It’s something most of us feel at some point in our lives.
And crucially, anxiety is a completely natural response when we feel under threat, and our bodies are flooded with a sudden surge of adrenaline.
It boosts our heart rates and sends oxygen pumping through our veins.
And while anxiety can be triggered in direct response to a specific moment or event, the response can also be set off when the ordinary stresses of life build up over time and spill over.
How does anxiety feel?
There are a whole range of ways people feel when they’re anxious – which can involve both physical and psychological symptoms. You might experience some of these, or others not listed here.
- Light-headedness or dizziness
- Tingling in hands and feet
- Difficulty breathing
- Needing to use the toilet more or less than usual
- Feeling sick
- Tension headaches
- Problems sleeping
- Feeling that you’re detached from where you are, and the people around you
Fear that you could lose control
Urge to run away or escape the situation you’re in
Thinking a situation over repeatedly, and seeking lots of reassurance from others
Worrying a lot about things that could happen in the future
When could anxiety be considered a mental health problem?
If your feelings of anxiety start to impact on living your life fully, if your fears are out of proportion, distressing or hard to control, it could become a mental health problem. But you can also struggle with anxiety without a specific diagnosis.
How can we deal with it?
Talk – whether that’s to a trusted friend or a health professional, sharing your feelings can ease your burden
Get physical – exercise, get fresh air, enjoy a balanced diet and focus on good, quality sleep
Be in the moment – breathing exercises and mindfulness can be useful
Find support – speak to your GP, and find help and advice with one of the many organisations out there offering specialised help. Check out Anxiety UK, Mind and Aware NI for advice and support.
Prof Siobhan O’Neill, Interim Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland said: “This is a very, very common problem. Remember anxiety is really our primal, animal brain telling us how to respond to something, so if you’re feeling anxious one of the best options is to go for a run or a walk – it’s designed to get you moving.
“Anxiety also responds to substances. Things like caffeine can have an impact, increasing your heart rate, and if you’re hungover you can feel the need to look for something to attach that sense of anxiety to. You need to find your body a way to use up those chemicals so your body can feel calm again.”
Power of Pause
The ‘Power of Pause‘ focuses on the importance of doing just that – pausing – consciously slowing down, taking stock – and giving yourself a break.
By telling the real stories of people who have been affected by suicide, anxiety and mental health issues, the campaign builds a genuine and useful resource while facilitating open conversations around mental health issues.
This article is part of Power of Pause – a campaign produced in partnership with Electric Ireland on the incredibly important topic of mental health and wellbeing. For more information, click here.