Chronic anxiety can make you miserable and unhealthy. Surprisingly, many people don’t even realize they suffer from chronic anxiety simply because they’ve become habituated to their condition. Could this be you?
Anxiety is not fear of a real threat – such as a large barking dog running toward you – but rather an expectation of a future threat, always feeling uneasy that a dog may attack you whenever you go for a walk.
Anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry, and uneasiness that is often accompanied by muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue, and problems in concentration. Anxiety can be appropriate, but when it is too much and continues too long, the individual may suffer from an anxiety disorder.
20 Signs and symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:
1. excessive, ongoing worry and tension
2. an unrealistic view of problems
3. restlessness or a feeling of being edgy
5. muscle tension
8. difficulty concentrating
10. the need to go to the bathroom frequently
13. trouble falling or staying asleep
15. being easily startled
16. numbness in hands and feet
17. difficulty swallowing
18. bouts of difficulty breathing
20. hot flashes
6 Health Consequences
If excessive worrying and high anxiety go untreated, they can lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts.
Chronic anxiety and outpouring of stress hormones can have serious physical consequences, including:
1. Suppression of the immune system
2. Digestive disorders
3. Muscle tension
4. Short-term memory loss
5. Premature coronary artery disease
6. Heart attack
10 Treatment Measures
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to help individuals alleviate anxiety and to re-establish harmony of mind, body, and spirit.
1. Speak to your doctor. Get a full physical exam to make sure other health problems are not the cause for your feelings of anxiety. Your doctor may prescribe medication such as anti-anxiety drugs to help you manage anxiety and excessive worry.
2. Daily exercise. With your doctor’s consent, begin a regular exercise program. The chemicals produced during moderate exercise greatly enhance the immune system. Regular aerobic and strengthening exercises relieve tension and train your body to deal with stress under controlled circumstances.
3. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Stress and worry may cause some people to eat too little, others too much, or to eat unhealthy foods. Get in the habit of thinking about what’s good for you before you eat.
4. Drink caffeine in moderation. Since caffeine stimulates the nervous system, it can trigger adrenaline and make you feel nervous and jittery.
5. Be mindful of your worries. Set aside 15 minutes each day to focus on problems and fears – and then promise yourself to put them aside after the 15-minute session. Some people wear a rubber band on their wrist and snap the rubber band whenever they regress into their worry mode.
6. Learn to relax. Regular relaxation techniques can counteract the harmful effects of stress. Relaxation techniques may include deep abdominal breathing, meditation, listening to soothing music, yoga or a leisurely walk.
7. Meditate. Meditation is often used to clear the mind and erase many health issues, such as high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. It’s easy to learn to meditate and, instead of worrying, it may help you move beyond negative thoughts and worries that keep your body on high alert. With meditation, you purposefully pay attention to what is happening at the present moment without thinking of the past or future.
8. Have a strong social network. Loneliness may be as much a risk factor for disease as high cholesterol or smoking. People happily who happily engage in a networks of family and friends, not only have greater life expectancy, but also have fewer incidences of just about all types of diseases.
9. Be Active. A great way to relax and forget about your worries is have a hobby that you enjoy (preferably involving other people). You can also do volunteer work or participate in events such as hiking trips, cooking classes and so on. Over time, the focus required for these activities may slowly replace your emphasis on worries and anxieties.
10. Talk to a therapist. Counselling can help you develop the necessary coping strategies to deal with issues that trigger excessive worrying. A therapist will help you identify what types of thoughts and beliefs cause the anxiety and then work with you to reduce them. A therapist can also suggest ways to help you change. But you are the one responsible for making the changes. Overcoming anxiety is an active, rather than passive, process.