what is anxiety and how can it affect you?

Feelings of anxiety can be triggered by many things. Sometimes they can crop up on us before we even know what’s happening. Let’s take a look at what anxiety is, what it looks like, and how it might affect you.

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Anxiety usually arises in times of uncertainty, ambiguity, or novelty – when something is new and we have no frame of reference for it.

It's natural to worry about things like starting a new job or moving house. But once the event has happened, we should be able to relax and move on.

However, sometimes we find it difficult to control our worries and fears. These constant feelings of anxiety then affect our daily life, work, and relationships.

symptoms of anxiety

We often feel anxious when we’re worried, tense, or afraid. Particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future.

Anxiety is a natural response that happens when we consciously or subconsciously feel we’re under threat. It helps us mobilise our resources to cope with that threat.

We can experience anxiety through our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Some of the symptoms of anxiety include:

  • feeling tense or on edge
  • irritability
  • stomach churning or aching
  • racing heart, palpitations, or irregular heartbeat
  • faster breathing or shortness of breath
  • pins and needles
  • feeling restless or unable to sit still
  • reduced ability to focus and concentrate
  • excessive sweating and hot flushes
  • nausea
  • headaches, muscle aches, and tension
  • tiredness alongside insomnia
  • light-headedness or dizziness
  • constantly waiting for something to go wrong
  • panic attacks


“The emotional difficulty had really held me back. Seeing a caba counsellor unlocked that for me and I can see changes in every area of my life.”


caba client

Most people feel anxious sometimes. It's common to experience some anxiety while coping with stressful events or changes, especially if they could have a big impact on your life.

If those feelings are impacting your day-to-day life, it may be time to seek help. Sharing how you feel will lessen your burden and may encourage others to speak up.

when does anxiety become a problem?

Anxiety can become a mental health problem if it impacts on your ability to live your life as fully as you want to.

If you experience one or more of the following on a regular basis, you may have higher than normal levels of anxiety:

  • you experience strong feelings of anxiety, or the anxiety lasts for a long time
  • your fears or worries are out of proportion with the situation
  • you avoid situations that might cause you anxiety
  • your worries are distressing or hard to control
  • you regularly experience symptoms of anxiety, which could include panic attacks
  • you find it hard to go about your everyday life or do things you enjoy
  • you obsess over negative experiences

our emotional support

If you're worried about your mental health and wellbeing, talk to us. From a listening ear, to counselling sessions with a qualified counsellor, we'll help you work through any difficulties you're facing.

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Written by mental health expert Kirsty Lilley

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your questions answered 

Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and the family and carers of members and students. 

  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
  2. ACA students (ICAEW Provisional Members) who are either an active student or have been an active student within the last three years are eligible for caba's services 
  3. Past and present staff members of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's services for life, even if you leave either organisation. Please note, for former employees, our financial support is only available to those who have had five years continuous employment with either organisation 
  4. Family members and carers of either an eligible past or present ICAEW member, ACA student or past or present employee of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's support. We define a family member as a: 
    1. spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner 
    2. widow, widower or surviving civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    3. divorced spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    4. child aged up to 25. Please note, children aged between 16 and 25 are not eligible for individual financial support 
    5. any other person who is dependent on the eligible individual supporting them financially or are reliant on the eligible individual’s care 
    6. any other person on whom the eligible individual is reliant, either financially or for care 

You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer  page. 

Are your services means-tested?

If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.  

*Please note none of our other services are means-tested. 

I’m an accountant, but not a member of ICAEW, can you still help?

Unfortunately not. We only support past and present ICAEW members, their carers and their families. If we are unable to support you, where possible we will point you to help elsewhere.

caba has supported me in the past; can I receive support from caba again?

We understand that circumstances change. If we’ve helped you in the past there’s no reason why we can’t help you again. You can contact us at any time. Please call us if you need our help.

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