It is not uncommon to feel worried or stressed in our everyday lives. Occasionally we find ourselves taking on too much and feeling unsure if we can do it all. Other times we may dread going to work, meetings, or social events. However, at what point does every day worry or stress become anxiety?
Everyday stress and worry tend to be more contextual; meaning, you can compartmentalize whatever is going on for you, it is manageable, or it can be a motivating factor to get tasks done. Anxiety, however, can be exhausting, depressing, and ever-present no matter how hard you try not to let it bother you.
Anxiety is sneaky and can work its way into our lives in different ways. Some of us may have constant and high levels of worry about nothing specific, while others may only fear social events because they’re concerned about offending someone, being judged, or embarrassing themselves. Sometimes we might worry about leaving our home even if it’s to go shopping, go out for a meal, or run errands.
It can also feel very different for everyone. I have had people describe it like a drowning sensation that never really goes away, or feeling unable to concentrate on whatever is in front of them because they are so in their head. Some people may feel anxiety in their body through frequent headaches or stomachaches, or other physiological symptoms. It is difficult to generalize what anxiety feels like since it affects people in a wide variety of ways.
Nevertheless, there are a few questions to ask yourself if you are still not sure if anxiety has snuck into your lifei:
- Have I had panic attacks and worried about having more?
- Do I have trouble sleeping or concentrating because I am worried about something? Or because my mind won’t shut off?
- Do I go out of my way to avoid objects or situations that make me anxious?
- Do I feel anxious about things more often and more intensely than others around me?
- Am I fearful about being embarrassed in public?
- Do I get headaches, stomach aches, or other bodily sensations from feeling anxious?
If you find yourself relating to any of these questions, then don’t worry (just kidding!) but really, you’re not alone. Anxiety is the most common mental health difficulty that people live with. It affects 12% of British Columbian’s which works out to approximately 1 in 8 peopleii. Contrary to what we may think, however, it does not need to be “cured.” In fact, it should be embraced! Now you’re probably wondering, “Why the heck do I want to embrace something that causes me so much distress?” Embracing anxiety can be helpful for recognizing your emotions and triggers to feeling anxious and overwhelmed so you can develop a toolbox of coping mechanisms and skills to handle anxiety as it comes up in your life.
How can counselling help?
It can feel cathartic and be relieving to express your worries and fears to someone who can relate. Additionally, counsellors can help you to figure out how to develop a toolbox of skills to embrace anxiety! Tools vary from person to person, but some can include meditation, relaxation and breathing techniques, cognitive behavioural therapy, worksheets, art therapy, the list is endless! There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to living with anxiety, living with it depends on you as a person and how you want to embrace it. If you are not sure about counselling and/or would still like to learn about embracing anxiety, then take a look at the resources below or give us a call!
Alannah McIntee is the one of two new interns at Alongside You. Studying at Adler University she has a keen interest in working with kids and we’re excited to have her on board!
Anxiety BC: www.anxietybc.com
Candian Mental Health Association: https://cmha.bc.ca
HealthLink BC: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/anxty
[i] Canadian Mental Health Association: British Columbia Division. (2013). Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved July 13, 2018, from https://cmha.bc.ca/documents/anxiety-disorders/#could I
[ii] Canadian Mental Health Association: British Columbia Division. (2013). Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved July 13, 2018, from https://cmha.bc.ca/documents/anxiety-disorders/#could i