Hi friends, I hope life is treating you well! If not, and the reason is Anxiety or Stress, then there's good news. Today, we'll not only discuss more on it but the tips to prevent this as well. So let's quickly understand what is Anxiety and Stress!
Let's discuss Anxiety first! Often misunderstood, Anxiety is not an illness but rather an emotion. It's our natural instinct that protects us from danger. It's normal to feel anxious seeing a speeding car coming right towards you. In short, it is our body's response to something worth demanding our attention! Anxiety can be classified into two parts- GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder). While the latter shares many similarities with Social Phobia and is easily curable with certain precautions, the GAD is something where sometimes the situation gets out of hand.
GAD is the state where you worry in situations that don't even pose any threat. It's a condition where people generally remain worried and sometimes can't even remember what they are worried about. It's like a voice from inside is telling you not to be too happy, rather stay cautious.
fatigue and exhaustion
repeated stomach aches or diarrhea
neurological symptoms, such as numbness or tingling in different parts of the body.
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Anxiety is also a common symptom of many health conditions like depression etc. Some people feel anxiety in post-traumatic stress disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder. This sometimes becomes so intense that the sufferers are risked to suicide. Most of them turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with it. It puts their lives to a halt.
It is recommended to visit the psychiatrist for consultancy and medications. However, there are few tips that one can use and they don't have any repercussions.
1. Understand that you're not ill: As I said earlier, it's not an illness rather an emotion, and we should treat it that way only. Most people think of themselves as someone who is severely ill and this made-up belief proves to be a hindrance later down the road.
2. Don't ignore it: Anxiety, as I said earlier, is for your own good. It makes us focus which is important at the moment. If you put a cap on your emotions, the more they'll be bottled up, which often doesn't end well. Listen to it as it's a voice from within.
3. Feel like you're in control of your life: You should engage in the experiences that give you greater control. People suffering from anxiety, often want to be 100% sure before starting something new. If you're in this dilemma, take a decision and start it badly. Yes, right! G.K. Chesterton once said- If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. Also keeping in mind the idea to start badly speeds-up our decision, takes the anxiety out & fills us with excitement rather.
4. Forgive yourself: You had a panic attack and are embarrassed about it, forgive yourself! Couldn't talk to someone at the party, forgive yourself. You have to take it easy on yourself so you have more room and freedom to start badly.
5. Do it for someone: Research shows that people who have a purpose or someone on their mind, cope with anxiety faster.
When you're stressed out, your heart might be pounding faster, you might be breathing faster and breaking a sweat. People often confuse stress with anxiety based on these symptoms. Stress is a response to physical tension. It's the body's reaction to a challenge or demand. Moreover, stress isn't always a bad thing. It gives us that sudden burst of extra energy and focus. However, continuous exposure to stress results in Chronic Stress which is very harmful to your brain and body.
Chronic stress starts changing your brain and affects brain size, structure and functioning. It releases Cortisol in your brain and which results in the shrinking of the brain. Too much shrinking results in shrinking of the Prefrontal Cortex, part of the brain which regulates behaviors like concentration, decision making, judgment, and social interactions. Shrinking also leads to fewer new brain cells being made in the hippocampus. This means chronic stress might make it harder for you to learn and remember things. It also leads to diseases like depression and Alzheimers.
Cortisol affects your waistline as it increases your appetite. It signals your body to replenish energy reserves with energy-dense foods & carbs which causes you to crave comfort foods.
During stress, our brain activates the Automatic Nervous System or Brain-Gut Connection. It leads to conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and increases your gut sensitivity to acid, making you more likely to feel heartburn. This brain-gut connection changes the composition and function of the gut bacteria, which may affect your digestive and overall health. Stress hormones, though help prepares to fight invaders and heal after injury, chronic stress dampens the function of some immune cells, makes you susceptible to infections and slow healings.
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1. Think of this as our body's way of helping us: There was a Social Stress Test conducted at Harvard University where the participants who were told that this pounding heart, heavy breathing, etc. is good for them, not only they were less stressed-out & confident, but their physical response to stress also changed. As opposed to constricted blood vessels in a typical stress response, their blood vessels were more relaxed. Yes, the heart was still pounding but that's a much healthier cardiovascular profile. It's more like what happens in the moment of joy and courage.
2. Reach out to someone: Oxytocin is a hormone that doesn't only affect your brain but your body too. One of its main roles is to protect your cardiovascular system from the effects of stress. It's also a natural anti-inflammatory. It helps your blood vessels stay relaxed during stress. Your heart has receptors for this hormone and it helps heart cells regenerate and heal from any stress-induced damage. When you reach out to someone either to seek help or help them, you release more of this hormone. Your stress response becomes healthier & you recover fast from stress.
3. Care for others: In a separate study conducted in the U.S. on 1,000 adults, ages ranged from 34 years to 93 years, it was found that people who spent time caring for others showed absolutely no stress-related increase in dying.
4. Meditate and exercise: Meditation helps you to get rid of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your brain and causing stress. Also, Exercise releases Endorphins (also, called “feel-good” chemicals) in your body which triggers a positive feeling.
Whether it’s stress or anxiety, two things are the same while coping with it- not thinking of it as an illness, and having others to care for. I hope this article helped you find the answer to all your long-pending questions on Anxiety and Stress. Have a great day ahead!