Worry, stress and anxiety are all a normal part of life. Our minds and our bodies are built to experience a certain amount of stress and recover from it quickly and effectively. Heart and breathing rates speed up to give you the push to accomplish some amazing things and then they slow down and the tension is released from your body.
How do you know if your stress and anxiety are at a level where you should seek help?
In our fast-pace world, anxiety is on the rise and more and more people are finding themselves struggling to enjoy their lives in the ways they thought they would. It is estimated that 18% of adults in the Western world suffer from an anxiety disorder in any given year. (Carolyn Daitch, Anxiety Disorders, 2011) Below you will find common symptoms of anxiety, some things to note in seeking help and some practical suggestions to try in managing your stress and anxiety on your own.
What are the symptoms?
Anxiety is a feeling of fear, apprehension or nervousness. Sometimes it is hard to pin down and it may surface as a generalized feeling of dread. There is a part of your brain that was created to constantly be on the lookout for danger. It has been crucial to the survival of the human race but, when out of control, it can severely limit your enjoyment in life. Having your mind bombarded by a series of “What-if” thoughts can ruin even the simplest activity and many of the things you were meant to enjoy.
Anxiety can result in physical symptoms such as chronic pain, stomach aches and upsets, tension headaches, fatigue and trouble sleeping. You may experience chest pains, shortness of breath and a rapid heart rate. It can lead to weight gain or weight loss. If it progresses you may find yourself feeling panicky in certain situations or having a panic attack. You may struggle with specific phobias, compulsive behaviours or experiencing social anxiety.
How do you know if you should seek help?
Because a certain amount of stress and anxiety are normal, you and the people that love and care for you are the best ones to consult with when it might be time to seek help. Here are some things to note:
- If at any point you are having thoughts of harming yourself or others, you should seek professional help immediately.
- If you are finding your worries or anxieties are taking over your life and having a negative impact on your daily life such as personal hygiene or scheduling necessary activities.
- If it is affecting your schoolwork or work
- If it is affecting your relationships, your social life, or your family
- If it is feeling out of control.
- If you find yourself doing things that you recognize as being not normal for you.
- If you find yourself relying on alcohol, drugs or other methods of self-medication to deal with your anxiety.
- If you try some of the ideas below but they don’t seem to make a difference.
Your first visit should be with a medical professional to rule out any underlying medical problems. They will be able to assess what you are experiencing and give you recommendations on how to deal with it. Ask whether your anxiety is at a level where a counsellor would be beneficial.
Things to try:
Anxiety tightens you up, gets your heart rate racing and speeds up your breathing. Your first response then is to work at calming yourself down.
- Get comfortable.
- Notice your breath and take deeper, slower breaths. Practice breathing exercises. (Note: For some people bringing attention to their breath is counterproductive. If you struggle with breathing, you will need to find other ways to calm yourself)
- Connect with your senses:
- What do you see?
- What do you hear?
- What do you smell?
- What do you taste?
- What is something you can touch?
What to expect if you see me:
First of all, you will find yourself talking to someone who has struggled with my fair share of anxiety. It embarrassing to mention how I skipped out of speech classes in high school. And then there’s the time when the pressure in my head caused a fantastic nose bleed while on stage. My ultimate stage moment was when I’ve passed out in front of a crowd. I know first hand how anxiety can disrupt your life! Thankfully, I’ve also learned the tools to effectively manage my anxiety so I can get my message across on a stage without causing a scene! I talk about this here because I will not talk about this in our session – that time is for you. Just know when it comes to anxiety messing up your life – I get it.
We will talk about what could be causing your anxiety. We will discuss your unique symptoms and work together to find ways to deal with anxiety when it is happening. We will look at your lifestyle and see where we can tweak and adjust to help lessen the incidences of anxiety. We will work together to help you not let anxiety limit what you are to be about in this world.
If you are ready to get a handle on your worry and anxiety and gain back a measure of control in your life, give me a call at 1-306-988-4880, send an email at trishwhite.ca or check out my online schedule: Schedule an Appointment