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What is Anxiety and how do I handle it?

You can overcome your Anxiety!

Recent UK figures show that approx 1 in 5 adults are diagnosed with Anxiety and about 1 in 8 are medicated for this. On a global scale this is a growing problem and it seems that we have forgotten that part of being human is being with uncertainty, unpredictability, limits and difficult choices, the consequences of which we have no efficient and safe way to predict.

Anxiety is real. It affects each person uniquely and is always a manifestation of something that we find difficult and distressing. It is so much about our inner lived experience and has absolutely nothing to do with objective measures of success and a lot to do with subjective perceptions about our happiness, fulfillment and joy.

For example, anxiety can take hold of you because you are struggling with any number of issues such as those listed below:

- Self acceptance

- Dislocation

- Disconnection

- Alienation

- Meaninglessness

- Lack of choices

- Stuck-ness

- Hopelessness

- Fear

- Lack of control

- Endings

- Death

- The unknown

- Uncertainty

- Unpredictability

- Disruption

- Detachment

- Pain

- Physical illness

-Terminal illness

- Sudden death

- Abandonment

- Judgement

- Money troubles

- Bullying

- Racial abuse

- Abuse of any kind

- Exclusion

- Online bullying

....the list can go on and on.

Experiencing anxiety in response to any of these is a normal human thing. It is not you failing. It is definitely not weakness. But silencing, bottling it up, trying to pretend you can fake it till you make it, will do one thing for sure. Allow the problem to grow and intensify your anxiety symptoms.

What are Anxiety symptoms?

These are always personal and unique, so it is difficult to be too prescriptive about it but these are the most common symptoms of anxiety that people in therapy share:

- Feeling tense in the body, with a knot in the chest or the stomach

- Having sweaty palms

- Feeling cold and nauseous

- Feeling dizzy, short of breath, foggy

- Finding it difficult to get to sleep and often finding it really difficult to stay asleep with anxiety feelings waking you up

- Feeling overemotional or feeling really detached

- Feeling hyper or feeling the opposite; very lethargic

- Finding it difficult to concentrate

- Wanting to withdraw from relationships that matter to you

- Loosing your appetite

- Drinking too much

- Self medicating

- Wanting to break your routines and avoid going to work

- Feeling that catastrophe is upon you

- Feeling confused and overwhelmed

All are regular Anxiety symptoms and if you are coping with any of these, it is worth reflecting on how often you encounter them, and how you would scale them on a 1-10. 1 being nothing much at all 10 being all the time. This will give you an idea of where you are and if you need a bit of help.

Can I overcome Anxiety?

Yes you can - with appropriate guidance and support there is every reason to overcome it. If you need a helping hand that's no big deal! Most of us need help at some point in our life. This doesn't make you weak. It makes you strong because it means you are facing your Anxiety and in doing so you can but get stronger!

Starting to recognize your symptoms as Anxiety is one step towards your recovery. Hopefully this gives you a sense of agency. If not, think about what would be useful for you and prioritise it.

Monitoring your emotions is very powerful and will allow you to moderate them.

Getting into a mood journal routine is a powerful tool you have against your Anxiety. Every day, spend 5 mins to journal what your day has been like. Notice what you have found difficult. Express it and accept your feelings. You are entitled to them. Do not judge you for having them.

Is there something you did that contributed to your anxiety? What was it? Acknowledge it and let it go.

What is your anxiety trying to tell you? What is it really about?

Write down on a separate piece of paper what you found very anxiety provoking today. Read it. Accept it. Now rip it up and put in the bin. Tomorrow is another day where you can move forward with new learning.

Spend 3 mins writing down what would give you relief tomorrow. Notice what you need and plan it into your day.

If you are frightened of your feelings this is a sign that you may need some professional support. It is worth speaking to your GP to be referred for counselling or reach out to professionals.

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