An Essential Introduction to Anxiety
“Where man finds no answer, he finds fear”.
Alert people today would realise that anxiety is a common yet increasing problem amongst the world in general. We are becoming aware of the subtle, personal and deeper anxiety-creating scenarios more so than the obvious such as war, starvation and poverty, politics and financial matters. These sources of anxiety rest deep within us all causing confusion and uncertainty. To endeavour to try and prove the existence of anxiety and how it affects each and every one of us at times would be a fruitless task not to mention an unnecessary one. The acceptance of anxiety and the stress it causes as an urgent issue as opposed to a simply a matter of mood, is beginning to break through yet still needs attention.
What has been lost in the last century is incredible by way of talent, invention and life expression is simply to horrific to imagine. Our hunger for greed and power has left a trail of destruction throughout almost every country on earth at some point, preventing he expression of people in a positive and productive way. Industrial revolution of which has provided many benefits to mankind still to this day hangs over the creative person like a dark shadow, as they go about their day job oblivious to what they could create and the service they might be able to offer to others. Aside from this, the cause that inhibits expression of talent the most that I have seen and also experienced, is anxiety. Fear of failure and the consequences, others opinions etc.
So let’s explore this together and come up with a solution so that the world can share in the beauty, the talent, the amazing things that our people all over the world have to offer. If this was the case, if people did follow through and create the life they deserve irrespective of this handbrake, would we see such inequality? Would we see such poverty? Would we see such violence and hate? It’s an interesting question to ponder. It could all start with something so simple.
The extent of the problem.
It’s just clicked over 2:15am and the blissful state of sleep seems like it will never come. The feeling of dread is ever present as every catastrophic scenario runs over and over like an old movie stuck on repeat. What if I screw this up? I’ll look stupid. I hope I won’t forget what I’m suppose to do or say. The unrelenting madness continues until exhaustion creeps in and semi consciousness finally arrives. Doesn’t sound like much fun does it? I feel that many people would agree with me when I say that the battle against anxiety is one of the most urgent problems of the modern day. Anxiety is pervasive throughout all generations; often starting in one area then flowing throughout many other areas also which is why it is good to knock it on the head early rather than let it take control. It is interesting that despite more information and assistance being available than ever before, anxiety runs wild throughout all generations chewing up and spitting out peoples lives in almost every area.
Whilst much technology was designed mainly to get tasks out of the way more quickly and effectively so we could relax more, we have found ourselves going in the opposite direction. Generally our lives are faster paced, loaded with expectations and more stressful than ever before! Not to mention the explosion of social media which has everyone around the world comparing themselves and competing to others, listening to others whinge and whine, making assumptions and wondering what the hell is wrong with me. Fear and worry reins supreme. It seems like there is a never ending array of ways to make yourself feel like crap.
There are of course highly understandable reasons of why anxiety would be present, such as living in a war zone or confronting illness and poverty. Yet, mild to extreme levels of anxiety are evident in westernised societies where the high level of threat remains seemingly modest. Or does it? Threats can come from anywhere and will be different for each person. A persons symptoms and experiences are all relevant and no one situation should be generalised at any stage. Would you believe that the average high school student in Australia and the US typically exhibits the anxiety levels of a 1960s Psychiatric patient? An alarming statistic yet in the mind of a student, low exam results can represent total and unrepairable failure in life. Therefore its understandable anxiety levels may remain high for some time. Although high anxiety levels inhibit many of the mental faculties that are required to achieve good results. Never the less, all experiences are relevant and unique.
Anxiety inhibits growth both personally and professionally. Anxieties main purpose is to highlight a threat, but more importantly inhibit or block any further activity that may cause harm. Physical harm, but also psychological harm such as in self esteem, confidence, loss of social status, relationships or finances and many other areas that are deemed as important to the individual. Basically it is the cue to retreat to safety. Whilst this may have its benefits as obviously we don’t want to bring harm to ourselves however, on many occasions there is a loss of opportunity.
|Is some level of anxiety good though?
