Oh Anxiety- Thou art a heartless bitch!

Anxiety is becoming so much more prevalent in the world each year – is it because life in the 21st century is lived at a speed so fast, not even the cheetahs can keep up? – you know… because cheetahs are really fast!

Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. On average, one in four people, being one in three women and one in five men, will experience anxiety at some stage in their life. In a 12 month period, over two million Australians experience anxiety.

Anxiety is a common factor in life these days, but the sooner people with anxiety get support and learn to deal with the disorder, the more likely they are to leave it in the past.

If you suffer from anxiety disorder, it’s important to remember you are not alone. There are services, health care professionals and online support tools available to help those that suffer from a anxiety disorder. The first step is to get a proper diagnosis. Discussing these issues with a doctor can help you in taking this first step.

The treatments for anxiety that work for you depend both on you and the type and severity of anxiety disorder you have. Mild anxiety may be helped by making lifestyle changes (diet, people/situations that occur in your life), whereas more severe cases may require medication – On that note, I will tell you that twice in my life I have required antidepressants to help me deal with my own life at that particular time. Once was from a break-up that ruined my life for years and the second time was when I was pregnant with my second child and had a lot of family issues happening.

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) involves working towards changing any problematic thinking patterns that are causing anxiety. Behaviour therapy is a component of CBT and includes ‘desensitisation’, a method of slowly and safely exposing you to feared situations to reduce the anxiety that comes with them.

Breathing and relaxation techniques are especially important for physical symptoms, and deep breathing exercises can stop panic attacks effectively. Mindfulness and other types of meditation are also helpful for anxiety management.

Exercising – even a 10-minute short walk – can help to improve how you feel and may make you feel less tired. Exercise helps boost your levels of serotonin – these are ‘feel good’ hormones. Try a brisk walk every day if you do not feel ready to undertake a rigorous exercise regime. Try to get involved in activities and pastimes you previously enjoyed – even if you don’t feel like it.

There may be small tasks in the house or garden that you can do. Tackling small tasks that you have been avoiding for years may help you to feel better about yourself.

Caffeine can increase anxiety in some people. It can alter your sleep patterns so you are not fully rested. It also speeds up your heartbeat, which can make anxiety worse. Try to reduce the amount of caffeine in your diet. Cutting back on tea and coffee and replacing them with water or fruit juices can help. Avoiding caffeine products, like chocolate, cola or energy drinks after 4pm may help you feel more relaxed when you want to go to sleep.

Treatment for anxiety can take time, and a good support network makes the process easier. But letting go of and recovering from anxiety is achievable.

Online tools may be suitable if you have mild to moderate anxiety. There is a range of different programs, most of which are backed up by phone, email, text or web chat support from a mental health specialist. These online therapies can be particularly helpful if you are living in a rural and remote area where access to health professionals may be more difficult.

It’s a frustrating routine: Your mind starts racing as soon as your head hits the pillow. You’re thinking about your to-do list, that thing you should (or shouldn’t) have said to your boss, or how expensive your child’s braces are going to be. Then you catch a glimpse of the clock, and realize how late it already is.

At some point it’s hard to tell whether you’re having trouble sleeping because you’re anxious, or you’re anxious because you can’t sleep. The answer may be both. It’s a two-way street: Stress and anxiety can cause sleeping problems, or worsen existing ones. But lack of sleep can also cause an anxiety disorder.

Still not sleeping? If you think that you might have more serious sleep problems, clinical anxiety, or clinical depression, talk to your doctor. A specialist can help you find a treatment plan, so you can manage your symptoms and get the sleep you need.

Julia Christina is from Vancouver, Canada. You can follow Julia Christina on YouTube or her blog at https://juliakristina.com/blog/ or on any social media platform – @juliacounsellor

Julia Holds an MA in Counselling Psychology and is a Registered Clinical Counsellor.

At any time, if you feel that you may harm yourself or have thoughts of suicide, talk to family or friends and inform your doctor as a matter of urgency. You can ring a phone service such as Lifeline 13 11 14, available 24 hours a day. If you are the loved one or carer, dial triple zero (000).

Aquo Xx

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