Anxiety is a scary and unavoidable part of life. It is a biological function that serves a purpose to protect us. While many people are experiencing anxiety due to the current COVID-19 situation, know that it is perfectly normal to feel concerned when facing a health issue – especially one of this nature. Since we are facing unprecedented health, financial and social issues, there are many reasons to be concerned. It is important to be cautious and aware without letting the worries and fears take over your life and mind.
Anxiety is meant to protect us from danger. When saber tooth tigers and other big creatures roamed the earth in ancient times, anxiety was meant to alert us to the need to run away or hide from the dangers we were facing. Our world has changed significantly since then, and although being eaten by a saber tooth tiger is no longer a concern, anxiety is still a thing we experience.
The mind has three ways it can respond to anxiety: flight, fight, or freeze. Our body also physically responds when feeling anxious. The first is that adrenaline rushes through our system. Also, our heart and breathing increase. In addition, some people may experience headaches, feeling dizzy, or even sweating.
One way to be alert without letting anxiety overwhelm you is by being aware of signs & symptoms your and your family may experience. The primary sign of anxiety is worry that is excessive or extreme and is difficult to control. This can be seen in many different ways: It can show in sleeping issues, having a hard time focusing, tension, being tired, feeling as though you are on edge, being irritable, avoiding situations that could cause anxiety – as well as in exhibiting the physical symptoms. Some people experience fidgeting, sweating, rapid heart beat, or shaking. For other people there are less obvious physical signs including stomach issues or appearing angry or irritated.
Anxiety is a completely normal and healthy thing to experience. If it is something you struggle with, there are ways to address it. There are coping skills and tools you can use when feeling anxious. Some examples of coping skills people find helpful include deep breathing because it allows your body to slow the heart; other coping mechanisms include breathing down or fidgeting with things that are unobtrusive – like a pen cap during a meeting. If this is not enough, you can also participate in therapy and, if a doctor finds it appropriate, using medication.
Written by Heather Barner, RMCHI, MS, CBHC CSU Clinician
Cherney, K. (2009, June 17). 12 Effects of Anxiety on the Body. Retrieved July 09, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/effects-on-body
Anxiety Symptoms. (n.d.). Retrieved July 09, 2020, from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/symptoms