Anxiety is difficult to become aware of, especially as the symptoms can build up over time. It can occur after a sudden event in our life or because of increased stress over a long period of time. Let us explain how to recognize anxiety and address it.
How to Recognize Anxiety
One day, Mandy, an active woman, lost her job. You could say that can happen to everyone, every day. Right, but do you actually know what effect it has on your life? Each person reacts differently to such a change. There is the instant reaction and then the thinking. Many questions can begin to flow in your mind: What am I going to do? When will I find a job? Why does this happen to me?….
All sorts of questions that won’t stop spinning in your mind. Depending on your personality, you may express your frustration, or become irritable, maybe angry for no apparent reason. You may lose sleep, become discouraged.
Whatever the type of sudden or unwanted change, it may cause an excess of stress that can turn easily into anxiety if not acknowledged soon enough. Learning how to recognize anxiety is the first step to addressing the issue.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety can also be built up over time. As a woman in our current society, you may have to juggle between your job, your kids, your friends and your house. You may not find the time to slow down, and take care of yourself. You have to deal with too many things at the same time.
Common symptoms for general anxiety are
- Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge
- Being easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating or having your mind go blank
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty controlling worry
- Sleep problems
The Brain and Anxiety
Anxiety is linked to our emotions and how we deal with fears. Part of learning how to recognize anxiety is to look at the brain. Our brain regulates those fears and emotions. Studies have shown that our neuronal system can change and alter the transmission of information in our brain under high stress or for a long period of time of stress. If the brain is altered due to stress, we become less efficient to deal with our emotions, fears, doubts. Our behavior can then be controlled by our anxiety.
Exercises to Manage Anxiety
When does your mind rest? How do you keep your head clear? Now that you have a better idea of how to recognize anxiety, here are a few exercises you can do on your own when you have a limited time.
Exercise 1: Breathing exercise
Sit on a chair or on the floor. Take 3 deep breaths and relax the tension accumulated in your body. Start breathing through your belly. At the beginning you may place one hand on your belly just below the belly button and the other hand on your lower back. Then breathe and watch your belly expand when you inhale and retract when you exhale. Time to time, you can scan your body from head to toe and check if there is any tension left in your body. You can do this exercise for 5 to 10 minutes every day whenever you need it.
I like this second exercise because it helps us become aware of the stress due to running everywhere all day long. I call it red/stop – let go. How many times have you been frustrated because of a red light that forced you to stop while running to an appointment or picking up your kids at school?
I use the red/stop as a reminder to slow down my day. Each time I arrive at a red light, I use it to take a breath, let go of what bothers me at that moment, and smile at life. Before I know it, it’s green and I feel good again. Since I started to see the red/stop as an opportunity to let go, I love red lights!!
An easy third exercise: take a walk for 20 min around your neighborhood. Ideally find a green space where you can see trees, birds, flowers. If there is grass, take off your shoes and walk a bit. You can even combine your walk with a breathing exercise.
Take time to rest this week and be well!
Amelie for InnerOptimal