I often hear people say this and to be honest its debatable. Generally a small amount of anxiety will keep people at a high state of awareness or concentration and can be highly motivating if used in the right way. However if this remains long term result and is maintained a high level then damage and hampering of growth into others areas are inevitable. Basically the lower the anxiety level the more effective is a persons mental faculties such as memory, concentration, perception. Physical health is another obvious downfall to high level of anxiety eating away at the immune system, energy levels and also has a strong relationship to poor diet and sleep.
What is not good?
All in all there are few people that escape anxiety completely and by the most part some level of anxiety is completely normal in the short term. This could be taken as a transient state which is temporary and most likely will resolve itself as the environmental trigger dissipates. Such as, a person experiencing financial problems or has an important job interview to attend. In contrast in other cases anxiety can remain a long term and often debilitating problem. Anxiety is when a person experiences a number of emotions at the same time such as nervousness and fear. Although avoidance is a common tactic, Anxiety will often eventually force a person to deal with the cause on most occasions. Once the event or situation has been challenged and won, the anxiety reduces. However, excessive anxiety is a problem and is known as anxiety disorder. With an anxiety disorder, a person will most likely panic about certain situations and become overwhelmed with emotions and thoughts that they are not able to effectively deal with. These highly unpleasant experiences significantly affect a persons well being and ability to fully experience life. These strong experiences normally accompany physical symptoms such as;
The mind has perceived a threat and the body is being pumped with adrenalin to prepare for a fight or to flee to safety. Overall it is not nice experience. This reaction can be triggered due to a number of reasons such as a persons circumstances, events, certain past traumatic experiences or anything perceived by the person to be threatening.
We all generally experience anxiety from time to time however what to look for is prolonged experiences. When this anxiety extends for a prolonged period (such as 2-3 weeks) it is time to seek professional help to avoid long term effects and having anxiety become a regular occurrence or habit. This also depends on what is happening at the time. So if there is a major crisis such as an illness, death, job loss etc. then obviously its going to take some time to alleviate the symptoms. The best indicator of ‘when should I seek assistance?’ is when anxiety starts to eat into your ability to fully experience life. Such as not wanting to leave the house, shelving goals and future plans and avoiding friends or family. The trigger is usually when you begin to notice changes in your regular routine that are linked to feeling anxious. Rest assured though that anxiety is a very common problem especially in today’s stress filled world! But the bigger issue is here that we want to treat it seriously and avoid long term problems.
Types of Anxiety.
Generalised Anxiety GAD
Generalised Anxiety is long lasting and can be explained as excessive worrying (unspecific) about everything and anything. For example, money, relationships, health, work, school and natural disasters all seem fairly common. The fear of a catastrophic meltdown at any moment coupled with possible scenarios continually runs through the mind. Overall this type of anxiety will effect energy levels, health, memory and concentration amongst other things.
Social anxiety is anxiety of a feared event where the person is judge harshly or embarrassed in public. In todays often judgemental and uncaring society this particular problem can be difficult to deal with to the point where the person may withdraw from almost all contact with others. This type of anxiety has large scale effects on a person ability to live fully and enjoy life often leading to an array of other mental health issues such as agoraphobia and depression.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder OCD and Checking Behaviour
Obsessive compulsive disorder can be explained by the intrusive and repetitive thoughts associated with things such as rituals and cleanliness. Often the person will be aware that their actions are irrational but also reduce their anxiety of a catastrophic event occurring if the compulsion is not carried out.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychological reaction to a highly stressful event that has occurred outside of daily experiences such as car accidents, military combat, abuse, violence or disasters. The person may experience flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, insomnia and nightmares. Overall, its an extremely unpleasant experience and due to the seriousness of this type of anxiety should be treated initially by a Medical Dr in conjunction with a Psychiatrist or Psychologist.
Fears and Phobias including Performance Anxiety
Almost all of us will fall into this category of anxiety at some point. This type of anxiety can produce thoughts of many scenarios and possible outcomes associated with an incredibly large range of things. Basically people can have a phobia of just about anything from cats to the kitchen sink, sand or the sun.
The Question you should be asking yourself.
Does Anxiety stand of my happiness and experiencing life to its fullest?
Do I feel my level of fear or anxiety is excessive?
If you answer yes to either if these question its time to make the decision to slay that monster and reach new heights of awareness.