Not to Worry
While anxiety can cause you to worry yourself sick, understanding it is the first step to confronting it
Worry is a normal part of our lives. And there are times when it can even be helpful. Ideally and up to a point, worrying about things like finances or family relationships can cause us to think seriously about them, and prod us to take appropriate steps to deal with them.
It’s possible, however, for our worries to become excessive, irrational, and uncontrollable, stealing much of the joy of our relationships, everyday activities, and accomplishments.
How to confront anxiety
By all means, seek professional medical help if your anxiety is seriously interfering with your work and personal or family relationships, or if it continues for several months.
Attempt cognitive distancing. With anxious thoughts, your mind is trying to protect you by predicting what could happen, but that doesn’t mean it will happen. Ask yourself if anything good could happen instead, and which is more likely based on past experiences and other information you may have.
Decide if a thought is helpful. Imagine you’re thinking of applying for a job, but only one person out of 50 applicants will get that position. That’s true, but if you concentrate on that thought, you may become demotivated and not even apply. Try instead to focus on thoughts that are helpful—like why you would be an outstanding applicant—and let the rest go.
Move! It’s amazing how much better you can feel after a morning’s 30-minute burst of exercise. Find some form of motion you enjoy or at least tolerate, do it 3-5 times a week, shed that anxiety, and face the coming day.
Suffering from this kind of worry for six months or longer is referred to as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Statistics reported by the National Institute of Mental Health indicate an estimated 5.7 percent of adults experience GAD sometime in their lifetime. It runs higher among females (3.4 percent) than males (1.9 percent), but according to Mayo Clinic specialists, there are particular factors that might increase your risk of developing GAD.
- Personality. A person having a timid or negative temperament or one who avoids anything dangerous may be more prone.
- Genetics. Anxiety disorders can run in families.
- Experiences. These include a history of significant life changes or traumatic experiences during childhood.
- Drugs or alcohol. Misuse and withdrawal can cause or worsen anxiety.
Physical signs and symptoms of GAD include:
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Nervousness or being easily startled
- Nausea or irritable bowel syndrome
- Sweating, trembling, feeling twitchy
With a little focus, much anxiety can be understood and dealt with. But if you’re having trouble, there’s no need to endure prolonged suffering—seek assistance from a qualified medical professional.
By David Buice