In the last few decades, the world has seen a steady rise in the reported number of people with anxiety disorders, with some wondering if this mental disorder has become an epidemic. According to a World Health Organization 2015 report, an estimated total of 264 million people in the world live with some form of an anxiety disorder.
Here at home, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada in (2016), more than one in 10 Canadians over the age of 18, have reported having a mood or anxiety disorder, and 3.5 million Canadians use health services to treat this particular condition. Out of this number, 258,000 are children and youth.
Anxiety is, of course, a natural reaction for all humans to certain stressful situations and encounters. However, those diagnosed with an anxiety disorder have such varying degrees of anxiety that it causes significant distress and a degree of functional impairment in their daily lives.
People diagnosed with an anxiety disorder may find it challenging to be comfortable with social interactions, family relationships, work, and/or school. This anxiety can manifest in physical symptoms, including quickened breathing, clenched body parts, a rigid body, headaches, nervous movement, or even diarrhea and nausea.
Anxiety disorder is an umbrella term for a variety of mental disorders characterized by feelings of anxiety and fear, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder (SAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
For many, an anxiety disorder is coupled with depression or substance abuse.
Certain behaviours and actions can help feed anxiety. Being aware of your behaviours and reactions can help you can reduce the feeling.
WHAT TO AVIOD
Focusing on a problem.
Focusing on a problem only makes things worst. If you are going to focus on an issue, try thinking of the problem or issue in a positive light and find different ways to cope with it. Do you have the resources to deal with the problem? What skills do you have to take control of the situation?
Worst-case scenario thoughts.
These are having thoughts regarding the worst-case scenarios taking place in certain situations. You need to ask yourself, what are the chances it will indeed happen to you? The reality is that the worst-case scenario will most likely not occur. Try to keep your thoughts positive.
Letting the anxiety control your life.
Remember, you are at the helm when it comes to your life. Try not to let anxiety control you. If you feel that you are struggling with anxiety, visit a health care professional, where you can receive help to develop the tools to manage your feelings of anxiety.
Excuses for Limiting Self-Care
A detrimental side of anxiety is to make excuses to yourself on why you cannot eat healthy, exercise, or sleep properly. Take note when you are listing off reasons why you cannot go for a walk, sleep seven to eight hours a night or consume junk food and not eat properly.
Consuming Foods & Drinks that will Make You More Anxious/Hyper
Be conscious of what your eating and drinking. Alcohol can begin as a friend to keep your anxiety at bay, but it can turn on you and cause more strife in your life. If you have stomach issues, powering up on caffeine by drinking coffee or energy drinks is not a solution.
STRATEGIES TO CONTROL ANXIETY
Learn What Triggers Your Anxiety
By doing this, it will help you to understand your reactions to anxiety-provoking situations. Once you learn this, you can put a plan in place to reduce your feelings of anxiety. Deep breathing. Breathing deeply in and out is a sure way to calm yourself down from feeling overwhelmed due to your anxiety.
In simple terms, mindfulness brings you to the present moment, allowing you to not fret over the past or worry about the future.
Keep it Positive
Trash the negative self-talk and use kind and positive words when talking about yourself, or for the self talkers out there, to yourself. Recognize and acknowledge you are doing your absolute best all the time, realizing your best changes day to day.
Face the Fear
Fear is a limiting emotion that often can be described as false evidence appearing real. If an activity or situation causes you anxiety, try moving through it. If you need to have a difficult conversation with someone, practice what you want to say with someone you trust. If a task, situation, or project has become overwhelming, break it down on paper by making a list of what you need to do to complete the overall project. Breaking down a problem into steps can alleviate feeling overwhelmed.
Ask for Help
Talk to your health care professional about how you are feeling, along with asking for a referral to see a psychologist your health care provider may have alternate solutions to help.
Get your Z’s
Ensure you have a good night’s sleep. Having healthy sleep hygiene is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. If you have trouble falling asleep, try limiting screen time before bed or eating a large snack or meal before you go to bed.
Walking, running, and getting outdoors moving can benefit your mood significantly. Studies have shown exercise boosts your mood. While you are exercising, your body releases chemicals that can improve your mood, make you feel more relaxed, help with stress, and reduced depression.
Eat Healthy Foods
There are many benefits to eating healthy: weight loss, preventing cancer, and heart health are just a few. Having healthy eating habits also help with your mood. A study in 2016 found a diet high in refined carbohydrates: soft drinks, cakes, and white bread increased symptoms of depression and fatigue.
With it being the holiday season, it may not be unfolding the way you imagined. Practicing gratitude, being grateful for what you have, and not focusing on what you don’t will alleviate anxiety and stress by leaving you feeling at ease.