General anxiety is very common and is actually a normal and healthy response to certain events. However, experiencing too much anxiety can be debilitating and even affect one’s quality of life.
This is when mental health becomes heavily impacted by anxiety, and may even result in an anxiety disorder.
The Department of Health & Human Services identifies five major types of anxiety disorders:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Panic Disorder (including panic attacks)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Social Anxiety Disorder
There are also thought to be six common causes of anxiety.
Worry is an emotion that can help protect us from certain situations or even prevent certain tragedies from happening. However, excessive worrying turns into anxiety.
Anxious feelings from excessive worrying cause a person to become increasingly concerned over what could happen and what may not even happen.
One way to reduce excessive worrying is to simply talk it out. Confide in someone you trust, such as a friend, family member, or even a therapist.
In fact, therapists can suggest things like talking, journaling, and even cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help individuals turn their thoughts around.
Emotional tension is another natural part of life, as not everyone agrees with each other at all times. However, too much emotional tension can lead to anxiety, and it can also lead to physical tension.
Physical tension, such as the constant clenching of the jaw, can lead to migraine headaches, toothaches, and other physical problems.
The best way to ease the feelings of anxiety resulting from tension is to distract yourself from what’s causing you tension for a moment. Listen to some relaxing music, read a book, practice yoga, and meditation, or take a walk.
This is especially helpful if your tension is a result of something you can’t control.
Stress is a very well-known feeling, and like all other emotions, it can be helpful and beneficial. Unfortunately, the majority of people experience too much stress— for whatever reason— and too much stress is linked to both physical and mental health issues, including anxiety.
It’s really important to understand how to calm yourself during stressful times to reduce anxiety and your risk of certain health problems. Stress can come from a variety of things in a person’s life, and coupled with anxiety, it can feel like an endless cycle. Some of the most popular stress-reducing methods involve self-care.
Everyone has made a few mistakes at some point in their lives and has felt shame as a result of those mistakes. This is actually another good emotion to feel because shame will allow us to improve so we don’t make those mistakes again. On the other hand, holding on to shame can create feelings of anxiety that stem from poor self-worth.
Holding on to shame in this way produces negative inner thoughts. Although it’s good to experience shame, remember not to beat yourself up over it. Your inner thoughts should sound more like “Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s important that I learn from this and move on.”
Fear is another very common and helpful emotion. In fact, fear can be life-saving because it tells you not to do something that can result in you getting seriously hurt or killed. However, irrational fears (fears that pose no real threat to a person’s well-being) are what can cause anxiety.
One of the biggest examples of irrational fear is public speaking, and many people have this fear. This fear can trigger all of the above emotions and feelings as well.
Angst is a complex, yet normal emotion (fear, frustration, and worry all combined) that many people experience. Not understanding who you are, how you fit into the world and worrying about the state of the world can all lead to feelings of angst. Constant feelings of angst often turn into anxiety and sometimes even depression.
Making time to spend with family and friends can help reduce these feelings, as can making time for your favorite activities (or discovering a new hobby). A gratitude journal may also help with these feelings, and so can talking to a therapist.
All emotions are healthy (to an extent) and a natural part of life. However, if you’ve determined that your emotions are causing anxiety and/or other negative outcomes, it’s best to consult a professional.