Living with the A word

Anxiety is a term we use to describe feelings of unease, worry and fear. It combines both the emotions and the physical vibrations we might experience when we are apprehensive or tense about something.

Throughout our lives, we’ve all come across stressful events or life changing decisions that end up making us feel nervous and tense. For instance:

  • Sitting for an exam
  • Going for a job interview
  • Starting a new job
  • Having a baby
  • Getting married/ separated

It’s common to feel anxious about these situations and what the outcome may be. Some people may also find it difficult to sleep, eat or even focus. Anxiety disorders are not limited to age and can range from mild to incapacitating. Fortunately, there are lots of ways out there that help people with anxiety live very normal and happy lives.

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What does Anxiety really feel like?

I don’t think many people realize how challenging life can be for people who suffer from anxiety and panic disorders and despite the many advancements in Fiji, things such as anxiety disorders still have a lot of stigma attached. If someone is having a panic attack, people will think they’re ‘crazy’ and probably should be ‘locked up’ at St Giles.

Nevertheless, a few months ago, I attended a Charity Gala Dinner for Mental Health Awareness with my family. This event turned out to be a great night with lots of fun and at the same time created awareness and a sense of acceptance for mental health. Baby steps 🙂

Having anxiety can make a person feel fearful and uncertain virtually all the time.

Some common psychological sensations:

  • Feeling on edge/ agitated
  • Having a sense of dread
  • Fearing the worst
  • Dwelling on negative experiences
  • Over thinking situations
  • Feeling restless
  • Feeling numb

Some common physical sensations:

  • Nausea
  • Feeling light-headed
  • Heavy breathing
  • Hot flushes
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Insomnia
  • Going to the toilet more frequently
  • Panic attacks

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What causes anxiety?

Here are a few probable factors that may cause anxiety:

  • Past or childhood experiences.  Disturbing experiences from the past can make people feel anxious about facing similar circumstances all over again and possibly will stir up the same feelings of distress.
  • Everyday life. The way you spend your time and your day-to-day habits can affect the way you feel. For instance, exhaustion/ stress, long work hours, pressure at home/ work/ study and financial issues are some experiences that profoundly contribute to anxiety.
  • Diet. There are certain foods that have the ability to affect our mood and trigger symptoms of anxiety, such as: caffeine, too much sugar and food low in nutrients.
  • Physical health. Chronic physical health conditions make people more vulnerable to mental health problems.
  • Drugs or Medication that you are taking. This includes prescription medication, street drugs and even alcohol.

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Things not to say to an anxious person

  1. “Calm down”
  2. “Relax”
  3. “Knock it off”
  4. “It’s not that bad”
  5. “You’re overreacting”
  6. “You just want attention”
  7. “You’re going to do that now”
  8. “You have nothing to panic about”
  9. “You just need to think happy thoughts”
  10. “Why do you always ruin my good time?”

The person having anxiety/ panic attack is feeling real fear and their response is out of their control. Please help support your friend or loved one who needs to be reassured that everything is okay and that you are there for them. Give love and support, it makes a big difference and helps them tremendously.

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In my head, I always wanted this post to be a lot more personal then it is but I hope some of you can relate to it.

Thank you ❤

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