What is anxiety?
Anxiety is very common and not entirely negative. It can be a supportive presence that drives the need to study, work, or live. Moderate levels of anxiety can also be effective in survival because anxiety is a normal physiological response when faced with a threat.
Therefore, anxiety is commonly experienced in everyday life, especially during events that are of great significance, such as:
Introduction to new environment
Failing to reach a goal
- Interpersonal tensions
Entering different stages of life
- Taking exams
In these cases, it is natural to be concerned about sleep or appetite loss, or inability to concentrate. However, these worries usually dissipate after a period of time or when the event is over.
Anxiety can be understood through its physiological, cognitive, and behavioural aspects.
Anxiety can cause an individual to become sensitive to the environment around them. For example, small noises can cause recurring sleep loss. Anxiety causes changes in physiological responses such as heartbeat, respiration, and endocrine functions. Genetic factors may also influence how sensitive the body is to the environment.
Example: When faced with high levels of pressure, Charlie exhibits anxiety like his parents. On the eve of a final exam, his heart rate would speed up and his breaths would quicken, making him more nervous.
Cognitive anxiety involves a person's subjective feelings and perspectives. Examples include excessive worry, inability to calm down, intolerance of uncertainty, or repetitive negative thoughts.
Example: Julia starts to envision failure, embarrassment and criticism prior to giving a speech on stage. Her heart rate would speed up and her breaths would quicken, making her more nervous.
Avoidance and other assurance-seeking behaviours are often directly related to anxiety. For example, a person who feels uncomfortable may leave the premise or move towards a more reassuring environment to help alleviate anxiety. To avoid the anxiety of going out alone, an individual may choose to bring a friend along.
Example: Nathan refused to take part in any activities that required him to go on stage, and he did not want to practice his piano pieces before the practical exam. Instead, he played video games all the time to help him take his mind off the upcoming exam.
A person's daily anxiety often stems from negative thoughts about events that do not happen. If a person fantasizes about future events and perceives the outcome as negative (i.e., being threatened or hurt), this is more likely to cause anxiety.
Exacerbation of Anxiety
Although anxiety is a normal and necessary emotion, it becomes a problem when it begins to affect study, work or daily life. At this point, the advice and help of medical professionals can help alleviate the problem so it does not worsen.
Effective Ways to Manage Anxiety
At the personal level
1. Ease the physical effects of anxiety
When feeling anxious, try to reduce anxiety by calming the mind.
- Take deep, rhythmic breaths
- Analyze the situation by asking questions. For example: Who are you? Where are you? Why are you here?
- If a situation increases anxiety, relocate away from the source of anxiety.
- Find a secure, comfortable environment.
If the environment cannot be changed, or anxiety levels do not decrease after a change in environment, the following actions may help:
Look at the surrounding landscape
Feel the temperature
Observe something concrete
- Breathing exercises
- Muscle relaxation exercises
- Listen to music
- Write a diary
- Exercise (yoga, swimming, basketball, etc.)
Put yourself in a comfortable position (e.g., sit or lie down)
Note: Try different methods to find the most effective way(s) to help alleviate anxiety.
2. Talk to a trusted individual
When anxiety occurs, find a reliable and trusted family member or friend. Communicating to them about the discomfort and experience can help alleviate anxiety (video calls are a good alternative if face-to-face meetings are not possible).
3. Improve Knowledge
In addition to seeking the guidance of medical professionals, increasing the knowledge of the psychology behind anxiety and the understanding of oneself can help reduce anxiety.
How can family and friends help?
It can be challenging to watch someone you care about suffer from anxiety. Here are some tips you can use to help:
1. Listen and empathize
It is often normal for the individual experiencing anxiety to have difficulty describing an event in detail. In this case, identification techniques (e.g., affirmation of the communicator, expressing understanding and concern) can be used to help guide the individual to communicate more effectively.
When an individual suffering from anxiety describes an incident that has happened to them, listen patiently, respond in a timely manner, and by empathetic. Think about how you would want someone to help you in those situations.
There are three ways to respond to empathic responses:
Paraphrasing: Summarize and ask the individual if you understand their words correctly.
Example: "Sounds like it's because [...]which makes you feel [...] Is that right?"
Validating: Tell the individual that the feelings experienced are legitimate and understandable.
- Example: "Your feelings are completely understandable"
Normalizing: Tell the listener that the feelings experienced are normal and reasonable.
Example: “Anyone would feel the same way” Or, “It's perfectly normal for you to feel the same way”
2. Ask what assistance is needed
Asking an individual who already knows what supports are needed is a good way to empower the individual. Support can be shown through:
Booking an appointment with a medical professional
Providing company during meetings with medical professionals
Exploring other treatments together
Note: When anxiety affects the life, work, or study and an individual, even if it is sporadic, it is recommended for the individual to talk to a medical professional.
3. Avoid adding more pressure
After discussing a solution that works for the individual, go over the steps of the implementation one by one. However, be mindful that confronting a problem or coming up with a solution can additional stress and anxiety. Remember to stay calm and listen attentively.
Note: Please use the information above for reference only; please consult a medical professional.
Anxiety is related to the extension of psychological problems
There are several psychological diseases related to anxiety disorders such as: social anxiety, separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, selective mutism in children, and phobias.