You're frozen in your tracks, the rustling in the bushes stops. Sweat in your palms, a pounding in your chest, you search the surroundings until...you find it! The sabre tooth tiger a mere meters away from you, ready to pounce if you continued walking forward as you were doing just a few paces before.
Such was a day-in-the-life of our ancestors, when they still lived in caves and wore the skin of animals. Back then anxiety, or loosely, a stress reaction – helped us survive. It made us more aware of our surroundings. It was helpful. Nay, it was essential.
It is a part of us, just as breathing and eating is essential for survival. And it is a part of our mind we are born with to this day.
Nowadays it is nowhere near as important nor essential. However, for quite a number of us that choice is not ours to make.
Some triggers of anxiety:
Agoraphobia: fear of public and crowded places, where there are a lot of people. The supermarket seems like a mine field!
Specific phobias: fear of a single trigger that causes panic eg. Spiders
Social phobia: fear of social situations, or embarrassment of scrutiny by others.
Generalised anxiety: no specific trigger, 'on-edge' all the time, worrying a lot to the point of affecting behaviour or thought.
Our emotional state affects our mind and body, which in turn causes symptoms of anxiety, some of which are:
Sense of doom or imminent danger
Increased peristalsis: 'gurgling tummy' or 'butterflies'
Shortness of breath
Anxiety, like many mental health conditions, is more common than many of us are led to believe. Unlike someone with a sprained ankle and walking with a limp, anxiety sufferers can be standing in front of us and we'd be none the wiser.
What can we do?
The solution is two-fold:
Psychological therapy: the take-home point of this particular post - the issue is from within the mind, therefore the solution is from within the mind! Psychological therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), targets the triggers of anxiety, and gives us the tools to address these triggers, once and for all. Just talking, learning, and breathing!
Medication: sometimes the situation may be so difficult that your doctor would recommend medication for a set period of time. This usually is used to help tide one over the symptoms, while working on the tools to address these triggers.
There is light at the end of the tunnel! See your doctor about referrals to a psychologist or counsellor – they are the most knowledgeable professionals to equip us with new techniques to address this anxiety causing issue!