Although the emotions of fear and worry may seem quite similar to each other, they are very distinct emotions. Fear can be more involuntary, passing with time or with the ending of the fear eliciting situation. Worry, however, may last longer and can continue to affect us despite the passing of the situation that led to it. Worrying, owing to its anticipatory nature, can result in a dependence on set patterns of behaviors to help us cope with unfamiliar, unrealistic or ill-defined threats. Some of these patterns of behaviors can be unhealthy and may start to affect other parts of our life as well. Anxiety is a natural response to too much worrying. When the experience of worry and anxiety becomes prolonged, it can turn into an anxiety disorder. This experience can have its effect on every part of our life and can stop us from carrying out daily tasks effectively.
Feeling worried and anxious can have the following manifestations in our body, mind and behavior:
- Physical: Heightened heart-beat, sweating and fast breathing, loose bowel movement and stomach churning, dry mouth, feeling dizzy, inability to eat, tensing up of muscles
- Emotional/psychological: Feelings frozen or the inability to move, complete numbness or the inability to feel anything, poor concentration, constantly feeling edgy and unsafe, lowered threshold to dealing with other emotions
- Behavioral: Avoiding social situations, inactivity or reducing activity, seeking reassurance, substance abuse, not being able to fulfill daily responsibilities
Here are some suggestions to help manage worry and anxiety:
- De-stressing activities: It can help to take a step back from the problem and to try some de-stressing activities like yoga, meditate, dancing, or listening to music.
- Deep breathing: When experiencing anxiety or worry, our breathing can become shallow and labored. It is, therefore, helpful to slow our breathing and take deeper breaths but to do it in a comfortable manner.
- Foods to avoid: Sugar, caffeine and alcohol are considered to have an aggravating effect on worry and anxiety and it is best to avoid them when we are trying to manage these experiences.
- Sufficient sleep: We can benefit from trying to sleep for at least eight hours a day, as a well-rested mind and body are less prone to anxiety and worry.
- Balanced diet: Having a balanced diet is important to overall physical and mental health.
- Accessing support: Talking to a close friend or a family member who can listen to us without judgment can have a very healing effect.
- Journaling: Writing down our thoughts and feelings so that we may better understand them and work towards controlling them to overcome our worry and anxiety.
Worry and anxiety can be managed by making changes in our life and by seeking help through therapy or support groups. However, if these experiences become prolonged and are starting to affect how we functions in our day to day life, it becomes necessary to consult professional help.
iCALL offers trained and qualified counselors who can help provide the support needed to overcome the distress brought about by worry and anxiety.