Anxiety - Five Things You Need to Know

Posted on May 3, 2017

Photo: flickr

Many of us often feel stressed, or tell others that we are feeling stressed. While it is perfectly normal to feel stressed because of or in the lead up to a stressful situation, it could become a bigger problem if these feelings of nervousness are compounded into anxiety. In some cases, this anxiety could spiral out of control into a fully-fledged disorder that could adversely affect not just your mind, but your body and your life as well.

Here are five things you need to know about anxiety:

1. Even if your mind does not register that you are anxious, your body already knows it

At times, we are unaware that we are feeling anxious. However, even as our conscious mind remains oblivious to our anxiety, our body is perceptive enough to recognise it. This is why we experience physical symptoms of anxiety, such as muscle tension and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Other signs of anxiety include frequent muscle aches, stomach aches, repeated clenching and unclenching of one’s fists, constipation or diarrhoea. Psychotherapists who specialise in mind-body work can help you to connect your brain and body, bringing them onto the same page, and at the same time try to elicit the root of the anxiety.

2. Anxiety can be a mask for the underlying emotion: anger

Anxiety is a more socially acceptable emotion than anger. This is because people sympathise with those who are anxious, but fear anger. Hence, some of us have grown to mask our anger with anxiety; in effect, the anxiety becomes your defence against admitting to yourself, or to others that you are upset. For instance, you may rein in your anger because you fear that expressing it towards loved ones could lead to estranged relationships, or worse still, abandonment. This causes you to become antsy, nervous, worried and restless in thought and action. To see if the root of your anxiety indeed lies in anger, sit alone in someplace quiet and sift through your nervous feelings. Take deep breaths and let your emotions surface. If your nervousness morphs into anger, then that means that your anxiety could very well be a cover for your anger.

3. Those who are anxious around others could be experiencing social anxiety

Some of us feel exceptionally anxious when we are around strangers, or before an event in which you have to interact or mingle amongst a crowd. For instance, you may obsess over a party a week before the actual date, thinking about everything bad that could happen, or perhaps you may dwell on every single thing you said and did afterwards. Otherwise, you may find ways to avoid going to such large gatherings. You may have stomach and muscle aches, you heart rate spikes, and perhaps you feel as if you are constantly being watched by others. However, when at home, your anxiety subsides and disappears. If this sounds like you, you may have social anxiety, and you could try meditating before leaving the house for an outing or event. Take slow, calming breaths for several minutes to centre yourself. Try not to think about what could possibly go wrong; picture a situation during which everything goes without a hitch.

4. If your anxiousness is continuous and unerring, you could have Generalised Anxiety Disorder

As aforementioned, anxiety is not an uncommon emotion. All of us have experienced anxiety, and will feel anxious occasionally. These feelings of nervousness and unease should disappear once the stressor is over or has subsided. However, if you feel that your anxiety is unceasing, and has been accompanied by symptoms such as feeling restless, finding it difficult to concentrate and/or sleep for half a year or more, there is a chance that you have Generalised Anxiety Disorder. This unceasing bout of anxiety could negatively affect the quality of your life, making you unable to cope. Thus, you should seek the help of a professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist.

5. Anxiety can morph into Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

There are questions to which the answers are hardly black or white, but it is only when we begin to think about them continuously without pause, allowing our worry and uncertainty to consume us, that we may no longer be feeling plain anxious but actually bordering on obsessive. This then turns into OCD when your behaviour becomes uncontrollably ritualistic, and engaging in such behaviour calms your mind. Another symptom of OCD is having unwanted thoughts cloud your mind despite trying your best to prevent them from doing so. These could be distressing images and scenes such as of someone physically attacking you in the dead of night, which could then cause you to spend a small fortune on taxi and Uber rides even when they are not strictly necessary.

Nervousness can be a typical, normal emotion when in normal doses. However, it can also get out of hand and develop into something bigger, something that could negatively affect your life. Remember that there are many avenues to seek help from, and to seek help once you feel that anxiety is controlling you, and not the other way round.

Category(s):Anxiety, Social Anxiety / Phobia

Source material from Psychology Today