Dealing with anxiety

Do you ever worry? Do you notice your heart fluttering and your breath quickening? Do you get nerves before public speaking? Do you have any ‘rituals’ or ‘habits’ to get through stressful situations? 

If you answered yes to any of the above, chances are you know what anxiety feels like. In fact did you know that anxiety is the most common mental health issue experienced in Australia? On average, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will experience anxiety at some stage in their life.

It is important to acknowledge that feeling anxious is completely normal in many situations. In fact, it is your body’s way of signalling to you of a threat, resulting in tense feelings or experiencing physical sensations such as an increased heartbeat.

However, anxiety can become a problem when it interferes with your normal life activities and relationships. This occurs when your body disproportionately reacts to the presence or even absence of a threat. Experiences of this intensified and prolonged feeling of anxiety is known as an anxiety disorder.

Whilst at times it may feel like your anxiety can be hard to control, there are many strategies to help you to manage it. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Physical Activity – Moving around and doing some light exercise such as a 10-minute walk can help elevate your mood and improve wellbeing.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation – Muscle tension often occurs with anxiety. To reduce this, find a quiet place and close your eyes. Tense muscles starting from your toes to head for three seconds, then release quickly.
  • Slow Breathing – Your breathing becomes faster and shallower when anxious. This can unconsciously affect your normal breathing pattern overtime. With your mouth closed, count to three when breathing in and out to slow down the process.
  • Stay in the present moment – Anxiety causes you to worry about the future, where things have yet to happen. Try to stay grounded and focus on what is in front of you. Practising meditation or mindfulness may help with this.
  • Seek professional help – Speak to your GP or a psychologist who can help you obtain more information on anxiety and treatment options.

For more information about anxiety, feel free to check out these factsheets by Beyond Blue: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety and https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/treatments-for-anxiety/anxiety-management-strategies