Anxiety can be a normal "alarm system" alerting you to danger. Imagine coming home and finding a burglar in your living room. Your heart beats fast. Your palms get sweaty. Your mind races. In this situation, anxiety can provide an extra spark to help you get out of danger. But sometimes anxiety can be out of control, giving you a sense of dread and fear for no apparent reason. This type of anxiety can disrupt your life….
  • A state of uneasiness and apprehension, as about future uncertainties
  • A state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a realistic or fantasized threatening event or situation, often impairing physical and psychological functioning

 Is it anxiety?

Does your anxiety interfere with your everyday life? More days than not, do you…

...feel restless?

...feel easily fatigued or distracted?

...experience muscle tension or problems sleeping?

...feel sad or depressed?

...feel disinterested in life?

...feel worthless or guilty?       

 

What are some physical symptoms?

  • increased heart rate
  • headaches
  • cold fingers
  • dry mouth
  • difficulty swallowing
  • butterflies in the stomach
  • intestinal disturbances (e.g. excess gas, diarrhea, constipation, cramping)
  • hyperventilation
  • poor concentration
  • fatigue
 If these symptoms are present, it could indicate one of three things (you should consult your physician for an accurate diagnosis):
  1.  a physiological disorder in which treating physical problems removes symptoms
  2.  a minor psychological problem in which physical symptoms are increased during anxious periods
  3.  a psychological disorder in which there is no apparent reason for the physical symptoms

What are some anxiety-provoking situations?

  • speaking in front of an audience
  • job interview
  • shopping/eating/drinking in public places
  • uinating in public restrooms
  • attending or giving a party
  • joining ongoing conversations
  • talking with people you do not know well or at all
  • initiating conversations
  • expressing opinions/disagreement
  • making mistakes in front of others
  • doing anything while being observed (such as working or writing)
  • asking personal questions
Four traits that perpetuate anxiety  (from the Anxiety & Phobia Workbook, Bourne, 1995)
“People who are prone to anxiety…tend to share certain personality traits…such as creativity, intuitive ability, emotional sensitivity, empathy, and amiability. Other common traits tend to aggravate anxiety and interfere with the self-confidence of people.”
  1. perfectionism
  2. excessive need for approval
  3. tendency to ignore physical and psychological signs of stress
  4. excessive need for control
 What can I do about anxiety? The moment you are feeling anxious,you can:
  • Listen to yourself. Listen to what your mind is telling you. Challenge any negative thoughts. Pay attention to the physical symptoms you are experiencing.
  • Practice natural breathing. Breathe through your nose. While inhaling, fill the lower part of your lungs first (which will push your abdomen out as you inhale), then fill the upper part of your lungs (which will cause your chest to expand). Hold for a few seconds, then exhale slowly and relax your abdomen and chest.
  • Find a neutral place or thought or choose a pleasant task to occupy your conscious thoughts. This will distract you from the anxiety and help you relax.
  • Practice other breathing techniques, guided imagery, or progressive muscle relaxation techniques. Regular practice of deep relaxation for 20-30 minutes a day will generalize relaxation to the rest of your life, and you will feel more relaxed all the time. (Detailed brochures can be found at the Counseling Center on all three of the preceding topics.)
  • Get regular exercise. This can reduce pent-up tension and help your body process excess adrenaline faster. Exercise also has the added benefit of reducing depression and increasing your feeling of well-being.The most important thing you can do when having symptoms is talk them over with your physician.
If you or someone you know is having difficulties with anxiety, or if you just need to talk with someone, the Counseling Center is here to help.