In today's world, we are always on the go. Most people struggle to just switch off and relax. Even when we're away from our computers, our smartphones still get all our emails and messages. We juggle work, family, and household commitments.
For someone that struggles with anxiety, the constant worry while living in a busy world doesn't help. If you or a family member is living with anxiety, know that there is help, there is healing. Learning more about anxiety and how to treat it is the first step.
Types of Anxiety
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health problems worldwide with 1 in 13 people suffering from some form of anxiety globally. In Australia, 14% of the population struggles with anxiety in a given year, the majority being women. 45% of people in Australia experience anxiety at some point in their lives.
Anxiety comes in different forms and a person can suffer from more than one form. The five main types of anxiety are:
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Chronic anxiety, worry and tension often over small or unrealistic things in addition to actual stressors.
Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia): Being severely self-conscious or nervous in social situations, either in general or in specific situations like public speaking or being around new people.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): This occurs due to being exposed to a traumatic event such as a car accident, sexual assault, military combat, and natural disasters or even just the threat of harm. Women are more susceptible than men.
Panic Disorder: Random and unexpected panic (anxiety) attacks. Symptoms of a panic attack include heart palpitations, dizziness, chest pain, feeling breathless, or chest pain.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Obsessive thoughts and/or are compelled to carry out repetitive behaviours in an attempt to ease these obsessive thoughts, for example, counting, checking doors, or washing hands.
Living with Anxiety
It's hard to think that those in the public eye might have anxiety, but they are only human just as we are. One such person is singer-songwriter Adele. This woman with the amazing voice that mesmerises millions, struggles with anxiety.
Despite how talented and skillful she is, when it comes to performing, particularly in front of large audiences, she struggles with anxiety to the point where she has vomited. Because of her anxiety, she prefers to perform in front of smaller audiences at low-key events. This goes to prove that anxiety can reach you no matter who you are or how good you are at what you do.
When it comes to social anxiety, sufferers are sometimes stuck at home because leaving the house terrifies them. These individuals struggle to hold down a job outside the home due to an inability to cope at work. They are often lonely, as speaking to people is a major source of anxiety.
As for sufferers of panic attacks, the fear of an attack itself often stops sufferers from doing things that they would love to do since there is sometimes no warning. And those with OCD sometimes get judged by others which only worsens the anxiety and frustration they feel….
Tips for Treating Anxiety
Seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist is helpful if you can't get your anxiety under control. If you are struggling with the costs involved, try these resources:
Speak to a counsellor at your local church, synagogue, or mosque.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78
Your family GP can provide discounted access to allied health professionals, through the Mental Health Care Plan.
Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet (fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains such as brown rice, and if you eat meat include fish).
Exercise… it helps to get rid of excess cortisol (the stress hormone). Even walking is great.
When you are anxious, draw a 5-minute drawing depicting how you feel. It doesn't need to be perfect. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety.
Listen to relaxing music.
Schedule worry time, i.e. 15 minutes that you take to write down your worries each day and work through them.
Meditate or do breathing exercises. There is HUGE benefit to gain through immersion in these subtle practices.
Most of all, don't fight for control, this just makes it worse. Acknowledge it and let it pass.
You may also find it helpful to listen to this podcast by The Anxiety Coaches. Find what works for you.
The solution is not one-size fits all, because we are all different. But taking out some time each day to take care of yourself and your mental health is important. Even speaking to someone you trust can help. It's nothing to be ashamed of and you are not alone. There is help.