Anxiety is often misunderstood as we sometimes define anxiety as fear. Fear is an emotion that indicates to us when there is danger so that we can protect ourselves. An example of this is when a car cuts you off in traffic. Immediately, you have that rush of adrenaline, your reflexes swiftly respond and you swerve to get out of the way. In this instance, your fear just helped you to avoid an accident. Another example is when you have a unique event in your life like a wedding or an upcoming presentation at work and you might feel fear which could cause you to be more motivated and focused. Resulting in a great performance and a successful day.
Anxiety is different as it is not an emotion, it is a response to our fear. What this means is that we feel fear and respond to it with nervousness, worry and unease. The average person will experience some anxiety in their life and when it occurs they effectively manage it. Other people will struggle to control their anxiety. Sometimes anxiety keeps people up at night as their thoughts swirl around with the question “what if” as they try to figure out ways to prevent an uncertain outcome. Worry becomes their focus and they start to change their lives to avoid any perceived unpleasantness. Which often results in withdrawing from family and/or friends and limiting their activities as they find their home more controllable and therefore safe.
This is unhealthy.
Here are some questions which will help you to figure out if your anxiety has become unhealthy:
1. Is your worry present most days?
2. Is your worry uncontrollable?
3. Do you feel restless, keyed up and unable to relax most days?
4. Do you physically feel your anxiety? (example body pains or headaches)
5. Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?
6. Do you have difficulties focusing on tasks due to your thoughts?
7. Do you feel tired or irritable?
If you answered yes to most of the questions above, its time to have a mental health checkup. A mental health checkup is like any other health related checkup as a Registered Psychotherapist can quickly determine if there is a problem and help you get back to enjoying life.
If you do not know where to turn for assistance, please contact our office as we are always willing to help.
Trish Pauls, MA RP
Hope Encouragement Laughter Peace Psychotherapy Services