From experience, we all encounter feelings of anxiety. It can be described as a sense of uneasiness, worry, fear, dread or nervousness in a person relating to something that is about to happen or to something that may happen.
The feelings that we get that associated with anxiety can be quite mild, but they can also be quite intense. Of course, this is dependent on the situation the person finds themselves in and the kind of person that they are.
Most of us will have to deal with feelings of anxiety when faced with things that are unfamiliar or new to us. Plus these feelings will arise when we are faced with a situation that proves to be challenging. The kinds of situations that could cause such feelings to occur would be when taking a test or going for an interview, even going out on a date for the first time can lead to you feeling more anxious than is normal. Even though these situations don’t place any physical threat on our lives that can still cause us to feel “threatened” because we are worried that we are going to make a mistake.
As anxiety made us much more alert and focused so that we can head off any potential problems that may come our way, suffering from a little anxiety can help us to do better in certain situations. However, if the feelings are too strong, then there is a risk that they can interfere with what we are trying to do. In fact, if one is feeling too anxious there is everything possibility that one will feel completely overwhelmed even when faced with a simple task or situation and are not able to do what is required of them.
In fact what you feel when you are anxious is a completely normal and natural human reaction that not only involves your mind but also your body. It is a very important function that helps us to survive. It is, in fact, our body’s alarm system that becomes active when we perceive that we may be in danger or threatened. When we perceive that we may be in danger, then certain physical sensations occur.
When we feel anxious, our hearts beat faster, and our breathing becomes much more rapid. Furthermore, our muscles will start to become tense, and we feel nauseous, and we start to sweat a lot more especially from the palms of our hands.
Plus of course, we tend to find that our hands and legs begin to tremble. All of these sensations we are feeling are part of our body’s mechanism to protect us from anything we consider to be dangerous. The sensations we are feeling when anxious are caused by our bodies producing excess amounts of adrenaline and other chemicals that can then help us to move away from the danger we sense as quickly as possible.
These sensations occur very quickly as soon as we sense we may be in danger. However what you need to be aware of is that the thinking part of our brains (the Cortex) needs time to process and evaluate the situation to determine if the threat is for real or not and then determines how best to handle it. Normally a signal will be sent from our brain that confirms that there is no real danger and we can relax once more.
Causes of anxiety
Anxiety is a troublesome experience which causes a lot of inconvenience and distress to the individual experiencing it. However, just like many other psychological problems, anxiety is also experienced on an average basis by most people. Only when anxiety becomes detrimental to an individual's quality of life that it becomes a matter of worry. Though anxiety is quite a common problem amongst many people, the causes of anxiety are yet more or less ambiguous. Anxiety is usually brought about by a combination of reasons that may be linked to one's body, mind or environment. Again, the risk of anxiety being a hereditary condition is also being considered to be a possibility.
In most cases wherein anxiety has roots in one's psyche, anxiety disorder is usually brought about by traumatizing events in life. These events may include loss of residence, death of a loved one, separation, etc. A great way to understand anxiety is to take a close look at phobia. When an individual suffers from a phobia, he/she harbors an unreasonable fear of situations which may not be as threatening in any rational way. Just like phobias, even anxiety can often be linked to a life event in the past but this, again, differs from person to person.
You may find your anxiety is caused by your brain chemistry. This could be due to a nutritional imbalance, a poor diet or perhaps too much sugar or caffeine. One thing that many people do not realize is that diabetes can also play a part in your anxiety. Even people without diabetes and end up having blood sugar spikes which result in mood swings. One way to deal with this is to limit your sugar intake and be sure to eat healthy snacks throughout the day to keep your blood sugar level stable. If you make sure, you are eating healthy you may find that your anxiety may be reduced.
Again, anxiety problems may also arise from physiological factors that lead to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Certain neurotransmitters such as GABA, serotonin, and norepinephrine are known to trigger anxiety in the brain. In patients suffering from anxiety problems, these responses are often triggered when there is no immediate threat. Similarly, other health related problems such as depression, anemia, and irregular thyroid functions can also lead to anxiety.
There is also always the possibility of drug or medication abuse that may lead to anxiety in an individual. All these factors, individual or clubbed together, may be responsible for causing anxiety.
Ways to incorporate diet and exercise and other strategies to support you and the importance of good supplements.
There are certain ways that you can use to help you manage your anxiety much more effectively. But before you can start using these techniques you need to identify the situation that is causing you to feel anxious initially. The most effective way of doing this as mentioned previously in this book is to keep a journal as to when your symptoms seem more prominent and what happens when your anxiety occurs.
You may not realize it at this time, but you do have the ability to be able to manage those events that are causing you to feel anxious. Once you have been able to identify the situation that is causing your anxiety, then you can start to use techniques that help you to solve the problem you are faced with and so help to resolve your anxiety.
How can diet and exercise help when it comes to anxiety
You may not realize this but what you are eating and drinking can be making your anxiety disorder symptoms much worse. Below we offer some advice about things you can do about your diet that could help you to manage your anxiety far more effectively in the future.
Tip 1 - Limit Your Caffeine and Alcohol Intake
What you need to remember is caffeine is a stimulant, as a result, it can help us to remain awake and alert. Plus it also produces the same psychological response in us that we would get when placed under any stress. If you limit your caffeine intake then, of course, you won’t feel so tense, and therefore you won’t feel so anxious.
The same also goes for drinking alcohol. Although you may think alcohol is helping you to manage your anxiety it only does so for a very short period. Then once the forces have worn off, you will find that your anxiety becomes even more pronounced.
Tip 2 – Avoid Refined Sugars and Simple Carbohydrates
Foods that contain refined sugars or simple carbohydrates contain certain properties that prevent your body from absorbing the kinds of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that your body needs to function properly. In turn what this then means that the body’s neurotransmitters won’t work as effectively at sending messages to the brain that help you control your emotions.
