What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a category of medical diagnoses based on certain sets of symptoms.
The most common of these diagnoses is Adjustment Disorder with Anxious Mood.
You may have this type of anxiety if you have experienced a major life change in the past 6 months. Since we are creatures of habit by nature, positive changes can be just as stressful as negative ones. These positive changes can include:
- a job promotion
- new baby
- a move
- more money, etc.
In the recovery literature, it is well documented that people recovering from alcohol or drug dependence are as likely to experience a relapse from positive life changes as negative ones. People who win the lottery have difficulty adjusting to their new found wealth. And they usually return to their prior financial status within 5 years of winning.
Negative changes pack a double punch. The change creates stress and well as the feelings regarding the change. For example, physical illness personally causes many changes regarding work performance, stamina, parenting, etc. And there is a natural grieving, fear or other emotions associated with these changes.
Negative changes can include:
- death of a loved one
- physical illness
- loss due to illness such as loss of stamina, inability to conceive, necessary lifestyle changes,
- loss of a job
- financial stress
- parenting difficulties
- children with special needs
- illness of a child
- responsible for the care of an elderly relative
- unplanned pregnancy
- unwanted move
These lists are examples and not inclusive of all possible events that cause stress in our lives.
Remember we all experience change and stress differently. What is stressful to one person may not be stressful for another. You define what is stressful for you. Comparing your inside feelings with someone else’ outside appearance is a recipe for increased stress. Telling yourself you should be handling the stress better also increases this stress and creates a feeling of “less than”. I call this kicking myself when I’m down vs. comforting myself around intense feelings.
If you are feeling anxious and have experienced a major change in the last 6 months, you could be having an adjustment reaction. The good news is that when seeking help early, this type of anxiety is highly treatable. Sometimes it is very comforting just to have a safe place to discuss your feelings without fear of being judged or worrying about the other person. Learning a few simple mind body practices is also highly effective in lowering anxiety enough to break the anxiety cycle. EFT, The Emotional Freedom Technique, has been shown to lower cortisol, a stress hormone, and brain waves associated with fear. It is simple and easy to learn with no known side effects.
Read my next blog article where I included a quick quiz to identify your level of stress — and more importantly, how it may be impacting your health.