Posted on 11:20 15/06/2017
We live in a time of bad and sometimes horrific events: terrorist attacks, wars, home invasions, domestic violence, job insecurity and rising prices. Not only do we hear about them on the news, we're assaulted by images on the television, internet and social media. Not surprising, there's been an escalation in people's anxiety! Some people have become so anxious, they don't even like to leave home and they don't like members of their family being out.
Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, uneasiness or concern about things that have an uncertain outcome. It normal and it can be even beneficial - it causes hormones, such as adrenalin, to pump through and this can make us more alert! Think about the feeling of anxiety when you're about to go for a job interview; it can actually help you think of the answers to the questions!
But anxiety isn't good when it's prolonged. All that adrenalin doesn't go away and can cause an increase in blood pressure, insomnia and muscle tension. Not only that, because we're constantly anxious we change some of our behaviour - going out less so we become more isolated and spending more time thinking about the things that worry us!
So what can we do?
The first thing - turn off! It's good to know what's going on in the world but when it comes to the distressing images, interviews and commentaries, hit the off button.
Next: if you can change something to lessen the anxiety, do it! Sometimes you can totally remove the source of the anxiety: for somebody who has become very anxious because of working in a toxic environment, finding a new job may alleviate it altogether. You can't always alleviate the problem but maybe you can do little things to help: being anxious about your house being broken into may be eased by putting new deadlocks on the doors or switching the garage doors off at the power source at night so they stay locked down.
And then there are lifestyle things that can help you manage the anxiety. Maintaining a healthy diet, avoiding illicit drugs and alcohol and getting enough sleep all help. Exercise is essential - it helps to burn off that adrenalin! Even a short walk a day is great - you get outside, feel the sun on your face, breath deeply and come back feeling good. Acupuncture is great to help you manage anxiety and massage can you release those tight muscles.
Of course relaxation is vital for managing anxiety - but that's easier said than done, isn't it? Sometimes relaxing can be the hardest thing when you're all tensed up. Consider going to a meditation or stretch class or maybe having a sauna or relaxation massage. There is also a huge number of relaxation CDs, DVDs, podcasts or apps so check out one that suits you.
Connecting with people you like and doing enjoyable things has so many beneficial effects they can't be all listed here! It reminds you that you aren't alone - we're all in this together! Doing things you enjoy with people you like means you smile and maybe even laugh - and that gets all the "feel good" hormones pumping. And giving somebody a hug - or receiving one - is perhaps the best therapeutic thing you could do! So go ahead - hug somebody you care about!