Understanding Anxiety: What It Is And What You Should Know
Did you ever feel uneasy before a crucial presentation or experience some severe nervousness prior to a life-altering decision? These are the kinds of anxiousness that everyone experiences commonly in their day to day life. This kind of anxiety is harmless and is rather helpful. Anxiety is a default response to stressful situations. It is a natural mechanism that has been developed through hundreds of years of evolution for us to survive and cope with stress.
From an evolutionary standpoint, anxiety in doses has been crucial to the survival of humans under life-threatening situations. When confronted with imminent dangers, the flight-or-fight response kicks in, this causes the adrenal glands in the medulla oblongata to pump a dose of adrenaline into your body, which in turn triggers anxiety-related responses.
What Anxiety Feels Like?
As the hunter-gatherer lifestyle has long died away, anxious feelings are now directed towards other human concerns, situations that call for heightened awareness or through consideration. These can be things like big decisions, monetary challenges, unexpected emergencies, health issues, relationship issues, etc.
The day to day feelings of anxiety can range from feelings of worry, dread, nervousness, unease or distress. Anxiety in stressful situations makes a person more aware of the situation on hand, and their feeling surrounding it, thus helping them navigate through such difficult scenarios. A little bit of nervousness before can help you perform better, the dread before making decisions can help you think through it better, and the worrisome feelings can indicate the importance of the situation and help you act accordingly.
What Happens To Your Body When You Are Having Anxiety?
Remember the adrenaline that gets pumped into your body when anxiety kicks in? Yup, it makes your heart race like a horse. Hyperventilation can also lead to palpitations during anxious times.
One simple way to deal with this is to breathe right. Breathing in a relaxed manner will calm it down. It also helps to step back from things to give yourself some room to think things put in a much clearer headspace if and when possible.
It is again a defense mechanism, but this one’s for your brain rather than you as a whole. When the unprepared brain is hit with more than what it can take, it gets overwhelmed, the dizziness is caused by your brain trying to cope with it.
With your heart racing and adrenaline pumping, your blood flow increases. This, in turn, causes the body temperature to rise, resulting in excessive sweating (trying to cool down your body). Thus sweating, to an extent can help you too. However, prolonged and excessive sweating can lead to dizziness and in some cases fainting.
Nausea is one of the most commonly experienced feelings during anxious times. It’s your body’s way of trying to get rid of the uneasiness, negativity, and stress. When the feelings are internalized, nausea comes as a knee-jerk reaction trying to kick the uncomfortable feeling out of your body.
What To Do When You’re Anxious?
- Recognize the feeling. It is important to give value to the felling and accept that you’re anxious.
- Breathing exercises. Slow, long, and relaxed breathing is the easiest and quickest way to cope with anxiety in any situation.
- Write it down. Make a note of things that make you anxious. It helps you keep track of triggers and this can help you develop coping mechanisms.
- Talk. Talking (or rather venting) to a trusted one is a healthy way to ease out the heaviness you might feel in those moments.
- Physical activity can also help you with putting the excessive adrenaline to good use. A short workout session or even a walk outdoors will do the trick.
It is important to remember that general anxiety is different from anxiety disorders. While general anxiousness can be dealt with with some personal efforts, anxiety disorders need professional help and medication.