Kym Marsden’s monthly mental health column aims to help anyone suffering from any mental health concerns. If this article raises any issues for you please contact the resources at the bottom of this article.
Although we have visited anxiety previously, I thought we’d re-explore as anxiety levels appear to have increased steadily throughout COVID-19.
This is largely due to the impacts it has had across our local and global communities, leading to feelings of isolation and uncertainty and leaving many of us feeling overwhelmed.
Unfortunately, whether the source is clear to us or not, anxiety often feels as if it refuses to go away. Anxiety presents differently for all of us due to everyone being unique, but common themes that provoke anxiety may include:
- Feeling loss of control over day-to-day life or our futures
- Fear of being embarrassed in social situations
- Ongoing financial or job stress
- Exposure to a traumatic event, unresolved trauma etc.
Anxiety can impact our mental and physical wellbeing and our ability to function. It can trigger the release of adrenaline which is the hormone that triggers our ‘fight or flight’ response. This causes physical changes to our bodies when we feel under threat, resulting in us either standing our ground or removing ourselves from the perceived threat.
Mentally, it can be exhausting as we are scanning for a perceived threat which is unlikely there and that perceived threat will likely not result in any form of harm or physical danger.
Although there is no incoming danger, physically we may experience one or multiple of the below symptoms which increases our irrational thinking and fear:
- Heart palpitations (racing heart)
- Feeling nauseous and/or pains in the stomach
- Tensing of muscles throughout the body
- Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
- Feeling faint or dizzy
- Fidgety, body shakes and trembles.
So, how do we manage or decrease our anxiety upon onset? Below are some suggestions that may assist in reducing your anxiety:
- Exercise – Endorphins are released when you engage in physical activity and are known for improving your mood. Why not put some headphones in, tune into some music and go for a short walk to alleviate your anxiety symptoms?
- Stay hydrated – When you become dehydrated you start to feel tired and headachey which can contribute to feeling anxious
- Relaxation – Participating in relaxation technique such as yoga, meditation, breathing exercises and/or distraction techniques can help to placate and ground you. It’s about finding the technique that suits your lifestyle.
- Sleep – Make sure you are getting enough sleep, as sleep deprivation will increase your irritability and impact on your anxiety
- Seek help – You don’t have to go through this alone, even though at times you likely feel so overwhelmed with anxiety that it’s easier to isolate, this will be detrimental. Sharing how you feel with those you trust can help you to feel heard, increase your confidence and ability to manage your symptoms. If your symptoms persist, it’s important you seek professional help through your GP who can assess if you require medication or refer you to a mental health professional to commence counselling to develop coping strategies to manage your anxiety.
Lastly, remember that although anxiety will occur throughout your life, it shouldn’t be excessive and or prevent you from engaging in day-to-day life. If this is occurring, please seek help to learn strategies to manage your symptoms to ensure it doesn’t become debilitating.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental ill-health, call or visit the online resources below:
- Spartan First Suicide Prevention Crisis Line – 1800 370 747
- Lifeline – 13 11 14, lifeline.org.au
- Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636, beyondblue.org.au/forums
- MensLine – 1300 789 978
- Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
- Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
- Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet – healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au
By Kym Marsden
Kym Marsden is a Kamilaroi woman and Accredited Mental Health Social Worker with over 19 years’ experience in Mental Health and Community Services. Her qualifications include BA Health Ageing and Community Services, Masters Social Work, Dip Counselling, Dip Community Services (AOD and Mental Health), and Cert IV Training and Assessment.