Anxiety: What it is (and isn't!)

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We use the word anxiety everyday in our conversations. However, did you know that only a small portion of the population actually has anxiety? Did you know that anxiety must be diagnosed by your doctor or psychiatrist? When we worry about everyday things, that’s not anxiety.

Everybody worries about something: work, school, appearance, etc. Worrying can help you be productive and accomplish important tasks, like studying for a test, getting to work on time or preparing dinner. A certain amount of worrying or distress keeps you safe and out of trouble. Can you think of an example where a little bit of distress has helped you? However, some people worry too much, and it interferes with their daily life. They overthink things and overanalyze situations, which prevents them from being mindful and focussing on the task on hand. That is when you should seek help and see a doctor and a counsellor.

Worries also affect your body:

  • Heart beat is faster

  • Stomach feels sick or you feel ‘butterflies’

  • Feel like you can’t breathe

  • Head hurts, pain in neck or back

  • Face turns red

  • Feel shaky or dizzy

Why is it important to know about the physiological reactions? So that you can notice what is happening to you when you worry and use tools to help you calm down. When you are calm, you will be able to think clearly and deal with problems effectively.

Some tools to use to help you relax when you are overwhelmed with problems and feeling distressed:

  • Deep belly breathing

  • Meditation

  • Positive self talk

  • Do something fun for yourself

  • Talk to someone you trust

  • Journal your thoughts

  • Listen to calming music

  • Drink chamomile or peppermint tea

  • Go workout

  • Go for a walk outside

  • Hang out with some friends/family that make you smile

Remember, we all worry at some time or another. It is perfectly normal! Life will always have its ups and downs. Use your tools and keep putting one foot in front of the other! If your worries are exceeding your ability to cope, it may be time to talk to your doctor and seek counselling.

Perminder Hundle, M.Ed., RCC

As a professional counsellor to children, youth, adults, couples, and families, Perminder is passionate about helping people navigate their struggles and worries in life. Perminder is very skilled at working with children and adults, helping parents with skills on better parenting or working on their own relationships, working with anxiety and depression, and helping navigate cross-cultural issues for individuals, couples, and families. For communication with the author, please direct your correspondence here: perminderhundle@vitalitycollective.ca