As you get older, it seems as though the world has a funny way of getting smaller. As we age, it becomes more apparent that our experiences are similar to those around us. With the heightened popularity of social media, we have immediate access to breaking news, the latest trends, viral videos and instant personal updates.
Theoretically, you would think that immediate access would bring immediate comfort. However, some experts believe that immediate access can cause the opposite effect. Some experts believe that an increase in social media (and technology as a whole) is rapidly increasing our levels of stress and anxiety.
What is Anxiety?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) defines anxiety as the anticipation of a future threat. An anxiety disorder can be described as having anxiety PLUS excessive fear. Fear can be described as our emotional response to a real or perceived threat.
What Does Anxiety Look Like?
Well… anxiety can present itself in many ways. Not to mention, everyone experiences the symptoms of anxiety differently. Some may have somatic symptoms, such as an upset stomach or sweaty palms, whereas others may have emotional symptoms such as crying spells or mood swings. Anxiety can also be expressed through physical and cognitive symptoms. Take a look at the list of symptoms below, have you ever experienced any of these?
Another indication of anxiety is the experience of panic attacks. For those who have had panic attacks, they’re incredibly overwhelming. Within minutes, abrupt fear and discomfort takes control of the body. You may feel like you can’t breathe, that you’re unable to calm down, or that you have a lack of control. What’s even worse is that panic attacks can happen when you’re calm or anxious – so there’s no specific situation that causes panic attacks. As before, take a look at the list of symptoms below. Have you experienced any of these?
If you answered “YES” to any of the symptoms above, chances are that you’ve experienced some degree of anxiety.
How Can I Help Myself?
For starters, breathe. When we’re in anxiety-provoking situations, our heart rate is elevated and our fight-or-flight response is activated. In these situations, it’s essential breathe and to breathe deeply. When you breathe deeply, you’re able to lower your heart rate and put yourself back in control.
To try deep breathing, practice these steps!
Another great way to manage anxiety is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is thought to be like meditation, but it helps you remain present instead of letting your mind wonder. Mindfulness aims to keep you “mindful” of your current state and situation. Listen to your body and evaluate how you feel.
To try mindfulness, practice these steps!
When Should I Talk to Someone?
Whenever you want. You don’t have to wait to experience overwhelming symptoms of anxiety to talk to someone. Regardless if you’ve had anxiety for one day or for four years – if you want to talk to someone, do it!
You may find that coping strategies aren’t always enough to manage your anxiety. In that case, you can always reach out to someone for support. Whether it be your family, your friends, a counselor, a spiritual leader or even a coach – talk to someone. Our greatest mistake with anxiety is to invalidate our concerns. Regardless of how minimal, irrational or dramatic our concerns might feel – don’t invalidate yourself. If you’re uneasy for any reason, reach out to someone who can help.
Remember that anxiety is normal, and it can even be a good thing. But anxiety can become a problem if it interferes with your day-to-day functioning. If you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety, don’t hesitate to contact a professional or practice coping strategies.