Anxiety is a normal human emotion. However, some people find themselves worrying or feeling anxious so often that it interferes with their day-to-day life.
If you experience anxiety, you feel worried about many things. You worry about your finances, your family, your car, your pets, literally anything can cause concern. Sometimes even thinking about how to get through your day makes you feel anxious.
Anxiety disorders range from generalised anxiety disorder through to panic attacks, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Although it may sometimes feel like anxiety controls us, there are things you can do and skills you can learn, to overcome it.
Generalised anxiety disorder is the most common type of anxiety disorder. This is when people are extremely worried about things or overwhelmed with anxiety and fear – even when there is little or no reason to worry about them.
What to look for
People with generalised anxiety disorder will usually:
- expect the worst
- worry excessively about money, health, family or work, when there are no signs of trouble
- be unable to relax, enjoy quiet time, or be by themselves
- avoid situations that make them anxious
- be irritable
- have constant worries running through their head
- have difficulty concentrating or focusing on things
- feel edgy, restless or jumpy
- suffer from stomach problems, nausea, diarrhoea
- suffer from poor sleep
- need to know what’s going to happen in the future.
There's a range of treatments available to you but the first step is talk with your GP, who will discuss these with you and together you can decide which is best for you.
How can you look after yourself?
How we live, eat, work, relax and react are very important to reducing anxiety in our lives. The following are some of the things you can do to take control and reduce anxiety building.
Regular exercise, such as walking, swimming or running, works wonders to reduce stress and tension. Being physically active for 30 minutes a day or more is one of the best things you can do for improving your mental and physical health. It will improve your mood, energy levels, immune system, reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease and many more besides.
Smoking & alcohol
Smoking and alcohol have been shown to make feelings of anxiety worse. Aim to reduce your drinking to a maximum of 1 or 2 drinks per day. If you smoke, talk with your doctor/nurse or call QuitLine for advice, support and nicotine replacement therapy.
Relaxing also helps. Find ways to learn relaxation and breathing exercises or try yoga, pilates or tai chi.
Check what you are eating. Too much caffeine, sugar or fast food can upset your system. Caffeine and energy drinks can disrupt sleep, speed up your heartbeat and increase anxiety. Try eating regular meals, a healthy breakfast, more fruit and vegetables, and less processed foods.
Build a support network
Build your support network – a few people you can go to when things are tough. There are also a range of support organisations. Some offer face-to-face meetings where you can talk about your difficulties and problems with other people. Many provide support and guidance over the phone or by email. Ask your GP about local support groups for anxiety in your area or look up online through links below.