Dealing With Anxiety

Disclaimer

Our content is not intended to be used as a diagnosis. Its purpose is to generate awareness and provide education. If you think you may be experiencing mental health problems, you can reach out to someone you trust for moral support and use the resources listed below for professional help.

Anxiety is our body’s natural response to stress. It is a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come [1]. According to ourworldindata.org, as of 2017 anxiety disorders affect 284 million (approximately 1 in every 27) people in the world. With 2.8% of the male population being affected as well as 4.7% of the female population of the world affected [2].

Anxiety affects both your psychological and physical well being. Some psychological sensations caused by anxiety are [3]:

  • Inability to relax
  • High level of Distress
  • Consistent worry
  • Rumination, excessive mental repetition of thoughts or problems

Some physical sensations associated with anxiety include [3]:

  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Grinding teeth 
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Dizziness 

Apart from the symptoms above according to healthline.com describes how anxiety may feel like. These feelings include [4]:

  • A knife stabbing your chest with each breath you take: Anxiety may manifest itself with physical pain. This is evident in patients reporting of chest pains experienced when dealing anxiety.
  • Like a rain cloud of negativity following your every move: Most people feel a sensation where there is a spewing stream of negativity in their head. 
  • Like an impostor hijacked your regular self: When someone feels anxious, it is common to feel as though someone took over your normal self since you feel like you are not in control.
  • An explosion in your brain sending your thoughts in a spiral: Anxiety tends to fog your brain rendering you unable to think or focus. In essence, it feels as though your thoughts are sent into a spiral.

If you are having issues with anxiety or feel anxious, here are a list of recommendations by healthline.com [5]: 

  • Try meditation: One type of meditation-based therapy called mindfulness-based stress reduction has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms in people with anxiety disorders
  • Exercise regularly: Exercising regularly is a proven method of coping with mental illnesses.
  • Practice yoga: Most people who suffer with anxiety have reported that yoga helps, however more research is needed.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: Diets rich in vegetables, fruits, high-quality meats, fish, nuts and whole grains can lower the risk of developing anxiety disorders, but diet alone is probably not enough to treat them
  • Limit caffeine consumption: Caffeine may cause feelings of anxiety to grow worse
  • Abstain from alcohol: Alcohol abuse and anxiety disorders are strongly linked
  • Quit smoking: Smoking is associated with an increased risk of developing an anxiety disorder. Quitting is associated with improved mental health

If you believe you are experiencing mental health problems, our best advice is to seek out professional resources. Some mental health resources are listed below: 

  • U of T My Student Support Program (My SSP) | 1-844-451-9700. Outside of North America, call 001-416-380-6578. Culturally-competent mental health and counseling services in 146 languages for all U of T students.
  • Good2Talk Student Helpline | 1-866-925-5454. Professional counseling, information and referrals helpline for mental health, addictions and students well-being.
  • Mental Health Resources provided by UofT can also be accessed using the following link: https://mentalhealth.utoronto.ca/

 According to Mental Health First Aid [6], here are some ways you can be an ally to someone who may be experiencing some form of anxiety:

  • Listen non judgmentally: If the person isn’t in a crisis, ask how they feel and how long they have been feeling that way. If they ask, tell them what you have noticed in a non-judgemental manner. Show that you care by allowing them to speak, through the use of clarifying questions and minimal prompts.
  • Give reassurance and information: Your support helps a person go a long way. In doing so, maintain a positive language reminding them that recovery is always possible.
  • Encourage them to seek professional help: There are many qualified individuals who are trained to provide help, that you are unable to provide.
  • Encourage self-help and support strategies: You should enquire whether they have seeked help from family, as well as encourage them to engage in healthy practices such as exercise and meditation.

 

References:

[1] https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety

[2] https://ourworldindata.org/mental-health

[3] https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/anxiety/faq/what-does-anxiety-feel-like/

[4] https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/what-anxiety-looks-like#Like-an-explosion-in-your-brain,-sending-your-thoughts-spiraling-out-of-control

[5] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/anxiety-disorder-symptoms#Natural-Ways-to-Reduce-Anxiety

[6] https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/2018/12/how-to-help-someone-with-anxiety/