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The Agony of Anxiety

"When you live your life in a cautionary crouch, the greatest relief of all may come from simply standing up." - Steve Phillipson

So many people; children, teens, adults as well as seniors seem to suffer from anxiety. With age, it seems to get worse. I feel that this is an important subject to discuss and I hope that some of my suggestions will help each of you find the key to release these painful, intrusive thoughts and fears and be able to feel at peace once again.

Statistics Canada reported that approximately 1 in 4 Canadians will experience at least one anxiety disorder in their lifetime. In fact, anxiety is the most common mental illness in Canada.

We live in an age of anxiety. All we see on TV, the Internet, Facebook, the movies and the media, is cause for alarm, fear and worry. The average person thinks 80,000 thoughts per day and 87% of those thoughts are negative and the same thoughts they had last week, last month and last year.

While, it is true that we all worry and feel stressed at times and we know that it's part of the human condition. When you find that for most of your day, and sometimes most of your night, you feel riddled with loops of worry, fears, what-ifs and possible disasters ; you might be experiencing an anxiety disorder. The term Anxiety Disorder is diagnosed when a person worries persistently, excessively and unrealistically about a whole range of everyday issues. When the distress and some degree of functional impairment is in your daily life, this may be diagnosed as an anxiety disorder. When it is severe, it can consume and incapacitate the individual creating panic attacks that can result in frequent visits to the emergency ward.

What are the symptoms of extreme anxiety?

  • Shortness of breath
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Numbness
  • Dizziness or unsteadiness
  • Feeling of detachment
  • Hot flashes or chills
  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of going crazy or out of control
  • Sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Thinking negative thoughts that continue to loop
  • Can't sleep
  • Can't relax

Coping with anxiety

  • Deep breathing exercises through your diaphragm
  • Meditations
  • Good sleeping patterns
  • Decreasing use of caffeine
  • Nutritional improvements
  • Learning to identify and express feelings calmly and assertively
  • Identifying some panic reactions as anger in disguise
  • Countering negative self-talk
  • Countering mistaken beliefs
  • Developing self-confidence and feeling safe
  • Search for thoughts that trigger anxiousness. The average person thinks 80,000 thoughts a day. How many of your thoughts are worry or anxious thoughts?
  • The best way to deal with anxiety is to notice it before you become overwhelmed.
  • Focus on the solution, not the problem. Anxiety is your fearful thoughts taking control. Instead of focusing on what might or could happen, think about what you can do to solve the problem.
  • Focus on logic; anxiety or stress is a product of your fearful thoughts which create fearful feelings. Give yourself time and space to look at it logically when you have calmed down.
  • Find a hobby - hobbies whether in the form of music, exercise, reading a book, or going for a walk, helps you to detach from troubling thoughts, relax, and allow yourself to calm down.
  • Baby steps - remember anxiety didn't take over your life all at once. It took years to get to this place and it will take time to overcome your habit of negative thoughts and worries. Each baby step you take will bring you closer to feeling safer, calmer, more self-confidant and more in control.
  • Focus more on the here and now. What is going right in your life today?
  • Schedule your time wisely. Being too busy, can make you feel overwhelmed and increase your anxiety levels. Take time to prioritize your schedule and manage your time well. Figure out your priorities.

It takes self-awareness, commitment, and perseverance, but people can change their styles of thinking and relating to others every day. Cognitive behaviour therapy treatment for anxiety has been found to be the most effective way of reducing anxiety.

With my assistance, chronic worriers can become more aware of how they are thinking about everyday issues. Usually, they find that they are making cognitive errors such as all-or-nothing thinking, jumping to conclusions, catastrophizing, and overestimating the likelihood of something dangerous happening. By repeated practice, they can learn to catch themselves making these errors and gradually sift them out of their thinking.

At its most elemental level, anxiety disorder is a disorder of intolerance of uncertainly. An afflicted person just can't stand the agony of not knowing what is happening or what will happen, and lives in constant mental and physical agitation as a result.

To be able to live in the here and now and accept and even to embrace life's endless mysteries and uncertainties is part of the definition of mental health. Another way to look at mental health is having the belief and the knowing that whatever happens to you in life, you will be able to deal with it. How wonderful will that be when you can say this to yourself and know it to be true!

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