Let’s Talk About Anxiety
post by Si Martin
It’s Mental Health Awareness week! And the theme for MHAW this year is ‘anxiety’. So we take a bit of a dive into anxiety in this video. Watch below, or read it underneath! And if you’ve got something that’s helped you cope with anxiety, drop a comment & help us share it with others.
Hey. Come here.
It’s about time we talk about anxiety.
Where does anxiety come from?
From an evolutionary perspective, anxiety has been.. Kinda helpful! Our ancestors needed to be alert and prepared for potential danger, in order to survive. It’s where our “fight or flight” response has come from. And we can go into that a little deeper in another video. But the short version is: our bodies perceive threats, and release hormones, and switch up our body’s functions, ready to either fight the danger, or run away from it.
You’ve probably experienced this! Maybe you’ve stepped out into the road and not seen a car coming, and straight away jumped back. Because of that in-built reaction, you were able to jump out of the way quickly, and be around to watch this video.
How do we recognise anxiety in ourselves?
Because of our fight or flight reaction, you might notice something very physical, like racing heart, sweating or feeling sick. It might be that you catch yourself actively avoiding certain situations, activities, people or places. Or maybe you notice that you worry more than usual about everyday events or situations. Like a proper panic, rather than just going about your daily life.
So what’s the difference between general nervousness and full blown anxiety?
We all worry about stuff. It’s ok. It’s part of being human. But anxiety is like that feeling turned up to the max, and generally lasts for a longer time. And remember we mentioned the fight or flight response? And the example I gave about jumping back from a car coming at you?
In that example, it’s a very clear threat right there that causes your reaction. Or maybe you’re facing a big test, or having to do some sort of public speaking. Easy to see why you might start to sweat, in those scenarios, right? But with anxiety, there’s not always a clear, obvious reason to point to. You might feel like something bad is going to happen, or like you’re not good enough, or that people won’t like you.
And you get those physical symptoms like feeling sick. Or maybe you find it hard to do everyday things like going to school, hang out with friends, or even just get out of bed in the morning. So while everyone feels nervous sometimes, anxiety is when those feelings become super intense, and start to take over your life.
But there are a few things that can help! So I just wanna leave you with:
3 things that can help with anxiety.
If you hate gym class as much as I did, you’ll be sick of hearing this. But exercise is great. It releases endorphins that boost your mood, while reducing stress hormones, and helps you sleep better, which is gonna help you beyond just managing anxiety. There’s also a theory that we need to do something physical in reaction to our body’s fight or flight response to feel like the threat has passed and we’re safe again. Which leads me onto..
Taking some slow, deep breaths helps kick your parasympathetic nervous system into gear, which basically tells your body that everything’s chill, and you can relax.
Try breathing in for a count of 4, holding for 4, and breathing out for a count of 8.
Another one you can try is breathing in through your nose, then breathing in again through your nose, before you breathe out. This double breath is also apparently great with long distance running. So. Double points if you use it to help you exercise more.
Keep a journal
Get stuff out of your head and onto a page. Once it’s in the real world and you can look back over the words, it can help detangle some of the thoughts that anxiety gets you caught up in. Doesn’t have to make sense. Doesn’t have to look pretty. I sometimes just scribble all over the page, if that’s what it feels like in my brain. And if you really wanna be a star pupil. Try writing down things that you’re grateful for about each day. It can literally start to rewire your brain to look for good things, rather than just watching out for threats.
So once you understand a lil bit about anxiety, how to spot it, and have a few things to try in your toolkit, it means you’re a little more prepared to help yourself, or a pal manage anxiety, and stop it taking over your life.
You got this. We’re right here with you.
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