When to “Worry” About Anxiety
While every generation has hardships and stories to tell, it is quite difficult to refute that we are living in uncertain times. From large-scale global and national political unrest down to everyday personal problems and worries, there always seems to be something going on that can lead to feelings of stress, unease and anxiousness.
Most of the time, some level of mild anxiety is manageable, and even considered by experts to be normal. In fact, some short-term anxiety related to positive stress (eustress), is perceived to be within normal coping abilities for most people, and can lead to feelings of excitement, increased motivation and improved performance, according to Brock University.
However, if improperly managed, long-term, unhealthy levels of anxiety can progress to become an anxiety disorder. While extremely common, with almost 40 million adults suffering from some form of anxiety disorder as reported by the National Institute of Mental Health, early treatment can sometimes help prevent advanced stages of anxiety.
What is the Difference between Mild Anxiety and Serious Anxiety?
Sometimes, it can be hard to distinguish what is “normal” with regards to everyday anxiety, and at what level it is starting to become problematic and interfere with daily routines and responsibilities. For instance, almost everyone has experienced a sleepless night due to anxiety. Generally, mild anxiety means that symptoms of anxiety may be present but are not all-encompassing, and are still more occasional than constant. It is still possible to fully function at work while enjoying a healthy social and personal life as well. Symptoms may include feeling periodically restless, nervous, nauseous or shaky, but they aren’t debilitating. Instead, symptoms may seem like a mild annoyance, but they are controllable.
Of course, there are sometimes just enough triggers or events that push even the most composed individual to reach a breaking point. Sometimes, it is necessary to have a full-blown crying session to release all the built-up stress, tension and anxious emotions that built up over a series of minor events, like juggling tight deadlines at work the same week that a goldfish died or the car broke down. A mild meltdown is normal now and then, and then life is usually resumed as normal.
Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, develop when people frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms can be severe and even present in physical ways, such as fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, chronic insomnia, headaches and more. Daily functioning is compromised, as anxious worry becomes all-consuming. Because there are so many different types of anxiety disorders, from specific phobias to generalized anxiety disorder, professional guidance is recommended for a proper diagnosis, which also ensures the best treatment.
Healthy, Natural Ways to Manage Mild Anxiety
Lifestyle modifications can be extremely effective in managing mild to moderate anxiety, and is one of the top recommended treatments from WebMD. Exercise is at the head of the list, with experts advising to get the heart rate pumping for at least 30 minutes. Whether it’s a brisk walk or a more engaging activity, any form of exercise is better than sitting on the couch and trying to void anxious emotions with junk food.
Deep breathing is another highly recommended activity to relieve mild anxiety, as suggested by WebMD. Research has proven that breathing exercises can lower blood pressure, as reported by Harvard Health, among many other reputable sources. Guided practices are available online, but even simple, deep breaths in and out through the nose as well as the mouth for several minutes can calm the parasympathetic nervous system. Experts at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine confirm that breathing can have a profound impact on physiology and overall health. Breath work, called pranayama, is often a regular part of yoga practice. Therefore, this can explain why yoga is often a popular doctor-recommended activity that can provide multiple health benefits.
Visualization is another well-known technique that experts suggest when experiencing anxiety-inducing situations. According to WebMD, a therapist or meditation trainer proposes a relaxing image to focus on in the mind. Next, soothing sounds and scents are introduced or conjured. For instance, a beach scene with crashing waves and the scent of the fresh ocean air is visualized. Often, just visualizing this mental escape is enough to help ward off mild anxiety during times of stress.
Natural remedies are also useful in relieving mild anxiety. Many times, deficiencies in the body can lead to anxiety, such as magnesium deficit. Magnesium is actually responsible for healthy functioning of many systems of the body, and can even promote healthy sleep when used for restless nights. Some probiotics have also been linked to healthier moods, as many new studies have found a strong correlation between gut health and overall well-being.
At the end of the day, if your feelings of anxiety or anxiousness are interfering with your day-to-day activities, be sure to seek the advice of a medical professional.