Fear is one of the most powerful emotions; having a remarkable effect on the mind and body. Anxiety is a type of fear too; a thought or threat of something going wrong in the future, rather than right now. Anxiety if short-lived does not cause much harm but if it persists for a long time it can take over a person’s life, affecting the ability to eat, sleep, focus or relax despite best efforts. Dr. Robert L. Leahy from the International Association of Cognitive Psychotherapy says that if a person is unable to work effectively, socialize, travel, or maintain stable relationships, he or she may be suffering from clinical anxiety.
Around the turn of the century, anxiety overtook depression as the most prominent mental health issue in the United States, affecting around 40 million adults – almost 1 in 5 people. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 18 percent of adults suffer from an anxiety disorder in any given year, placing the United States of America at the forefront of most anxious nations of the world.
What went wrong
Experts point out various reasons for this including:
1. Social Isolation and Increasing Loss of Community
Human contact and kinship alleviate anxiety whereas loneliness potentially increases it.
2. Information Bombardment
The daily onslaught of data and information has increased drastically and is mostly alarmist, fear-igniting variety.
3. The Pursuit of Extrinsic Goals
People focus more on money, fame, and image rather than intrinsic goals like meaningful life, lasting relationships, and affiliation.
What can be done
If you feel stressed out and anxious all the time, these five simple steps can help you –
1. Avoid CAN [Caffeine Alcohol Nicotine] –
Avoiding these known offenders and eating lots of fruits and vegetables is known to alleviate anxiety.
2. Regular Exercise –
Physical exercise can protect people against depression and anxiety by causing chemical changes in the brain which positively alter the mood.
3. Healthy Sleep
Sleep gives our body and brain time to heal, positively affecting mental health.
4. Relaxation Techniques
Yoga, meditation, massage, or simply deep breathing for a few minutes daily can help with anxiety symptoms.
5. Talk to Someone
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It takes immense strength to admit you have a problem and seek solutions for it.
It is important though to find the right kind of help.
If you feel troubled in a way that seems beyond your control and nothing makes you happy despite best efforts, you might want to consider seeking professional mental health help.
www.psychonline.com is a psychiatrist led, a patient-friendly online platform that connects health professionals and patient directly in a secure online video session, removing the need to travel and meet face-to-face. All of the psychiatrists are board-certified with extensive experience in the field.
‘Asking for help isn’t weak; it’s a great example of how to take care of yourself.’