Anxiety. Stress. Panic attacks. Depression. As our lovely HR lady said in our most recent Covid training webinar, if you are still feeling great then there is a problem. While lock down has had some benefits for us (working in pjs, coffee at home, no more annoying chewing sounds from the colleague next to you – or is that just me? 😉), it has also caused immense strain.
Two income households have become one or no income households. We are worried about our health, and the health of all of those we love. And we are worried about our jobs and what sort of situations work will ask of us. We are worried about whether or not we should or shouldn’t send our children back to school. And we are worried about getting enough work done in a day and whether we are being productive. We are worried about all sorts of things.
Now, worry and anxiety can be good for us in moderation. It can sharpen our focus and make us aware of things that we wouldn’t normally notice. It can make us work harder and sometimes even perform better. But only in moderation, and only for short periods of time.
The toll that anxiety can take on our body is quite clear.
Long term exposure to stress hormones can lead to many negative effects like weight gain, increased blood pressure, and can even weaken your immune system. Anxiety can also lead to depression, headaches, insomnia and muscle tension (visit healthline.com/health/anxiety/effects-on-body#Respiratory-system for more).
So, how do we deal with anxiety?
Betterhelp.com has some great suggestions. Their first is to make sure you get enough sleep. Sleep has many important benefits – from helping your brain to solidify connections with things that you learnt that day, to preventing weight gain. Of course, if you drinking lots of caffeinated drinks, you should minimise these, firstly because caffeine induces anxiety and secondly because caffeine can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Along with reducing your caffeine intake, you need to make sure that you are eating the right foods and not skipping meals. As betterhelp.com explains – when you are hungry your anxiety increases and this is why you experience “hanger”.
Webmd also suggests doing some physical activity. Exercise creates endorphins which are the hormone that helps you to feel happier. Another suggestion is to schedule your worry time, in other words, plan a certain time in your day for you to spend worrying – say half an hour after lunch.
Try to plan a special time everyday where that is all you do, and then remind yourself that the rest of your day is clear for not worrying. Try to identify what causes your anxiety to spike. Is it in the classroom before a test, is it when you are at the mall, when someone walks past your car window (this was mine for about 2 years after we were hijacked); Once you know what your triggers are you can actively work towards avoiding them (although this may be difficult in a class test situation) or dealing with the situation- (why am I anxious before a test, what can I do to make myself feel less anxious? Have I studied enough and done the work in class that I needed to do?)
Don’t wait, get help.
If you feel that your anxiety is too much for you to cope with on your own, make sure that you seek professional help. Counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists are a wonderful source of support and help. Betterhelp.com has some great contact details for immediate help and support through the phone.
Please don’t wait. If you are struggling with anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed, please talk to someone. There are lots of people who care!
Other available contacts:
sadag.org – South African Depression and Anxiety Group
Teens health help – https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/anxiety-tips.html
Cipla – free mental help in South Africa – https://www.cipla.co.za/mental-health/free-mental-health-resources-in-south-africa/
Therapy route – counsellors and therapists – https://www.therapyroute.com/