With so much change and uncertainty in the world right now it's perfectly normal for you to be feeling anxious and overwhelmed. It's important to take care of yourself and manage any anxiety effectively so you can reduce the impact it has on your day-to-day life.
Anxiety is a common issue. In fact, most people will experience it at some point in their lives. Anxiety usually arises in times of uncertainty, ambiguity and novelty- when something is new that we have no frame of reference for.
But what is it exactly, and how can you tell if it’s affecting you?
During the earlier stages of human evolution, anxiety was a useful feeling as it helped people to survive. Health experts call it the ‘fight or flight’ response – that is, when faced with a life-threatening situation, it helped people to be more alert and react more quickly by releasing stress hormones into their bloodstream.
These days, we still have the same response to situations that cause fear or uneasiness. But that response is generally no longer useful because relatively few people face the same levels of life-threatening experiences today that affected our ancestors.
Anxiety can cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms, such as:
- Faster breathing or shortness of breath
- Increased or irregular heart rate
- Feeling tired but not being able to sleep
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Feeling restless, unable to concentrate
- Sweating or having hot flushes
- Feeling constantly on edge
- Fearing the worst (having a sense of dread)
- Feeling that other people are looking at you
- Not being able to stop thinking about negative things
- Not being able to motivate yourself
When is anxiety a problem?
If you experience one or more of the following on a regular basis, you may have higher-than-normal levels of anxiety:
- You constantly worry that something bad will happen
- You always fear the worst
- Everything feels as if it’s going too fast or too slow
- You’re obsessed with negative experiences
- You look out for things that could go wrong all the time
- You’re irritable and find it impossible to relax
- You get flustered easily
Other signs that you may be experiencing anxiety include smoking, drinking and using drugs to help you cope with the way you’re feeling – all of which may stop you enjoying life.
How can you support yourself?
There are several things you can do yourself to manage the symptoms of anxiety:
Eat a balanced diet
It can be tempting to reach for the junk food if you're feeling stressed but try to eat as healthily as possible. Consider avoiding foods such as sugar and caffeine, as they may make feelings of anxiety worse. Cut back on alcohol if necessary, and give up cigarettes if you’re a smoker as this may help you to feel calmer.
Regular exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety through the release of endorphins. If you can, try getting outside for a walk or do some gentle exercises at home. Take a look at our 8 exercises you can do at home or our yoga for anxiety video. Exercise will also help tire out your body making you more able to sleep at night.
Know your triggers
Thanks to modern technology it can be easy to become overloaded and overwhelmed. Try to limit how much news you follow if you know that can make you more anxious or limit your social media use and instead try and do more activities away from your screens. Avoiding light-emitting devices before bed will also help your body wind down and prepare for sleep.
Make time for yourself
Finding time for things that help you unwind can help relieve feelings of anxiety, try running a hot bath or read a book to take your mind off your worries. Breathing exercises can also help whenever you feel anxious – take a look at our mindful breathing exercises.
Talk about it
Try not to bottle up any feelings of anxiety you may be having, as talking about it could help you manage whatever’s causing those feelings. Remember you're not alone in this, the pandemic has a big impact on everyone's lives and we'll all be experiencing it in different ways.
How CABA can help
If your anxiety is impacting your day-to-day life and ability to do your normal tasks it may be time to seek professional help. Speak to your GP or contact us today to find out more about our emotional support.
CABA provides free lifelong support to past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff, and their close family members.
If you’re worried about the impact of the pandemic on you and your family, find out how CABA can support you.