The thing about anxiety is that, at first, it slowly and stealthily creeps into the back of your mind, but then, before you know it, it has taken over and controls the way you think, talk, act and function.
Just like with other mental illnesses, we are unable to predict General Anxiety Disorder and how it will affect us. Some people stride through life, barely anxious about anything and carry on as though they are as light as a feather. However, for others, it is not that simple. Anxiety has a way of dragging you down, making you over-analyse and scrutinise every single action you make or word that you say, to the point where you can't function properly.
Staggering statistics show, that 1 in 5 people suffer with feeling anxious for some or most of the time. This is important to realise because although anxiety is "the most prevalent mental health disease" in the UK, it is the most "under reported, under-diagnosed and under-treated" Which also highlights other problems such as lack of awareness, which ultimately and unsurprisingly, is caused by lack of education.
Some common signs and symptoms of anxiety are: Feelings of fear, panic and uneasiness; problems sleeping; cold sweaty hands or feet, shortness of breath; heart palpitations; inability to be still and calm; dry mouth, nausea; muscle tension; dizziness or panic attacks. These are not all the symptoms, but are very commons ones, which can help you identify whether you are suffering with this illness.
Now, we would like to give you some coping techniques that we hope will provide you with ways in which you can help yourself, and will also give you the courage and strength to seek more professional help, if the symptoms do not subside.
1) Take deep, calming breaths. We know it sounds very simple, but it actually works wonders. Breathing in through your nose, and out through your mouth a few times, can help clear your mind from the initial panic, will help you see things more clearly, and will also enable you to relieve some of the building tension you may feel particularly in your chest, shoulders and neck.
2) Try to rationalise. The thing about anxiety, is that it has a way of taking even the most insignificant sounding scenarios and turning them into a full blown nightmare in your head. Try to put back the root of the fear, or if you can't find the root, the thing you are most worried about, into context. Place it back where it came from, and try to find logical and conclusive evidence that either supports your worry, or shrinks it back down to normal size. This can be quite hard to do, so try talking it out with someone you trust, or writing it down.
3) Find a nice, quiet spot to sit. Just by clearing your head from all the noise and commotion around you, sitting down, and relaxing for a few moments, you may be able to calm down the thing that feels too much.
4) Talking things through. Often, the reason why we get in such a mess, is because we let the thing go round and round in our heads until it is wildly out of proportion and causing us great difficultly. Just by finding someone you trust, to talk to about it, can help you greatly and relieve the pain and weight from your shoulders.
5) With two fingers, tap the back of your other hand. Using this when you are anxious allows you to let out your feelings, by tapping very quickly. After a while of doing this, start to slow down and in turn, your breaths and eventually your heart rate will slow down with it. This method, can be very calming and comforting.
These are just four, basic things that we hope will reduce particularly the imminent anxiety that you may feel. Although, under rated, anxiety really does affect people sometimes critically, so please, if you yourself, or someone you know suffers with anxiety and is receiving no help for it, don't forget to speak out and speak now so that you can help yourself.
Sometimes these things feel like they are going to swallow us up whole, but once you get help, you will be able to clear your mind and begin to walk on the path that you want to go on, not the one that anxiety is steering you towards.
-LF, LR and MG