Recognising and managing anxiety
It is estimated that over two million Australians experience anxiety in a 12 month period. Living in a busy world, with increasing demands and the propensity to always be “on”, the need for awareness of anxiety and its impact, is greater than ever before.
It is common to experience stress and worry in response to a situation that places you under pressure; these symptoms are often transient and pass once the situation has resolved. Anxiety, on the other hand tends to stick around and doesn’t go away when the stressful situation has passed. The symptoms of anxiety tend to interfere with an individual’s day to day living and quality of life.
Some signs and symptoms you may be experiencing anxiety include:
- Feeling anxious or worried more days than not
- Finding it difficult to wind down/ frequently feeling wound up
- Experiencing difficulty controlling your worry thoughts
- Struggling to concentrate or your mind going blank
- Difficulties sleeping
- Anxiety/worry is impacting your ability to live your life the way you would like.
If these sound familiar to you, then you are already on the path to making improvements – the first step to change is recognising the need for it.
Anxiety management tips
If anxiety is getting in the way of your day to day activities, read on for a few tips to help you manage your anxiety.
Take time to relax
Whether it be by traditional means or something more new age – anything that gives your mind and body a break is great. There are lots of ways to relax and unwind; find something you enjoy and make time to chill each week.
Look after your physical health
Give your body the best chance by eating well, practising good sleep habits, exercising regularly and keeping alcohol use to a minimum.
Challenge unhelpful thoughts
Research shows that the way we think significantly impacts how we feel. In particular, be aware of unrealistic and unhelpful thought patterns. Challenge your anxious thoughts by asking yourself; “What is the worst that could happen?”, “What is the best that could happen?” and “What is most likely to happen?”
Manage your time effectively
Do you often feel rushed and over-scheduled? Unable to complete tasks on time? To avoid some of these common pitfalls: 1) identify and prioritise what you want to achieve and how to distribute your time and 2) Try to maintain a balance between time spent at work, home and on you (restricting work to work time and turning off devices when not required will help!).
Continue doing all the things that are important to you – avoiding things that make you anxious is just a temporary solution and, in fact, contributes to maintaining anxiety.
Identify your early warning signs
Do you notice changes to your sleep patterns? Do you notice more tension in your body? Become familiar with (and look out for) early warning signs that you are starting to feel anxious. Intervening as early as you can makes for much easier work.
Prevention is key
No matter how you feel right now, prioritise ongoing anxiety management (rather than waiting for it to be a problem). Regularly engaging in pleasant and relaxing activities is a great place to start.
Finally, know when to access help and do so! If anxiety is stopping you living your life the way you want to, make an appointment with a psychologist to discuss your specific anxiety management needs. Psychologists can help you to develop the tools to manage anxiety. Your psychologist will conduct a thorough assessment and develop an individualised management plan.
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