Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a relentless cycle of worry, where you’re worrying about everything and anything? When as soon as you deal with one issue, another worry appears? Do you ever experience a constant stream of “what ifs” that refuse to be silenced? Or an endless feeling of edginess, nerves, and unease, that feels impossible to shift?
What could this be?
If the above sounds similar you might be experiencing Generalized Anxiety. But you are not alone as this type of anxiety affects millions of people worldwide and is one of the most reported mental health conditions in mental health settings.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a common type of anxiety disorder characterized by persistent and excessive worrying about various aspects of life. It can feel like a whirlwind of never-ending worries and a constant feeling of dread, even in the absence of a trigger or actual threat. Some of the physical symptoms of GAD include restlessness, muscle tension, poor sleep, and fatigue.
Although anxiety and worry are common human experiences, for some, it becomes a formidable force that affects every aspect of their life. Worry can be a natural response to life’s uncertainties, but when it is continuous and intrusive, it can have an impact on our well-being. Excessive worry and anxiety can impair our focus, productivity, ability to enjoy daily activities, and even our relationships.
Now I’m worried, what can I do to help myself?
We recognize that facing anxiety head on or trying to curb your worries may feel daunting, you might be overwhelmed with where to start.
Here we share 4 things that you can try today to help you manage your anxiety.
4 tips for dealing with GAD:
Practice relaxation: Techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation can help activate the body’s calm state. When we are anxious, we often find ourselves in a fight or flight state; our heart races, stress hormones are released, and our muscles tense up. Relaxation techniques can be a powerful signal to the brain to slow down. These techniques slow down the nervous system, reduces stress hormones, and promotes a state of calmness. YouTube has various scripts and guided practices to help you with deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation.
Embrace mindfulness: This involves fully engaging with the present moment without judgement. Mindfulness can help anchor you in the present moment and reduce anxious thoughts. Apps like Headspace, Calm and Insight offer a variety of guided mindfulness (and relaxation) exercises that can help you practice these techniques in a structured way.
Journaling: Writing down your worries, thoughts and feelings can give you clearer understanding of your difficulties. It can help you organise your thoughts, gain insight into the content of your worries, identify patterns. Writing your thoughts can help you develop a better understanding of the triggers, and feelings associated with your worries. This can help your worries feel less overwhelming and more manageable.
Prioritize Self-Care: Ensure you’re looking after yourself, by getting adequate rest, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and engaging in activities that bring you a sense of calm and enjoyment.
Some may find that seeking professional help is essential and a crucial step towards effectively managing anxiety and regaining control over their life.
Professional support can help with exploring the root cause and maintaining factors of your anxiety. In therapy we aim to disrupt this vicious cycle of worry and evidence-based therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help you gain insights into your worries, identify thought patterns, and equip you with skills to manage anxiety and reframe negative beliefs.
As terrifying and cyclical as anxiety may feel, with the right support and set of strategies you can overcome GAD.
Written by: Dr Bisi Laniyan