Don’t let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries. Astrid Alauda
Dear Friends, do you suffer from anxiety?
Did you know that 3.1% (6.8 million people) of Americans suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
According to the DSMlV you have Generalized Anxiety (GAD) if:
A. At least 6 months of “excessive anxiety and worry” about a variety of events and situations. Generally, “excessive” can be interpreted as more than would be expected for a particular situation or event. Most people become anxious over certain things, but the intensity of the anxiety typically corresponds to the situation.
B. There is significant difficulty in controlling the anxiety and worry. If someone has a very difficult struggle to regain control, relax, or cope with the anxiety and worry, then this requirement is met.
C. The presence for most days over the previous six months of 3 or more (only 1 for children) of the following symptoms:
1. Feeling wound-up, tense, or restless
2. Easily becoming fatigued or worn-out
3. Concentration problems
5. Significant tension in muscles
6. Difficulty with sleep
D. The symptoms are not part of another mental disorder.
E. The symptoms cause “clinically significant distress” or problems functioning in daily life. “Clinically significant” is the part that relies on the perspective of the treatment provider. Some people can have many of the aforementioned symptoms and cope with them well enough to maintain a high level of functioning.
F. The condition is not due to a substance or medical issue
Does any of that sound familiar to you?
Anxiety is a physical condition. We experience it in association with the emotion fear.
When we find ourselves in situations we don’t believe we can handle, our brain interprets that as a danger to our survival and immediately releases hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol to prepare us to fight, flight, or freeze.
Those hormones cause chemical changes in our body that translate into the symptoms of anxiety. Think for a moment what it feels like when adrenalin is rushing through your veins.
In our busy lives, the demands on our attention and time are extreme. It is natural to feel like what we are asked to do is more than we can handle. Feeling like we “can’t handle it” is the most common cause of GAD.
“It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?” Henry David Thoreau
We each have a different capacity for how much we can handle.
Do you ever feel like your plate is too full? There are times in our lives such as when we are parenting small children, or going to school while working that can make us feel like we can’t do it all.
Other times we have chosen to do too many things or accepted assignments we really don’t have time to do, or may not even know how to do.
It really gets complicated when ALL of the above apply.
Often our perception of what we have to do is the culprit.
If we believe:
... we must be perfect and always have the approval of others
… demand that others always do “the right thing”
…believe life must be easy or something is wrong
… then we will have anxiety because those along with many other beliefs are not based in truth. We can’t “handle” a fantasy.
Fact #1 Nobody is perfect. It is impossible to have everyone’s approval.
Fact #2 The only person we can control is ourselves.
Fact #3 The nature of life is change.
What Can You Do if You Have Anxiety?
- Understand it is up to you to find relief. The world will not change.
- Simplify… Take an honest look at how you are spending your time and make changes.
- Ask for, and accept help. Don’t make the mistake of thinking YOU have to do it all.
- Tell yourself you can handle it… try it. It’s amazing how powerful those words are coming from your own lips.
- Take care of yourself by getting sleep, exercise, and proper nutrition…you can’t expect your body to function at it’s highest level if you are not taking care of it.
- Learn how to breathe for stress relief… inhale count to 5…exhale count to 7
- Meditate… access your higher power.
- Don’t catastrophize… life is hard enough. Don’t embellish it. Making it sound bigger makes it feel bigger.
If you have struggled with anxiety, you are in good company. Here is a list of well known people who have or had anxiety.
- Isaac Asimov (author)
- Kim Basinger (actress)
- Roseanne Barr (comedian)
- David Bowie (singer)
- Charlotte Bronte (author)
- Barbara Bush (former First Lady – U.S.)
- John Candy (comedian)
- Naomi Campbell (model)
- Ray Charles (musician)
- Eric Clapton (musician)
- Dick Clark (television personality)
- Cher (singer, actress)
- Michael Crichton (writer)
- Sheryl Crow (musician)
- Johnny Depp (actor)
- Edie Falco (actress)
- Sally Field (actress)
- Sigmund Freud (psychiatrist)
- Aretha Franklin (singer)
- James Garner (actor)
- Anthony Hopkins (actor)
- Olivia Hussey (actress)
- Naomi Judd (singer)
- Nicole Kidman (actress)
- Courtney Love (singer – actress)
- John Madden (announcer)
- Howie Mandel (comic)
- Robert McFarlane (former National Security Advisor – U.S.)
- John Cougar Mellancamp (musician, actor)
- John Stuart Mill (philosopher)
- Alanis Morisette (singer)
- Sir Isaac Newton (scientist)
- Sir Laurence Olivier (actor)
- Donny Osmond (actor)
- Marie Osmand (entertainer)
- Bonnie Raitt (musician)
- Burt Reynolds (actor)
- Joan Rivers (actress)
- Winona Ryder (actress)
- Charles Schultz (cartoonist)
- Willard Scott (weatherman)
- Sam Shepard (playwright)
- Sissy Spacek (actress)
- Carly Simon (singer)
- John Steinbeck (author)
- Howard Stern (king of media)
- Barbra Streisand (singer)
- Dave Stewart of the (singer – Eurythmics)
- Anne Tyler (author)
- Ann Wilson (singer)
- Oprah Winfrey (host)
- W.B. Yeats (poet)
I would love to hear how anxiety has impacted you in your life. Your comments help me, help you. I along with fellow readers would welcome any tips you have discovered along the way that have helped in managing your anxiety.
Until next, time may you find your cup half full 🙂