Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. In fact, anxiety is normal. It alerts us to threats, protects us from danger, and helps us reach important goals.
However, it is also one of the most common mental health concerns for children, adolescents, and adults. One in four people will experience significant anxiety over their lifespan. Recognizing anxiety – how it looks, how it works, and what we can do about it – will help us recognize if it becomes a problem.
Everyone gets stressed and feels anxiety now and then.
Stress and anxiety can be similar, but they are two different things. Stress means having too much to cope with (feeling overwhelmed) or being prevented from doing something you need to do (feeling frustrated). Typically, we can identify the causes or events that contributed to stress.
Anxiety is usually more focused on the future and what might happen. When we are anxious, our thoughts tend to focus on all the bad things that might occur. Anxiety triggers something called the “fight-flight-freeze” response. This type of response affects our thoughts, body, and behaviours. When faced with a potential threat, your thoughts focus on the danger, your body revs up to help protect you, and you take action (fight-flight-freeze).
What can I do to help deal with anxiety?
Recognizing that you are anxious is the first step in doing something about it. Start taking note of when you are avoiding something or lashing out because deep down, you are afraid. Take care of yourself by eating well, exercising and getting enough rest, relaxation, and sleep. Make time for friends and family.
If you feel worried or nervous about something, talking about it with someone who will listen and care, can help you cope better and feel more understood. It will remind you that everyone has these feelings sometimes, that you are not alone. Take time to appreciate the little things in life. Allow yourself to dream, wish, and believe that good things can happen, and the world is a good place.
When does anxiety become a problem?
When behaviours and responses are stronger or more frequent than expected or last longer than expected, that’s anxiety. It can stop you from having fun or doing important things and make you feel out of control.
Anxiety that results in always being on alert is often referred to as an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions that involve excessive amounts of anxiety, fear, nervousness, worry, or dread. There are many different types of anxiety disorders each with various symptoms, however, they all have one thing in common: anxiety occurs too often, is too strong, is out of proportion to the present situation, and affects a person’s daily life and happiness.
Services related to this information:
- Doorways: rapid ‘one session at a time’ counselling services.
- Bridge the gapp
Newfoundland and Labrador’s ‘go-to’ website for mental health information. Bridge the gapp offers self-help resources, links to local services, and invites people to share their personal stories. Bridge the gapp is free of cost and available to every resident in the province. The site is divided into adult and youth sections, however many services are appropriate for both.
- Strongest Families Children and Youth Programs
Free skill-based educational programs for children, youth, adults, and families seeking help to improve mental health and well-being.
- Mental health and addictions services
- Contact your Public Health Nurse
- Contact your physician/nurse practitioner
- 811 HealthLine (Newfoundland & Labrador) – Call 811 or 1-888-709-2929 / TTY 1-888-709-3555
- 811 is free and confidential. 811 is available 24/7 and can provide support with mental health and addictions issues and more.
- Services formerly offered by the Provincial Mental Health Crisis Line are now offered by 811. Call 811 to speak with a registered nurse who is also a trained crisis intervener.