from panic disorder.
  • 4% of people will suffer from agoraphobia.

Women are 70% more likely than men to suffer from anxiety disorders. Specific phobias have the highest gender disparity, while social anxiety disorder have the smallest. These are some rather alarming numbers, and quite shocking as well. But what can we do? Can we treat anxiety? The answer is yes! 

How to Overcome Anxiety– It’s Time to Become Your Own Coach 

Get Started and Set up Goals: 

How to overcome anxiety? To begin, figure out what is causing your anxiety and keeping you stuck. The idea is to begin with the areas of your worry that are causing you the most trouble. Panic, fear of an object, or social situations are all possibilities. It could be PTSD, as well as issues with recollections of a traumatic event in the past that is causing harm to your mental health. Obsessions and compulsions could be the cause. It’s critical to ask yourself, “What are the most distressing and interfering components of my anxiety problem?” Determine the solution to this question.

The main purpose is to let go of your anxiety and provide you the freedom to live your life as you desire, allowing you to achieve your own goals. As a result, think about your specific goals while determining which anxiety reactions you wish to change. 

Try this…What are your short- and long-term objectives for yourself? 

Complete the following sentences to help yourself understand. Try to picture what you’d like to do if fear and anxiety wasn’t a constraint for each sentence: 

I’d like to see myself in the future…

In a year’s time, I’d like to…

I’d like to… in eight weeks.

I would… if I wasn’t so worried about…

You’re now ready to discover how to adjust the anxiety responses that have the greatest influence on your life. Keep an eye on the responses. Use these goals to influence your growth, and include particular things that aren’t on your list but that you want to be different in your life.

Identify your Pattern: 

Consider a recent incident in which you experienced a wave of unpleasant feeling or were anxious for a few moments. Consider where you were and what was going on at the moment. Visualise it as clearly as possible. Now describe the event that precipitated the shift in attitude.

Also, write about the emotion(s) you experienced.

Take note of any thoughts that came to mind at the time. Are there any specific thoughts that you can think of that could explain the mood you’re experiencing? Make a list of your observations.

You’ll probably notice recurring themes when you record your own thoughts and emotions throughout the next week. When a triggering event “pushes the button,” it’s as if our mind is a jukebox with only a few “hits” to play over and over. The kinds of ideas we have will be directly tied to our particular anxiety experiences. You can get to the core of the problem once you’ve identified the repeating thoughts.

Break the Pattern: 

Now you must look for proof for and against our ideas, and we must be as open to all accessible information as possible. If our thoughts are skewed toward the negative, we are already missing out on important information. We can allow this bias to dominate our efforts to break negative thought patterns if we’re not careful. It’s not about lying to ourselves or ignoring our flaws when we challenge our thoughts. If we try to fool ourselves, we’re smart enough to see right through it. Accepting our flaws and not hating ourselves for being totally human is an important aspect of this discipline. Finally, we may learn that we have anxiety beliefs that do not stand up to scrutiny.

Manage Your Time and Task: 

The next step is to manage your time and task to get back to your real self. Identify all the tasks that you need to complete and do it within a short span. Manage your sleep, eat healthy, and work mindfully. The key is to make sure to utilise the most of your time. To do this you can start by the following exercise.

 Determine your responsibilities. Make a decision about what you need to do.

Make a list of your chores and prioritise them. Determine where to begin based on the deadlines.

Schedule when you’ll finish your tasks. Each task should have its own time slot on your calendar.

Keep track of what you’re supposed to do and when you’re supposed to do it. Nothing is more vital than completing the task at hand.

Face your Fear: 

Fear arises from the belief that something is unsafe. Exposing ourselves to the situations that trigger our fear is the most efficient method to overcome it. As a result, this therapy method is known as exposure. Exposure therapy is meant to confront circumstances that we are actually afraid of.

When we are confronted with a frightening circumstance and nothing horrible occurs, our brains receive new information about the situation. When we confront our concerns in this way, they fade away. In most cases, we don’t need to talk ourselves into feeling less fearful—just doing what we’re frightened of makes it easier.

Take an example. I had a fear of dogs and each time I used to come across one, I used to get anxious, expecting him to attack me. Every morning my neighbour walks her dog on her porch. Earlier I used to avoid coming out during that time. But then I started to go see him. At first, I used to get anxious but now it is easier. Now I have reached that stage where now I can even pet him.

Write a Eulogy to your Anxiety: 

It’s time now. You are ready. 

Write a eulogy. Your anxiety is dead now. You are free. It’s time to bid farewell and speak a few good words about your fellow companion. It’s time you realise that even though it was a problem, it used to help you sometimes, to escape certain situations, to help you figure out your frights, etc. So, here’s a crucial question. Is anxiety really your worst enemy? What if you approached anxiety with compassion and kindness rather than a declaration of war?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the distressing expectation of a potentially dangerous occurrence that may or may not occur. It’s a negative affect (feeling) that’s so similar to fear that the two are frequently confused. Anxiety and terror combine to become fear. Fear and anxiety have different sources, durations, and maintenance, notwithstanding the distinctions between the two types of anticipation.

What is the anxiety cycle?

It’s a vicious cycle: the harder we try to break free, the more it pulls us back in. As a result, the anxiety cycle is a process in which a person avoids their worries, which causes those worries to grow more intense. The anxiety worsens as it becomes more difficult to resist avoidance.

What are the causes of anxiety?

Medical diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disorders, and others are some of the reasons of worry.

Stress at home or at work, tension in relationships, and even stress in friendship are all examples of environmental or situational issues.

Anxiety can be produced by heredity, and our genes can play a role in this.

Withdrawal from alcohol or as a result of medicine adverse effects.

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

A racing heart, sweating, and trembling, changes in breathing, stomach difficulties (ranging from stomach butterflies to nausea), sweating, trembling, or shaking, hot flushes or cold shivers, or general weariness, dizziness, or light-headedness are some of the signs of worry.

How to overcome anxiety?

Get your goals fixed.

Determine your Pattern

Break the Cycle

Time and Task Management

Face your phobia

Compose a eulogy for your anxiety.

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