Everyone feels anxious some of the time. Anxiety is a signal that there is an aspect of our life that may need attention. It is part of the normal signaling role our minds play. We are wired to feel and respond to fear, anxiety and stress. Our reactions to these aspects of life may be more or less adaptive. Sometimes our minds get confused in interpreting these aspects as our brains evolved in times when the stressors were often quite different from what we experience today. For example: our minds and bodies have developed a “fight or flight” response to perceived danger. This can be very valuable when presented with a real physical danger, but can be debilitating if it occurs when one has to give a presentation. Often the “attacks” one has to face these days are more due to psychological pressures than to physical dangers to one’s life or health. These psychological “attacks” may be directed to self-esteem, relationships, life goals, or internally or external expectations of success. Understanding the underlying issues is often the first step in overcoming anxiety.
Stress is a complex physical and emotional reaction to the external world and internal emotional. Stress occurs normally as individuals go through developmental transitions and life events. Low levels of stress may be barely noticeable, while moderate levels of stress may indicate the need for some Low sort of change. High levels of stress can contribute to a variety of physical and emotional illnesses. Stress can be acute or chronic. Acute stress is the response to an incident that disrupts our lives. The effects can last from minutes to weeks. Chronic stress is often the response to unresolved problems that have remained after numerous or continuous distinct life events.
Anxiety is often caused by unrealistic expectations or self-persecutory responses that are invoked by stressful situations. For example, new social situations can be stressful. The feeling that one has to live up to certain expectations or is likely to be rejected, will lead to anxiety. In exam situations, putting too much emphasis on the importance of the exam or doubting one’s ability will also cause anxiety. Anxiety often sets up a vicious cycle, where the anxiety itself will interfere with performance leading to an increasing sense of failure. Stopping this cycle is crucial in alleviating anxiety. The thoughts or feelings that contribute to anxiety may not always be obvious. A Mental Health professional should be able to help you identify important factors.