1a (1): apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill: a state of being anxious.
(2) medical: an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.
Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary
One of the traits that are peculiar to human beings is the ability to experience and regulate a wide range of emotions. One of these is anxiety.
Simply defined, anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. New situations, challenges, danger, etc. are anxiety triggers that can cause us to feel apprehensive about uncertain outcomes. Anxiety can manifest in different ways: increased heartbeat, sweating, rapid breathing, disruption in sleep patterns, etc. These symptoms vary from one individual to another.
For a feeling most of us tag as unpleasant, anxiety can be beneficial – if it’s well managed. Anxiety can help improve performance, which may be due to a greater level of preparation for the tasks ahead.
Although normal, excessive anxiety over some time can lead to anxiety disorder, which is characterized by persistent responses to certain situations with intense fear. Anxiety, like most emotions, is a temporary feeling. It fades away after the trigger (or stressor) has been removed. On the other hand, anxiety disorder involves an intense feeling of anxiety that can hinder an individual from performing daily tasks. Anxiety disorder is a mental health disorder that should be taken with utmost seriousness.
Learning healthy ways of managing anxiety is an important knowledge that you should be equipped with. Ways of managing anxiety include:
- Identifying your triggers: this could be a stressful job, conflicts with friends or loved ones, financial problems, etc.
2. Journaling or talking to a loved one
Finding healthy ways of expressing your anxiety can help alleviate the symptoms, make you more grounded in your reality, and help you find a solution to the challenge you may be facing.
3. Prioritizing regular sleep, a healthy diet, and exercise.
Taking care of your body plays a pivotal role in your mental health. Anxiety and sleep have a relationship cycle: anxiety can cause lack of sleep, and lack of sleep can cause anxiety. Hence, it is important to ensure you cultivate healthy sleeping habits, backed with healthy eating and adequate physical exercise.
4. Deep breathing
You can try the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. You can do this several times a day to reduce anxiety, and improve sleep quality.
Proper methods of anxiety management can help individuals be better equipped to “cope with normal life stresses, work productively and fruitfully, and make a contribution to his or her community.”