Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues in our modern living. When I started practicing psychological counselling 20 years ago, the majority of my clients had depression issues. In the last 5 to 10 years I have seen a significant increase in patients with Generalized and Social Anxiety.
Personally, I believe that our society’s rapid changes along with the high tech developments over the last few decades have played a major role in the epidemics of anxiety. There is no doubt the Information high technology and computerisation have brought us much convenience in life. In a way, it has also broken down the cultural barriers between countries and people, giving us a sense of “oneness” as a global village. However, the flip side to such rapid changes is that we are forever inundated with huge amount of information, rapid changes in trends within a much shorter time frame force us to readjust. These changes often spin us off our sense of balance and control. The result is – anxiety.
As our daily living are strongly linked and influenced by I.T. and other high techs, our modern human behaviours and expectation seem to mimic the computer, making our living quite “robotic”. With the invention of ‘Photoshop’ and many other intelligent programs, we now can easily touch up our images to make them “perfect” and “impeccable” within split seconds. However, in reality, to achieve such a “flawless” body shape and image is literally impossible, or that it takes a long time. The over-emphasis on speed, image, perfection, goal-driven orientations in life often leave us feeling “inadequate”, “guilty” and “highly strung” with “high control” which results in us feeling “embarrassed” and “out of control”.
In one documentary, it is reported that in Seoul, South Korea, there are around 500 cosmetic surgery shops alone! With social media, we invite family and strangers the same into each other’s privacy, only to be obsessed and become even more paranoid about others’ opinions. With many public-media’s manipulated “overnight success stories”, we create a whole generation believing that “taking short cuts” and “over-ambition” are the way to go in life which can result in confusion, disillusion and panic leading us to taking even more control, being even more highly strung and anxious as a vicious cycle.
In addition to the above factors, it is not uncommon that after prolonged or a series events of unresolved trauma of loss, grief, sickness or abuse that the survivors feel a complete loss of faith in life that they develop severe anxiety and panic attacks.
Common symptoms of Generalized anxiety (anxiety without specific reasons) include:
– Excessive worrying
– Negative dwelling
– Exaggerated or over-generalized fears with anticipation of worse-feared scenarios
– Fear or worry-induced symptoms such as headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, dry throat, dry mouth, chest pain, pounding heart, stomach discomfort or pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, shaking, physical numbness, tingling, cold chills , hot flushes, fears of dying, fears of going crazy etc.
While most of us enjoy the convenience of self-diagnosis through Google; to avoid inducing further unnecessary anxiety, it is strongly recommended that a consultation with a qualified mental health professional is a must for any proper diagnosis and needed treatments.
The following are a few simple tips for early signs of mild anxiety:
- Cultivate self-acceptance to replace the “fault-picking” “lack-focus” and “criticism of self and others”.
- Realistic expectations to counter –balance the perfectionistic traits.
- Make conscious efforts to keep away from toxic environments whether that be mentally, emotionally and physically.
- Use “telescopic view” to replace “microscopic view” in life – e.g. Ask yourself, “If I were to to review this event or situation on my death bed, would it carry the same significance? Or do I have other better priorities to attend to for wellbeing and happiness?”
- Prioritise important things in life by keeping it simple to match the core values meaningful to you
Whilst the above simple tips may help to ease anxiety symptoms to some degree, the underlying causes of anxiety vary from case to case, therefore it is important to seek further professional psychological guidance and support to address unresolved trauma, loss, grief, bullies, and physical, emotional or sexual abuse as applicable.
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