Life can be stressful. Even when things are going well you may have pressures on your time and your body. And when things go wrong, it will have an even bigger impact on your health. Stress can be very dangerous. It can contribute to a wide range of conditions and diseases. A certain amount of stress is normal and even healthy, but high levels can be lethal. And stress is often linked to anxiety, another growing problem in the modern world.
What is Anxiety?
First of all, you need to know that there’s a difference between anxiety and anxiety disorders. Some amount of worry and anxiety are normal. You probably experience them on a regular basis. But anxiety is different.
People who have anxiety disorders experience too much worry and fear. Everyday events can send them into a downward spiral of these negative emotions. If you have anxiety, this will negatively affect every aspect of your life, impact your choices, and may even restrict your daily activities. Fear can become debilitating, ongoing, uncontrollable, and so intense that you may fear dying from it.
Unfortunately, anxiety is becoming all too common in the modern world. In fact, the World Health Organisation estimates that up to 25 percent of people in the EU suffer from anxiety or depression. And more than 1 in 10 people in the UK will have a serious anxiety disorder throughout their lives. These are sobering statistics that show the importance of effective treatment strategies for anxiety.
What Anxiety Does to your Body
When you feel anxious, it triggers the release of cortisol from your adrenal glands. Cortisol is often known as the ‘stress hormone’ and it’s a powerful natural stimulant. Basically, this hormone gets you ready to respond to a threat. It increases your blood pressure, your alertness, and your heartrate, preparing you to fight or flee for your life.
Cortisol is important for overall health and functioning. But if you have anxiety, then your cortisol levels are probably too high on a regular basis. Every time you worry or have a panic attack, your adrenals release more cortisol in response to the assumed threat.
High ongoing levels of cortisol can be catastrophic for your health and can:
- Trigger other mental health issues like depression or mood swings.
- Drain away your energy.
- Increase inflammation, which can lead to cancer, heart disease, and other diseases.
- Impede your body’s natural healing processes.
- Suppress the immune response, so you’re more prone to infections and viruses as well as cancer, arthritis and auto-immune disorders.
- Cause problems with blood sugar regulation, leading to insulin resistance or diabetes.
- Lower your serotonin levels, putting you at greater risk of depression.
- Damage neurons in the brain and even shrink parts of the brain.
Basically, if your cortisol levels are high, it will impact every aspect of your health and wellbeing. That’s why it’s important that you take steps to correct this imbalance.
Finding the right strategies for reducing your stress and anxiety often means a process of experimentation and elimination. If you have anxiety, it’s often helpful to get professional medical assistance during this process, just to ensure that you’re not causing further harm to your body or your mind.
Some of the most helpful techniques for dealing with anxiety are:
- Regular exercise
- Cutting down on stimulants like coffee or nicotine.
- A healthy, balanced diet.
- Deep breathing.
- Positive self-talk
- Listen to music.
These techniques can all help. So, if you’re still struggling, a combination of these techniques may be the answer you’re looking for. These techniques might help to reverse the damage that stress can do to neurons and brain size, encouraging the growth of new neurons and new connections in the brain.
Anxiety or depression aren’t disorders that you should just ignore. They will not only lower your quality of life; they will also have a long-term impact on your health and wellbeing. If you struggle with finding safe, effective, and gentle remedies for these issues, then it might be time to try working on reducing your anxiety using a gentle, natural approach.