Media portrayals of anxiety has turned it into something exaggerated, but what people don’t notice that it can show through every day. Anxieties and stress can be triggered by work issues and personal problems, and when left unchecked, can make one spiral.
Anxiety is the brain’s way of telling us that we are being overwhelmed faster than we can handle, and that we need to slow down. Of course, it’s impossible to stop worrying about things altogether, but this anxiety can morph into chronic physical pains. Some even turn to dangerous substances just to quell the emotional weight of unchecked stress.
Feeling anxious vs anxiety disorder: what’s the difference?
Most of the signs overlap, but the easiest way to tell the difference is in how long it takes for the anxious feelings to settle. Normal feelings of anxiety can last for a few hours to a day (think anticipating a big meeting, or a call from your doctor regarding some test results), while a clear sign of having an anxiety disorder is for these feelings to last for months to years. In some cases, anxiety disorders can show physical effects like an upset stomach, dizziness, or difficulty breathing.
There is more than one anxiety disorder, and it can be confusing to tell which one you might be struggling with. In the case of the latter, it would be best to seek professional diagnosis and ask for further support through help lines.
Changes you can make to help ease this:
- Prioritize yourself. Put yourself at the center of your day. Managing your mental wellbeing must be your priority. When was the last time you took a self-care day? If you can’t answer that, then maybe you might need one more. Love knitting? Spend a day working on a sweater with a cup of tea and a great podcast. Take a walk and look up at the sky, watch the trees sway overhead, and get yourself some ice cream. You are not your best self when you’re anxious, so take some time to refocus on self-care.
- Cut back on the caffeine. Drinks like coffee and soda can help give you energy when you need it, but too much of it can make you crash later in the day. Having too much caffeine in your system can speed up your heart rate to an unhealthy level which can make worries seem magnified, making you feel worse. Swap out caffeine with water and see how well your mood improves.
- Slowly declutter your space. Seeing things messy in a place where you go to relax will only make you feel worse. Clutter is a visual representation of how overwhelmed you are, and the difficulty of moving around a messy home can be frustrating. Declutter your home one room at a time, and throw away what you don’t need. You can even donate some items to your local charity. Decluttering is also a way to ease your mind into letting go of your worries in a physical sense.
- Be mindful of your expenses. Finances can contribute to a bulk of everyday stress. With the economy in a dip because of a global pandemic, some people are a hospital visit away from being hard up. Worrying about financial hardships can drive anyone up the wall with anxiety, so it’s wise to mind where your money goes. Take a look at your records and transactions and see which ones you can wean yourself off of, like a fancy cup of coffee or weekly visits to a shop.
Having an anxiety disorder is rough, and it feels like living life with an invisible handicap. But some lifestyle changes can help you alleviate the stress of living through such uncertain times. When it gets too unbearable, please don’t be afraid to seek the help of a licensed professional.