Managing Stress Techniques
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What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety affects our whole being. It affects how we feel, how we behave and has very real physical symptoms. It feels a bit like fear but whereas we know what we are frightened of, we often don't know what we are anxious about. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling - severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating, having a serious impact on daily life.

Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. Anxiety is considered a problem when symptoms interfere with a person's ability to sleep or otherwise function. Generally speaking, anxiety disorder occurs when a reaction is out of proportion with what might be normally expected in a situation. It happens when anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations.

Common Types Of Anxiety Disorder:

  • Panic Disorder
    Panic Disorder is a type of anxiety characterized by brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension that leads to shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty breathing. Panic attacks tend to arise abruptly and peak after 10 minutes, but they then may last for hours. Panic disorders usually occur after frightening experiences or prolonged stress, but they can be spontaneous as well. A panic attack may lead an individual to be acutely aware of any change in normal body function, interpreting it as a life threatening illness - hypervigiliance followed by hypochondriasis. In addition, panic attacks lead a sufferer to expect future attacks, which may cause drastic behavioral changes in order to avoid these attacks.
  • General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
    Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a chronic disorder characterized by excessive, long-lasting anxiety and worry about nonspecific life events, objects, and situations. GAD sufferers often feel afraid and worry about health, money, family, work, or school, but they have trouble both identifying the specific fear and controlling the worries. Their fear is usually unrealistic or out of proportion with what may be expected in their situation. Sufferers expect failure and disaster to the point that it interferes with daily functions like work, school, social activities, and relationships.
  • Phobic Disorders
    These are persistent, unreasonable, intense fears (phobias) of situations, circumstances, or objects giving rise to anxiety and avoidance. Phobic disorders are classified as general (agoraphobia and social phobia) or specific.
  • Agoraphobia
    Agoraphobia literally means "fear of the marketplace". Therefore, people with agoraphobia are afraid of open or public places. In reality, most people with agoraphobia are actually afraid of having a panic attack in these settings, especially settings in which there will be no one to help in case of panic attack or an actual emergency.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
    The person suffering from this disorder has an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations. The anxiety in this case arises out of the fear of being closely watched, judged or criticized by people around you.
  • Specific Phobias
    A specific phobia is fear of and anxiety about a particular situation or object. Specific phobias are the most common anxiety disorders. Among the most frequent are fear of animals zoophobia), heights (Acrophobia) and thunderstorms (Astraphobia or Brontophobia).
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
    OCD is a type of disorder involving two elements: obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are repetitive unwanted thoughts that make you feel anxious. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors and rituals that the patient feels compelled to perform as performing them temporarily reduces the anxiety.
  • Separation Anxiety
    This form of anxiety is a normal developmental stage experienced by a child when separated from the primary caregiver. It typically manifests itself as crying and distress when the child is away from a parent or from home.

What Causes Anxiety?


Anxiety is often triggered by stress in our lives. Some of us are more vulnerable to anxiety than others, but even those who become anxious easily can learn to manage it well. We can also make ourselves anxious with "negative self-talk" - a habit of always telling ourselves the worst will happen.

  • Genetics: Some research suggests that family history plays a part in increasing the likelihood that a person will develop anxiety disorder. This means that the tendency to develop anxiety disorder may be passed on in families.
  • Brain chemistry: Anxiety disorder has been associated with abnormal levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are special chemical messengers that help move information from nerve cell to nerve cell. If the neurotransmitters are out of balance, messages cannot get through the brain properly. This can alter the way the brain reacts in certain situations, leading to anxiety.
  • Environmental factors: Trauma and stressful events, such as abuse, the death of a loved one, divorce, changing jobs or schools, may lead to anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorder also may become worse during periods of stress. The use of and withdrawal from addictive substances, including alcohol, caffeine and nicotine, can also worsen anxiety.

Signs And Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders

Because the anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions rather than a single disorder, they can look very different from person to person. As well as feeling apprehensive and worried (possibly without knowing why), you may experience some of the following physical symptoms:

  • Tense muscles
  • Trembling
  • Churning stomach
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Frequent urination
  • Headache
  • Backache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness or "pins and needles" in arms, hands or legs
  • Sweating/flushing
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Watching for signs of danger
  • Feeling like your mind’s gone blank
  • Anticipating the worst
  • Trouble concentrating

Self-help For Anxiety And Anxiety Disorders

Not everyone who worries a lot has an anxiety disorder. You may be anxious because of an overly demanding schedule, lack of exercise or sleep, pressure at home or work, or even from too much coffee. However, when your anxiety becomes so tremendous that it affects your health and daily acitivities, then you should seek help in controlling your anxiety disorder.

Some self-help methods to eliminate anxiety:

  • Learn to manage stress in your life. Keep an eye on pressures and deadlines and make a commitment to taking time out from study or work.

  • Learn a variety of relaxation techniques. Physical relaxation methods and meditation techniques really do help. Yoga is a very good exercise for anyone as it balances and calms your mind, body and soul. Yoga also teaches you meditation techniques where you can totally relax your mind and body and get rid of stress and anxiety.

  • Look after your physical self. Eat healthily, get regular exercise and try to keep a regular sleep pattern. Avoid alcohol, cannabis and junk food.

  • Practise deep abdominal breathing. This consists of breathing in deeply and slowly through your nose, taking the air right down to you abdomen. Visualise the air travelling right down to your abdomen and say the word "calm" to yourself as you breathe in. Then breathe out slowly and gently through your mouth. As you breathe out visualise the stress and tension leaving your body with your breath and think the word "relax." Deliberately let your muscles go floppy as you breathe out. Take three deep breaths at a time. If you breathe deeply for too long you may feel dizzy from the extra oxygen. You can repeat the three breaths after a short time of breathing normally.

  • Learn to replace "negative self talk" with "coping self talk." When you catch yourself thinking something negative like "I can't do this, it's just too hard," try to change it to something more positive, like "This is hard but I can get through it." It can be helpful to think of "changing the tape" that runs through your mind. It is useful to make a list of the negative thoughts you often have and write a list of positive, believable thoughts to replace them.


When Should I Seek Professional Help For Anxiety?

While self-help coping strategies for anxiety can be very effective, if your worries and fears have become so great that they’re causing extreme distress or disrupting your daily routine, it is important to seek professional help. If you’re experiencing a lot of physical anxiety symptoms, you should start by getting a medical checkup.

A variety of medications, including benzodiazepines and antidepressants, are used in the treatment of anxiety disorders. But medication is most effective when combined with natural behavioral therapy. When compared to those who use medication alone, anxiety sufferers treated with both self-help natural therapy and medication benefit from a greater reduction in symptoms and a lower risk of relapse.

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Panic Away treats the panic attacks (anxiety attacks) and then shows you how to deal with the general anxiety or GAD as it sometimes called. General anxiety takes slightly longer to treat as it involves a process of bringing your bodies anxiety level back to normal often after years of high anxiety. Expect to see big improvements with general anxiety within three to four weeks.

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Do You Know...

  • No evidence exists anywhere to prove that chemical imbalances in the brain causes stress, anxiety and depression?
  • There are two therapies commonly prescribed for most sufferers of stress, depression and anxiety that you MUST avoid as they will actually make you feel worse?
  • Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems like heart attacks, depression and high blood pressure?
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