Anxiety is not always a bad thing. In appropriate situations, anxiety is simply a natural response to life’s events and can help inform correct decisions. Whether because of an impending job interview, difficult conversation, first date or the like, anxiety is a natural response to stressful events.
However, when that anxiety lingers after the situation resolves, it can quickly do more harm than good. When the amount of anxiety we experience doesn’t equate to the gravity of the situation, or when anxiety is experienced for no reason at all, it might be time to talk with a medical professional about what you’re experiencing.
Natural stress or anxiety?
Sometimes, it can be difficult to determine whether the anxiety you’re experiencing is worthy of attention, or whether you’re simply encountering a natural response to life’s events. That’s why we’ve outlined a few simple checks you can perform on yourself, to help determine whether you need help coping with your anxiety.
1. Check your body’s physical response to your anxiety
The first step toward determining the extent of the anxiety is to take a moment to gauge how you’ve been affected physically. Over time, anxiety can take a toll on the body, but you can begin to feel the physical effects after just one anxiety attack. Oftentimes, physical symptoms of anxiety will present in the form of:
Upset stomach or nausea
Accelerated heart rate
Hyperventilation (rapid, uncontrolled breathing)
Feeling out of breath for no reason
If you’re experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, you very well might be encountering the body’s physical response to anxiety. However, it’s not simply the symptoms of anxiety that warrant a visit with a licensed health professional; rather, you also want to determine the length and the severity of the symptoms themselves. Have these symptoms only surfaced sporadically, perhaps during a particularly difficult moment or day? Or have you experienced more sustained anxiety symptoms over a longer period of time?
You’ll want to consider both the symptoms you’re feeling and the severity and duration of those symptoms when considering whether to consult a health professional regarding your anxiety.
2. Try focusing on anything else
We’re not suggesting you try to bury your emotions—that’s never a healthy coping mechanism. Instead, when trying to talk yourself down from stress, make a conscious effort to focus your mind on anything else in your life. Even better, perform some sort of physical activity to help expedite that process. This is a natural way to help anxiety and ease your mind.
If you can successfully place your mind on something else, especially consistently, it likely means that your anxiety is caused by life events.
However, if you find that your mind consistently returns to the same anxiety, especially if you find yourself overthinking the situation or constantly worrying about the rest of your day, it’s likely a sign that your anxiety will be better handled by a certified medical professional.
3. Determine how your symptoms have progressed over time
If you’ve found that your symptoms have not improved with time, or especially if they have worsened, it might be time to consult a therapist.
Take a moment to ascertain how your symptoms have evolved over time. Did you notice symptoms after a specific life event, or did they seem to materialize out of nowhere? Have they worsened? Improved? Did you notice new symptoms surface over time, especially after your anxiety began to appear more frequently?
The answers to these questions can help you better understand the disorder, as well as provide crucial information to a counselor in determining the best treatment plan for your needs specifically.
4. Gauge how many aspects of your life are causing you anxiety
If you can, take a few moments and try to identify the events or triggers in your life responsible for causing anxiety. Do you experience anxiety attacks surrounding work, a relationship or school? Does it start around certain people, in certain places?
If your anxiety is caused by certain environments, with certain people or in regard to parts of your life (like work), it might be time to make some changes, like cutting out toxic people or even finding a new workplace. If, however, you continue to experience anxiety attacks even after making changes, it could be incredibly beneficial to reach out for additional guidance on handling anxiety.
Don’t be afraid to seek help
There are definitely instances where anxiety is strictly caused by passing life events. However, when you find that anxiety is compromising your productivity or self-confidence, consider reaching out for help. At Pyramid Online Counseling, we’ve made a habit of helping patients with their behavioral and mental health issues. Whether you’re experiencing anxiety, depression or co-occurring disorders, Pyramid Online Counseling is ready to offer proven treatment modalities from licensed therapists.