According to Anxiety Canada, one in four Canadians will have at least one anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Knowing the high numbers of people with anxiety, I thought it would be helpful for our readers to see what one of our experts in anxiety has to say. I interviewed Jennifer Chow, M.C.P., who is a Registered Psychologist at Cornerstone Counselling.
Q: What causes anxiety?
A: Anxiety manifests itself in a number of ways as well as develops from a number of events. Anxiety can be caused or triggered by many life stressors a person faces, but it can also be caused by one stressor. It is really dependent on how the person has interpreted and metabolized a particular situation that may lead to a certain level of anxiety. I think we could all agree that anxiety is something that we all will face at some point in our life stories, but it’s more about whether or not the anxiety will be so much that it impacts our everyday functions and our relationships.
Q: How does anxiety manifest?
A: When we experience anxiety, adrenaline is pumped into our bloodstream which impacts our autonomic nervous system. As a result, different parts of our body prepare to either fight, flee, or freeze. Some of the symptoms associated with our automatic responses to stress may be heart palpitations, increased heart rate, running thoughts, acute vision, greater mobility, hyperventilation, and tingling sensations.
Q: Are there different types of anxiety people can experience?
A: To answer this question is a little challenging because I’m sure there are going to be many people who tell me that there are different types of anxieties and others who will tell me that there aren’t. From my perspective, I’m less concerned about whether there are different types of anxiety, and more concerned with what is subjective experience of anxiety that a person is having at this moment. For some people, anxiety could be very physical while for others, anxiety can manifest as something cognitive. I think it becomes less about the types of anxiety, and more about what is the person currently experiencing.
Q: What are some ways to manage anxiety in our daily life?
A: There are many different ways in which people can manage their anxiety, and everyone is going to have ways that are more meaningful or less meaningful. Some ways I might reduce anxious feelings include:
- Taking a minute or two to take some deep breaths;
- Pulling my awareness outside of myself and focusing on things outside of me – engaging as many sensations as possible (visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory)
- Listening to relaxing music
- Finding a friend to talk to
- Taking a warm shower
- Exercising and working out
- Baking or cooking
- Trying something new
My suggestions would also include limiting the use of alcohol, caffeine, or other substances. Often times, some of these substances may help in the short term, but then they have more long-term, maladaptive effects.
These general tips are not necessarily going to rid a person of anxiety, but they might be ways to help a person manage symptoms. If you are experiencing a great deal of anxiety, I invite and encourage you to check-in with your doctor, connect with a counsellor, and find the help that you need. If you want to learn more about anxiety and ways to manage it please visit: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/basics/anxiety
Blog post by Vanessa Amundson, Volunteer.
Mind Your Mind. “Statistics Canada releases mental health survey results”. https://mindyourmind.ca/blog/statistics-canada-releases-mental-health-survey-results.