By Jessica Darvell (Psychologist). MPsych(Clin.),GradDipPsych, BCom/BSc.
Most of us know what it feels like to be worried. Worry/anxiety is a natural and important human response. We need anxiety to keep us aware of our surroundings and to sense danger. It is how we have evolved to keep ourselves safe. However, for many of us this anxiety and worry can get to a level that interferes with our lives. According to the Black Dog Institute (https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au) anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. Up to one-third of women and one-fifth of men will experience severe anxiety at some point in their lives.
So what is anxiety? It is the ‘fight or flight’ response. Before we lived in cities and towns, we needed the ‘fight or flight’ response to manage threats such as a lion near our watering hole. We needed to be hyper-vigilant and aware so we could protect ourselves from danger. But what if you aren’t surrounded by lions and there isn’t a real danger? What if you feel this level of anxiety but it’s when you are crossing the street or catching the lift to your office? When your anxiety is constant and out of proportion to the reality of the threat, this is the sign of an anxiety disorder.
Helpful tips for Anxiety
- Seek support from family and friends. Given how common anxiety is, the people around us have probably experienced it as well.
- Practice a relaxation strategy on a daily basis. Like any skill to be able to relax our body is a skill that takes time to learn and master. Daily practice will help you to be able to calm your body, which will in turn help to calm your mind.
- Ensure that you are exercising and eating a balanced diet
- Educate yourself on anxiety, and the difference between thoughts and facts.
- Once you have some coping strategies on board, try to confront rather than avoid what is making you anxious. Avoidance is like food for anxiety that makes it grow!
Often understanding and living with anxiety is difficult to do on your own, and seeking professional help is a good idea.
Speak with your GP, or contact Jessica here.