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Understanding Anxiety

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

If anxiety were a person, it would surely be a villain.

Why?

Because it strikes out of nowhere, holds prisoners to ransom, it's actions have the worst intentions and yet, it is vital to the plot of our lives at some time or another as we turn from a cocoon of self doubt, into a butterfly of freedom.

In Australia, 1 in 5 men and 1 in 3 women will experience anxiety at some stage in their lives;

1 in 8 men and 1 in 6 women will experience depression; 6 out of 8 suicides are men. This rate is alarming for a number of reasons, and with the impact of covid-19, these rates are sure to rise. If you think you or someone close to you might be suffering silently, please use this source from beyond blue to check the symptoms.


The good news, is that anxiety and depression are talked more openly than ever, giving us reason to throw off the shame and reach for help in a host of new places whether it be talk therapy, alternative healing, yoga, meditation, herbs, reiki, teas, essential oils, massage, taking a luxurious bath, dancing, writing, walking, exercising, watching a sunset, grounding ourselves in nature, breathing techniques, Dynamic Osho meditation or perhaps traditional medicine.


Some of the symptoms associated with anxiety disorder or panic attacks are listed below, however, they will appear in different people in different ways:

  • Stomach pain including indigestion, gas and bloating, abdominal cramps and pain, and irritable bowel syndrome.

  • Difficulty breathing including a choking sensation, hyperventilation, asthma attacks and coughing fits.

  • Negative thoughts including anticipating danger and catastrophe around every corner, frequent feelings of inadequacy or impending failure, or believing that something bad will happen if certain things aren’t done a certain way.

  • Feelings of worry which can result in edginess and physical trembling or shaking.

  • Heart and chest pain

  • Low appetite or binge eating

  • Insomnia

  • Feeling detached or unreal


The five most common anxiety disorders are GAD, Social Anxiety, OCD, Panic Disorder and PTSD, with a brief description of each below:


Generalized Anxiety Disorder, GAD, is an anxiety disorder characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it. When this is prolonged (hypervigilance), it can often make you feel overwhelmed, exhausted, paranoid, or like you want to 'pull back' from society, and avoid social contact, immobilising yourself in order to cope; you may experience muscle tightness, a racing mind or a rapid heart rate; you may feel restless, tired but unable to sleep; you might have short, shallow breathing or hold your breath without realising.


Often this stems from a series of relationships that have shaped your future and left you untrusting. It could be that your childhood was uncaring and emotionless, it could be that your ex/current partner was abusive or cold hearted, it could be that the girls at school were mean or perhaps you were bullied at work or university. Social anxiety is an anxiety disorder characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Social phobia can be limited to only one type of situation - such as a fear of speaking in formal or informal situations, or eating or drinking in front of others - or, in its most severe form, may be so broad that a person experiences symptoms almost anytime they are around other people.


OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER (OCD) Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, OCD, is an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Repetitive behaviors such as hand washing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called "rituals," however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety.


PANIC DISORDER Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress.


POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults or experiences, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.



Unfortunately, in our current 'covid' environment, more people are experiencing anxiety than ever and a lot of those people don't know where to begin in order to move through it; which is why I am bringing this topic to your attention. They may express this with anger, resentment, rage, outbursts of crying, personality changes, binge eating, introverting or a number of other ways. Most people still find a sense of shame attached to admitting to having an mental-emotional imbalance and will feel incredibly vulnerable seeking help for it. While you shouldn't go around pointing fingers, you can call hotlines like beyond blue, black dog institute, the samaritans and RUOK? to ask for their help in figuring out the next steps.


While I am not a psychiatrist and can't diagnose or give professional advice, I am incredibly passionate about physical and mental wellbeing and strongly believe the two intertwine. I have dealt with both anxiety and depression in the past, and despite the fact that they were some of the darkest days of my life, I now also understand that we can learn to separate our thoughts, our actions and our physical being.


There is light at the end of the tunnel, and there is help to guide you in getting there.


If you would like to try a reiki session in order to ease your symptoms, please contact me directly at m.elouise@outlook.com or phone 0406 713 018 to schedule a time post-lockdown.


Love & light,

Monique Elouise

Follow me on Instagram for updates and wellness tips @anahata_reiki_and_wellness

Follow me on Facebook for links and tips on the wellness journey @anahatareikiandwellness



<<Here's the reason this blog post was prompted>>


"I'm writing this at 10:11pm after laying in bed for an hour going over the day that was in my head, and suddenly focusing on the smallest details that are turning into bubbles of drama. I've tossed and turned for the past hour, thinking about my day, what went well, what could have gone better, and then am alarmed at the smallest things that I may have overlooked or forgotten... Yep, that's anxiety, and right now it feels impossible for me to stop worrying over things that I know don't matter and have no control over.


This isn't the first time I've had anxiety, but it has appeared out of the blue. Usually, I'm very calm and being overcome with anxiety was a life of the past, a life I associated with my early career in fashion when I always had to be 'on'.


I lie awake in bed, and consider the reasons I feel stress:

Today was the first day back at my old job that closed over covid lockdown 1.0.

I spent a lot of time around people I usually wouldn't.

I felt suffocated wearing a face mask all day.

I watched tv late and checked my phone late at night.

I moved less than I wanted in the afternoon.

I ate too much sugar.

I drank too much caffeine.

I took in energy of a city that has changed overnight.

I had a late phone call from a client wishing for a reiki session, and felt my heart sink by not being able to offer it in person.

I miss working with my clients, I miss healing, I miss being authentically me, I miss healing and healing is clearly missing me too.


These are all things on my darting mind, all the things I need to journal about before I can sleep to let them escape. All things that in the larger scheme of life don't matter, but little things that I immediately join the dots with and create clarity in my mind with.


This is one of the tools that helps me through anxiety.


I sit in front of my screen to write this blog after writing them down and re-reading them. I look at them, turning them into nothing but words, and detracting my emotions. I sit back, looking puzzled at the screen and consider the deeper meanings behind the anxiety, causing it to rise; it's because I feel trapped and I know it.

I feel stuck in a world that doesn't feel like home.

I feel guilty for eating too much sugar

I feel suffocated by wearing a mask that covers my free speech and my smile.

I feel homesick for the country that will always be my home

I feel sad by not being able to treat my clients, even though people can still get their hair cut.


As soon as I make the realisations, I let out a deep sigh of relief. As if I have cracked the code, and can move on. I know it's not over yet, but I'm halfway there. Now I have to breath. I try inhaling and exhaling deeply several times. I bring breath into my abdomen, then chest; then exhale from my chest, then abdomen. I have one hand on my chest, one on my heart and mindfully allow them to rise and fall. I repeat this for several minutes and feel like I am back in control. I feel refreshed, relaxed and ready to sleep."


Anxiety happens to us all at one time or another, and more often than not, when we least expect it. Be kind to yourself, tomorrow is a fresh start.



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