Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety is a many-headed beast. It comes in many forms, has many symptoms and affects everyone in different ways.
Some people are only affected in social situations—crowded subways, classrooms, restaurants, the list goes on for those suffering from social anxiety. Others suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)—they’re simply anxious all the time, a heightened baseline anxiety level that never seems to abate. This can be accompanied by intrusive negative thoughts that disrupt various aspects of their day—anxious thoughts that make it difficult to concentrate on things that are important to them, like work, family and sleep.
And still others have debilitating anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks. These can be felt building up before they hit, or they can strike without warning. There is no end to the various ways these symptoms and more can affect sufferers, and the results of these conditions span from the annoying to the downright devastating.
Your Anxiety Toolbox
Right up there with depression and addiction, anxiety is one of the most insidious, complex and misunderstood conditions affecting society today. But take heart—research and development of better treatments and therapies is pushing ever forward, and we know more about how to deal with anxiety than ever before.
There are a great number of ways to treat it, and the results depend on a great number of things—the individual, the types of treatment implemented, how they are implemented in conjunction with each other, how long they are carried out and under what circumstances, and on and on.
Yet the problem for many of us comes down to cost. The vast majority of us don’t have exceptional health insurance or access to top psychiatrists and therapists, let alone the money to afford expensive medications. Heck, financial problems are already a contributing factor to most people’s anxiety as it is. So what recourse is left to those of us already having a hard time paying the bills and putting cornflakes on the table?
Anxiety Supplements is of the mind that mental health isn’t just for those who can afford it. It’s for everyone, and there’s a good deal you yourself can do about your anxiety, at no cost.
In this blog series, we’re going to take a look at how to deal with anxiety by incorporating small practices into your daily life—practical, free tools you can add to your anxiety toolbox to use whenever you feel the need. And remember, just like any tool, the more you use these methods, the more skilled you get with them, and the more effective they become. Let’s take a look at our first tool below.
I know what you’re thinking.
Writing? Are you kidding me? Sigh . . .
But hear me out.
Some of these methods may not be things you’ll love to take part in, nor may you find them particularly easy or enjoyable—at first. But if this stuff were easy, anxiety would’ve been eliminated a long time ago, right? So keep an open mind, and consider a minimum commitment to at least one of the methods in this series for at least a week. The results might surprise you.
Open up a new folder in your computer documents, grab yourself a new spiral notebook, use a stack of napkins if you have to, but find a method of writing that you’re most comfortable with.
Personally, I use a computer. I work on one all day anyway, and I’m much faster at typing than I am at longhand. It’s a form of communication I’m familiar and comfortable with, and that’s what this is about—communicating with yourself.
You’re no doubt already worried about all the reasons why this won’t work. Let’s face it, we’re kind of experts at this type of thinking. Perhaps you don’t know what to write about; you don’t know what to say; you don’t see the point; or worst of all, it just feels like a pointless homework assignment. These are all understandable reactions, and I feel your pain. But in order to deal with anxiety, you’re going to have to try new things—ironic, since new things often make us more anxious—but there it is. The only thing left to do is give it a try—five minutes a day for one week. I double-dog dare you.
Not sure what to write about? Good, this often produces the most surprising results. Start simple and plain: Why are you anxious? Why do you have the anxious thoughts that come out of nowhere? Why the panic attacks that leave you crippled and exhausted?
Not sure why you’re anxious? Write about that. Write about the last time you were anxious, the situation you were in, the circumstances leading up to it.
Are you staring at a blank page with no idea how to start? Write that down. “I have no idea what to say. This is dumb and a waste of time. I’m not even that anxious, really. I only start feeling anxious when I think about . . .” And before you know it, your five minutes are up, and you’re free from this silly exercise until tomorrow.
I know, big surprise—a writer extolling the virtues of writing. But what’s the practical benefit, here? After all, you can’t think your way out of anxiety. And no matter how smart you are, you’re not smart enough to out-think yourself. So how does it help?
Writing, no matter its quality, is a far different mental process than simply thinking about things. It forces you to put actual words to your feelings—it forces you to examine issues in a much more thorough way. It takes the thoughts and feeling swimming around in the mental soup of your brain and plants them directly in front of you. It gives you a way to externalize that which you’ve spent so long only internalizing.
Before long—for some, even right away—you’ll feel a distinct sense of achievement after you write, and the strange notion that you somehow feel . . . better. This is the therapeutic quality of writing, the cathartic result of getting your feelings out and putting them down where you can see them. And make no mistake—writing is most certainly a form of therapy.
What’s more, it gives you something to look back on—a record of your thoughts and feelings, a snapshot of your mindset at a particular moment in time. These references will serve you well into the future, showing you the evolution of your thoughts, feelings and overall mental health as you continue to document your life.
And who knows? After giving it a try, you may soon see yourself going well beyond the five minutes and one week you promised yourself you’d write for. You may even come to make it a priority in your life. You may even come to love it.
However you choose to write, however often, I can promise you this—it is an undeniably positive, beneficial practice that can lead to any number of wonderful things. It may even lead to a career—something that still surprises me to this day.
So I invite you to accept this challenge and see if writing can help you understand, cope with and ultimately mitigate your anxiety. And feel free to share your experience, good or bad, in the comments below. You never know who you may be helping.
Five minutes a day for one week. I double-dog-dare you.
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Walker Kornfeld is a freelance writer and editor specializing in Health and Wellness. Drop him a line at Watchword Writing and Editing Services.
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