Anxiety is a natural state that everybody experiences and that is designed to protect and prepare individuals. A healthy amount of anxiety can enhance performance and serves to protect us from danger.
However, transient anxiety becomes problematic and may be symptomatic of an anxiety disorder when it is persistent, highly distressing and impairs everyday functioning – making it difficult or even impossible to carry out the things we need to do at work, school or with our loved ones. Recent events are a good example of this type of anxiety. Constant media updates, increased security and continual warnings can overtake our day-to-day lives.
At these moments, it’s important to keep in mind that although a certain amount of anxiety is normal, there are some things that could take normal anxiety and make it abnormal. Specifically:
- Sleep: Maintain as regular a sleep/wake time as possible. Don’t stay up watching news coverage all night. Instead, shut off your tablet and phone and watch a comedy before falling asleep.
- Alcohol: Some people try to cope with stress and anxiety by using alcohol. However, alcohol can make it less likely that you will use healthy coping strategies in the moment, may increase the number of stressors in one’s life and can make anxiety even worse the next day.
- Avoidance: We all tend to stay away from things that we don’t like, but if we do so because the thing in question causes us fear or anxiety, we may actually be perpetuating the fear.
Know Your Own Cues
Mental health is a state of emotional and psychological well-being and balance.
Maintaining that mental well-being and balance is different for everyone — some people use yoga, exercise, religion or other activities to try and keep themselves balanced and feeling well.
In addition to those personal activities, another important way individuals can work to maintain their own mental health is by knowing their own cues that something is off. We often know when we’re off balance and things just don’t feel right. Cultivating that self-awareness so that we can identify moments of struggle is a way we can help prevent larger issues. It’s important to ask yourself: When you feel anxious, how long does it normally last? How are you able to cope with it and/or manage those feelings? If you know those details about yourself, you’ll be able to more easily identify moments when anxiety is lasting a bit too long or interfering too much with your everyday life — and then get the help you might need.
The Family Institute offers affordable, effective mental health counseling for families, couples and individuals in Evanston, Chicago, Northbrook and Westchester. Learn more about our services on our website.