Ever been anxious before? Or at least, just really nervous about something? From experience I have had to learn to never be anxious for anything. I know...easier said than done. Why? Well because whats the point? We don't really know what the outcome would be of something, so why worry or why stress about it. I would get so anxious that I would get anxious about being anxious. I know crazy.
Those of us who get anxious about exams, job interviews, or just something big coming up, can relate...but whats are the key things to know about anxiety and what's the difference between just being nervous about something or clinically anxious. I want to pass along some things I learned about anxiety and how I used them to battle it.
What is anxiety?
Well, anxiety is pretty much a big umbrella of a group of disorders but I just want to focus here on something called "generalized anxiety disorder", because let's face it this is a blog post and lets cover one at a time, shall we.
Generalized anxiety disorder or GAD for short, is pretty much excessive worrying about, well, everything; thats why the term generalized. This tends to occur daily for more than 6 months! This type of anxiety is not related to something specific but again. Everything.
How does anxiety look?
Ever had difficulty concentrating or felt like you are just so hyper you want to jump off the walls? Or are you jumpy and fidgety all the time? Or lets try this...ever had to be watching or looking over you shoulder for someone or something? This is what doctors call, motor excitation. You could have some form of anxiety.
But here is a "strange" one, do you have problems sleeping and then during the day you are tired all the time? This can happen too. Want to read more on sleep check out my previous post on sleep hygiene.
Doctors use the Hamilton Anxiety Scale at times to diagnose anxiety but also to give it a scale like mild, moderate or severe.
How to battle it (up ahead)
When it comes to treating this guy...you need a combination for the bests results, also remember we are individuals which means talk to your doctor to come up with an individual plan. The following is a list of some of the best stuff to do, of if you are just feeling a bit anxious about something
I know it sounds kinda obvious that massages will reduce stress and make you feel better overall, but its true! Dr. Field director of Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine says that a month of weekly 20 minute massages lowered cortisol (stress hormone) levels by a good chunk (31% to be exact). So go get that massage you always wanted and try to keep it consistent.
Well this does it too and it helps with depression too! In a cross sectional study (fancy words for a bunch of studies combined) they found that exercise can protect you from the harmful effects of stress on your body and mind. It gives you like a shield against stress...because let's face it, life is full of stress. Look how stress free and happy these two look!
This is another very useful method to battle anxiety, it was originally used for depression but it was found to be pretty amazing for anxiety problems too. They teach you coping strategies (in combination of thoughts, feelings and behaviors) to target the problem and help you change what you keep worrying about...makes sense?
Since most of the time we get anxious about something we are rally blowing it out of proportion of the actual harm. It's like when you are freaking out because you have an exam coming up...but if you step back and look at your life as a whole and remember every single exam you took...well this becomes "just another one". See what I just did there? What ends up happening is you make this "giant problem", small. Easier to ride that wave!
Meditation and Prayer
Get that time in daily and meditate or pray! Studies have shown that these help increase a chemical that helps with pretty much being happy and relaxed, called GABA. This chemical is low in people who are anxious and stressed out or just overwhelmed. It also reduced the level of cortisol that hormone I talked about before...yea it causes stress.
Another very useful method is of course medications. Some of these are called SSRIs (these take several weeks to work), buspirone (can be used in combination with the SSRIs), venlafaxine (pretty good but can cause hypertension, insomnia, nervousness, sedation or sexual dysfunction) and even a group called benzodiazepines (these are used first until the SSRIs kick in, they shouldn't be used for a long time because you can become addicted to these). Again you have to talk to your doctor to figure out which of these if any, are good and safe for you.
Some herbs like kava plant have been shown to have some good effect on people with GAD. But be careful, if you take too much it can be toxic to your liver, causing hepatitis and liver failure...ain't no body got time for that!
Lets face it, I left this for last because I can't stress it enough how important sleep is and most of us take it for granted. If you are having trouble sleeping, go read my previous post on sleep!
You are going to thank me later...its so #basic but we don't do it. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (wow that was a mouth full) "Sleeping recharges your brain and improves your focus, concentration, and mood." You can also get more information at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website!