Anxiety is a topic that is often spoken about in the context of mental health and maintaining good mental health but what is it, how would you recognise it and what are some tips for managing it?


What is anxiety?


Well firstly, we all experience anxiety from time to time and it is natural to feel this way for example, worrying about a job interview or an exam. It is usually a temporary feeling that leaves you once the worrying event/experience has passed.


Anxiety could be in response to pressure, fear or dread and can be experienced physically as well as through our thoughts and feelings. If the feelings of anxiety are frequent or long lasting then it can become a concern in terms of your mental health particularly if it prevents you from doing activities or living your normal life. 


Symptoms of anxiety


These are wide-ranging and will vary between individuals however, it is common to experience the following symptoms when feeling anxious:


Headaches, tension in the body (neck and shoulders)

Stomach ache

General aches and pains

Tiredness, or the inability to sleep/relax

Struggle to concentrate/focus

Feeling constantly worried/fearful

Raised heart rate, sweating, dizzy


What causes anxiety?


This is unique to the individual but some common triggers are environment, our temperament, how we are brought up and how we respond to situations of stress or challenge.


Some people experience anxiety on a temporary basis but others experience it more frequently and in conjunction with other mental health issues, for example depression or panic attacks. Panic attacks are caused by sudden intense anxiety and fear causing physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating and breathlessness. 


How can we manage symptoms of anxiety?


There are many different ways and it is important to find what is comfortable for you as we will each react differently to varying methods. In the first instance if you have been experiencing persistent anxiety and it is impacting on your quality of life you may wish to consult your GP for advice.


There are many resources available online, free of charge and lots of good signposting on websites like the NHS. 


Some people find the following useful:


Exercise, this does not have to be rigorous, a gentle walk can help reduce anxiety

Mindfulness - there are lots of free apps to help you learn how to practice this

Talking therapies

Talking to friends/family

Keeping a journal to help you notice patterns such as what's happening to trigger your anxiety or how often you are experiencing symptoms


If you are struggling with anxiety and are interested in exploring therapy please get in touch with any questions you may have and I would be happy to assist.