Being a member of the wellness community here in Vallarta, I have seen an increase in anxiety in patients of all ages and from all walks of life. Anxiety has no boundaries; it affects us all.
Clearly, the state of our collective affairs and the pace of things keep things stirred up. Then, add family situations, moving around, health challenges, financial responsibilities, etc. And a lot of frustration about how things are shaping up.
So, I thought it was time to take a closer look and figure out how we human beings can get grounded.
When an individual faces potentially harmful or worrying triggers, feelings of anxiety are not only normal but necessary for survival.
Since the earliest days of humanity, the approach of predators and incoming danger has set off alarms in the body and allowed evasive action. These alarms become noticeable through a raised heartbeat, sweating, and increased sensitivity to surroundings.
The danger causes a rush of adrenalin, a hormone and chemical messenger in the brain, which triggers these anxious reactions in a process called the ‘fight-or-flight’ response. This prepares humans to physically confront or flee any potential threats to safety.
Running from larger animals and imminent danger is a less pressing concern for many people than it would have been for early humans. Anxieties now revolve around work, money, family life, health, and other crucial issues that demand a person’s attention without necessarily requiring the ‘fight-or-flight’ reaction.
The nervous feeling before a significant life event or during a difficult situation is a natural echo of the original ‘fight-or-flight’ reaction. It can still be essential to survival – anxiety about being hit by a car when crossing the street, for example, means that a person will instinctively look both ways to avoid danger.
The duration or severity of an anxious feeling can sometimes be out of proportion to the original trigger or stressor. Physical symptoms, such as increased blood pressure and nausea, may also develop. These responses move beyond anxiety into an anxiety disorder.
The APA (American Psychological Association) describes a person with anxiety disorder as ‘having recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns.’ Once anxiety reaches the stage of a disorder, it can interfere with daily function.
While several different diagnoses constitute anxiety disorders, symptoms often include the following:
- restlessness, and a feeling of being ‘on edge’
- uncontrollable feelings of worry
- concentration difficulties
- sleep difficulties, such as problems falling or staying asleep
While these symptoms might be expected to be experienced in daily life, people with anxiety disorder will experience them at persistent or extreme levels and may present as vague, unsettling worry or a more severe anxiety that disrupts day-to-day living.
The effects of anxiety can manifest both psychologically and physically. Some of the most common physical symptoms can include nausea, sweats, head tension and headaches, uncontrolled muscle movements, and rashes.
Hair loss is one side effect of anxiety that is not commonly mentioned. Most people don’t correlate anxiety to their hair loss because it’s rarely discussed when we talk about mental health struggles today.
However, anxiety can affect your hair, and it can be incredibly distressing when it does. The aesthetic is hard to accept, as are the questions of what’s going on with our underlying health and wellness. This adds to the stresses, becoming a complex cycle to break.
Hair loss is not caused by anxiety but rather the stress brought on by everyday difficulties, which can compound over time if not addressed. As we already know, stress and anxiety have an intense impact on many facets of life and well-being.
Mental health, physical health, sleep patterns, social relationships, and even our biological development can all be impacted by stress.
Treatments will consist of a combination of psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, and medication, including some scary meds; check any meds out a time or two before getting into it.
The funny thing is that Traditional Chinese Medicine suggests anxiety is the result of being separated from the soul’s desire.
The sub-conscience knows what you should be doing, knows what makes you tick, and understands your strengths and core beliefs.
When there is a departure from the urges of the soul, the result is anxiety. Hmm.
- Stress management: Learning to manage stress can help limit potential triggers. Organize any upcoming pressures and deadlines, compile lists to make daunting tasks more manageable, and commit to taking time off from study or work.
- Relaxation techniques: Simple activities can help soothe the mental and physical signs of anxiety. These include meditation, deep breathing exercises, long baths, resting in the dark, and yoga.
- Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Make a list of the negative thoughts that might be cycling as a result of anxiety, and write down another list next to it containing positive, believable thoughts to replace them. Creating a mental image of successfully facing and conquering a specific fear can also provide benefits if anxiety symptoms relate to a particular cause, such as a phobia. This takes practice while sharpening up visualization skills.
- Support network: Talk with trusted and supportive people, like family members or friends. Support group services may also be available in the local area and online.
- Exercise: Physical exertion can improve self-image and release chemicals in the brain that trigger positive feelings.
- Trancing practice: There is some excellent stuff on YouTube by Michael Sealy.
As many of you know, my favorite is daily yoga, prayer, and keeping control of the agenda.
Taking time off for rest and recuperation is essential.