Anxiety is a word that often gets thrown around and usually comes with a negative connotation.
In reality, anxiety is a common response to a situation where we feel under pressure and these feelings usually pass once the stressful situation has passed or ‘stressor’ is removed. What’s more, anxiety is actually a normal and useful experience that prepares us for upcoming challenges and motivates us to complete goal-direct behaviours.
However, when worry is excessive and out of proportion to the situations that trigger it, feelings of anxiety may not pass and daily living can be disrupted. This could be an indication of an anxiety condition.
Anxiety in Australia
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia, affecting approximately one in four individuals in their lifetime.
Although anxiety is different for everyone, there are common emotional, cognitive, behavioural and physiological features that characterise an anxiety condition. These can include:
- Tension, depression, irritability
- Constant worry, poor attention span, catastrophising, obsessive thinking
- Rapid pulse, shallow breathing, headaches, muscular tension, panic attacks, tightening of the chest
- Avoiding certain situations, impaired task performance, difficulty sleeping, restlessness
Tips to manage anxiety
- Breathe Deeply. When you’re anxious, your breathing becomes faster and shallower. Try deliberately slowing down your breathing. Count to three as you breathe in slowly, then count to three as you breathe out slowly.
- Get to know your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else? Keep a diary of when your anxiety is at its best and worst. Find patterns and plan your week or day to proactively manage your anxiety.
- Take a time-out. Listen to music, go for a walk, enjoy sunshine, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques.
- Nourish your body. Eat well-balanced, wholesome meals to fuel your body throughout the day.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine. These stimulants can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
- Get your Z’s. When stressed or anxious, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
- Perspective, perspective, perspective. Know that you cannot control everything, try focusing on what you CAN do.
- Laugh. Laughter helps us be in the present moment, setting our fears or future stresses momentarily aside.
- Talk with someone you trust. A friend, your GP, a counsellor or your Employee Assistance Program can provide support. Although Anxiety is common, only 35% will seek professional help.
Notice anxiety in a colleague?
If a colleague or someone in your team or life is struggling and you think they need support, it’s important to take action. Start by having a conversation. Remember, it’s not your job to offer a diagnosis or counselling, so ask the person if they require assistance. From there, you can help them access further support.
If you need assistance on how to better support the mental health of your colleagues at work click here, or contact your EAP provider.