All About Anxiety
What actually is anxiety?
Anxiety is more than feeling stressed or worried. Although stress and worry are totally normal feelings and responses to different events in our life, people with anxiety suffer feelings of stress and worry in a way that negatively impacts their life on a daily basis even when triggers for stress are gone. It can interfere with people’s sleep, their concentration, ability to work, and their relationships with friends and family. People with anxiety often experience feelings of fear, obsessive thinking, and avoidance behaviour around potential or perceived triggers. Anxiety can also manifest in physical ways; nausea, heart flutters, chest pains and sweating.
If you think you may be suffering from anxiety, you are not alone! It is the MOST common mental health condition in Australia with at least ¼ people experiencing anxiety at some stage of their life
There are so many ways to help manage anxiety, and talking to your doctor is a great place to get more information about this. Here are some of the common ways to begin to manage anxiety;
Exercise is hugely important in the management of anxiety. It helps release nervous energy, stabilise mood, and improve sleep. Exercise of just 30 minutes a day has also been shown to be as effective in improving symptoms of mild depression, which is very frequent in those with anxiety.
Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants can raise the blood pressure and heart rate, making symptoms of anxiety worse. Cutting down on these things can really help the physical manifestations of Anxiety.
Mindfulness techniques are a great way to calm the sympathetic nervous system and the mind
Mindfulness techniques are a great way to calm the sympathetic nervous system and the mind, and is a big part of getting anxiety flares under control. This can be as simple as doing slow belly breathing for 1 minute, but there are many great mindfulness apps that can guide you through breathing and other meditation exercises specifically for anxiety. Headspace and Smiling Mind are a great place to start.
Even better than an app, is a trained psychologist. Psychologists use techniques like “Cognitive Behavioural Therapy” to help retrain your brain and body response to stressful situations. They can help unpack why you may have certain triggers and assist you in developing a skill set to manage and ultimately recover from anxiety. If you have medicare, you are eligible for a Mental Health Care Plan which gives you access to 10 medicare rebated psychology sessions a year (and at the moment since COVID-19 this can be increased to 20 sessions) – all you need to do is see your GP first!
For anxiety that isn’t improving despite all of the techniques above, medication can be a really effective option to get back in control of your mood and feelings, especially where anxiety is interfering with your work and social life on a daily basis. Low dose anti-depressants are used for anxiety, and work by helping to prevent anxiety attacks by improving the amount of positive neurotransmitters in the brain. If you think you may need medication to manage your anxiety, have a conversation with your doctor to chat about benefits, risks and side effects.