Tip 3 – Eat More Complex Carbohydrates
The reason why you should be eating foods that contain more complex carbohydrates is that these have certain properties within them that act as a tranquilizer as they help the body to increase the amount of serotonin produced by the brain. The kinds of foods that you should be eating as part of such a diet to manage anxiety are lots of fresh fruit and whole-wheat foods.
Tip 4 – Eat More Regularly
Rather than eating the usual three large meals a day, you should be aiming to eat say 5 to 6 small meals instead. The purpose of making this is that it will help to provide your body with the energy it needs to function properly. Also, you will find that you don’t feel so tired and so the risk of your anxiety levels becoming high are reduced. Plus you will find that eat small meals helps to regulate your blood sugar levels better, so you won’t feel as stressed.
Tip 5 – Drink Plenty of Water
Even if you become slightly dehydrated, you will find that this can lead to the levels of anxiety you are feeling becoming increased. So make sure that you drink as much as eight glasses of water each day. If you find drinking water on its own, a little boring then adds some fresh lemon or lime juice to liven it up a bit more for you.
When you feel anxious, you will notice that your breathing becomes much more rapid and shallow. Often as a result of this, you will start to feel light headed and confused. This is because there aren’t sufficient amounts of oxygen being passed to the brain to help it work properly.
However, there are certain breathing exercises that you may want to consider learning and which will help to relieve some of the symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. In turn, this will then help you to think more clearly and see that the situation you are in is not as dangerous as you first imagined.
The exercise we recommend that you try doing to help regulate your breathing when feeling anxious is as following.
To start with it is important that you time your breathing so you can see just how rapid it is. Only when you have done, this can you then do the following to help ensure that you get your breathing under control once more.
You need to breathe in through your nose for a count of 3 and say to yourself as you do “In, Two, Three.”
Now you need to breathe out through your nose again for a count of three, this time saying to yourself “Relax, Two, Three.”
When you are carrying out the steps mentioned above, you must make sure that you use your lower chest muscles (diaphragm) to help you breathe.
The reason for making sure that you use this particular muscle will help to ensure that more oxygen can get into your lungs. The problem is that when you become anxious, you forget to use this muscle, and that is why you begin breathing more quickly because each breath has become much shallower.
The best way to check if you are using your diaphragm when carrying out this exercise is to give a little cough so you can feel it being pushed out. Now place your hand over this area, and as you breathe in and out correctly, you should be able to feel it moving in and out as well.
It is important that you make sure that you keep repeating this exercise for between 2 to 3 minutes and then time your breathing once again. If you notice that your breathing hasn’t slowed down much then repeat the exercise again.
The great thing about this particular exercise is that you can do it anywhere without anybody else noticing you are doing it whenever you feel your anxiety levels increasing.
Most people who suffer from any anxiety attacks will find it difficult to relax. So knowing how to release tension in the muscles in the body is an important technique to know to help manage the symptoms associated with anxiety disorders more effectively. By learning how to relax you not only feel calmer mentally but also physically and in turn it will help you to gain control over your situation more effectively.
It is crucial when you use relaxation exercises as a way of managing anxiety you practice what you have been taught on a regular basis. If you do, you will find that you can relieve your anxiety at levels that you will find much more manageable. You can either seek professional help, or you can use some of the exercises discussed below. It is important that as you carry out these exercises, you also carry out your breathing exercises as well.
You need to clench each hand (one at the time) tightly for a few seconds as you breathe in. When you do this, you will feel the muscles in your forearm become tense. Now as you breathe out you should allow your clenched hand to relax. Once you have done this exercise with your right hand you should now do it again but this time with your left hand.
Another good exercise to do to help you become more relaxed is to tense the muscles in your stomach as you breathe in. Make sure that you make them as tight as possible before then breathing out again. As you do breathe out remember to allow your stomach muscles to become loose once more.
This particular exercise is one that can prove extremely effective in helping you to manage your anxiety much better. However, with this particular exercise, you require some space, as you will need to lie down on the floor. Once you are in a comfortable position as you breathe in you, need to bend your feet and toes towards your head as hard as you can. Then as you breathe out to let your feet and toes go loose. Now as you breathe in again rather than bending your feet and toes towards you, you bend them away from you. Hold this position for a few seconds before then allowing your feet and toes to become relaxed once more.
It is important that you don’t rush these exercises, as they will help to ensure that you are getting sufficient amounts of oxygen into your body to help the muscles become less tense.
Learning exercises that help you to manage your thoughts better are important as they help to get your mind away from the situation that is causing your anxiety levels to rise. There are numerous thought management techniques one can use these days that can help you to manage the symptoms associated with your anxiety disorder more effectively. For example, there are certain exercises that you can do that help to provide you with a distraction from what is making you feel anxious. Then there are those that are specifically designed to help you learn to ensure that when negative thoughts do begin to appear, you can redirect your mind into creating more positive ones. These are known as mindfulness techniques.
However one of the simplest thought management techniques you can use is that known as “thought replacement.” With this particular technique, you will be required to write down some coping statements that you then refer to when any worrying thoughts begin to appear.
Which type of thought management technique you may use will depend on what form of anxiety disorder it is you suffer from. The only person who can help you to determine which of these techniques is best for you is a qualified mental health professional such as a psychologist.
Try to incorporate as many of these things into your lifestyle as you are able. Work out a plan for yourself about how you will manage your day and what you will achieve in it. Though the above aspects are expected to be valuable and informative, they should not be interpreted as a replacement for individual advice from a health professional. You should seek professional assistance if your fatigue is sudden, extreme, and long-lasting or you fail to improve.