Turn the tables on anxiety

In our personal and professional lives, most of us experience anxiety, at least sometimes. When we put ourselves at risk of injury or humiliation, our body responds accordingly. But when occasional anxiety turns into a state of mind, health challenges and life disruptions tend to follow. In this post, we share some “layman’s tips” for managing anxiety.

Anxiety is on the rise. Over three million Canadians and 20 million Americans live with a mood disorder.


1. Take mood disorders seriously

Anxiety is an easy problem to blow off and underestimate, especially for people who work in deadline-driven industries, like marketing or tech. But when fear and loathing paralyze the tool you rely on to solve complex cognitive tasks (i.e. your brain!), chaos invariably follows. Old school attitudes—“it’s all in your head, just get over it!”—only contribute to the chaos.

45 percent of people diagnosed with a mood disorder face severe impairment, such as the inability to work or even leave home.

2. Disorders can creep up on you

Even if you don’t have anxiety today, you should take it seriously. We all experience change, stress, and loss at some point in life, even amidst the moments of joy and exhilaration.

Life events, like divorces, accidents, and sickness can trigger a crisis like chronic stress. Whether built up over time or in a traumatic event, an average person isn’t immune to developing a disorder.

Chronic stress directly contributes to severe and impairing psychiatric conditions, including depression and bipolar disorder. (source)

3. Treatment for anxiety works

Anxiety sufferers who have the financial means should seek treatment from a psychiatrist or psychologist. Talk therapy can work wonders. Psychiatrists can also prescribe medication, such as antidepressants, as another tool to help you cope and manage anxious feelings. Mental health professionals offer different types of therapies, like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which proves effective in coping with chronic stress and worry.

You have all kinds of effective treatment options available to help better manage anxiety and offset mood disorders. Take advantage of them!

4. Be your own mental health advocate

Unfortunately, mental illness sufferers face stigmas from society and even members of their family. Etatics’ beautiful infographic on the mental health stigma tells the story of a pervasive perception problem. So, do not expect the people in your life—your partner, parents, friends, colleagues—to understand your journey, let alone advise you objectively or competently.

Instead, focus on advocating for your mental wellness and feeling better.

Your mom or dad may never get it. Over 70% of adults 55 and older with mood and anxiety disorders do not use any mental health services.

5. Nurture or nature

Family members can model anxious behaviour for children, perpetuating and projecting fear unconsciously. Anxiety may also be hereditary for some, but that doesn’t negate the benefits of professional treatments. Whether caused through nurture or nature, you owe it to the people you love to manage your anxiety through treatment and self-care.

Anxiety is thought to be about 30 percent inherited… That’s less than some other mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, which have less of an environmental component.

6. Adopt self-care practices

While no substitute for professional treatment, you can adopt self-care practices to help you reduce the negative effects of anxiety. Meditative practices, such as Wim Hof breathing, mindfulness meditation, and yoga, can help you manage stress and reduce anxiety in the immediate, drug free. Simply committing yourself to daily walks can lead to meaningful improvement in your mood.

Harvard reports that exercising regularly benefits the brain and eases anxiety demonstrably. (source)

7. Keep talking

Like many other of life’s complexities, anxiety worsens if left unchecked. But remember, mood disorders are treatable. Talk to your family doctor about your mental health. Advocate for your mental health and wellness. Take action to feel better. And, above all, know that you are not alone. Be kind to yourself.

Anxiety and mood disorders are complex health conditions that require professional treatment.

Learn more about anxiety from professional resources:

1. Anxiety Disorders | CAMH
2. Anxiety Disorders and Depression Research & Treatment | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA
3. Anxiety disorders | Office on Women’s Health (womenshealth.gov)

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