You’re Supposed to Feel Anxious - But There Are Ways to Cope
Feeling anxious is uncomfortable but normal
Your heart is pounding so fast it feels like it’s coming out of your chest. You’re short of breath. You have sweaty palms and feel dizzy.
We’ve all felt like this – anxious. While anxiety feels uncomfortable and frustrating, it is also a natural response to stress.
You are supposed to have anxiety. That’s right – anxiety tells you that something is important (like delivering a big presentation) or that there’s a danger that you must avoid (feeling nervous when you see another person approaching you on a dark street).
For these fleeting moments of anxiety, there are many coping strategies, such as taking deep breaths, to immediately reduce anxious feelings and be calm again. You can practice these techniques ahead of time so you can cope better the next time you feel anxious.
How Anxiety Can Feel
Sometimes anxiety is more intense and can seriously impact our daily lives. Here is a link with some great resources.
Anxiety can include feelings like:
- intense fears about specific things, places, or situations, such as heights, spiders, the dark, and needles
- obsessions, compulsions, or both. Obsessions are unwanted thoughts, images, or impulses that cause anxiety. Being afraid of germs, thinking you left the stove on, and a need for symmetry are examples of obsessions. Compulsions are deliberate behaviours that you do to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsessions. For example, checking over and over that the door is locked, re-reading emails before sending them, having set rituals, and repeating phrases are compulsions
- being nervous or uncomfortable in social situations. Anything involving other people is a social situation, such as eating in front of other people, meeting new people, talking on the phone, and ordering food at a restaurant
- worry excessively and uncontrollably about daily life events
- unexpected and repeated panic attacks
- excessive fear or anxiety when separated from people you are attached to, such as your partner and children
Coping with anxiety
If you are having problems with anxiety, please know that help is available. Anxiety issues are manageable and treatable. You are not alone – about 1 in 10 Canadians have severe anxiety, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, this number is only increasing.
Some people may try to ignore anxiety, but avoiding things and situations that cause anxiety is not a healthy coping strategy. Avoidance could only make it worse and limit your life. Severe anxiety won’t go away on its own.
If you are looking for information and support, we offer free resources for managing and breaking the cycle of anxiety. You can adopt healthy coping mechanisms at a pace that is comfortable for you. A diagnosis is not needed to participate.
- Overcoming Anxiety, a 2.5-hour online class, gives you an overview of causes, symptoms, and healthy coping strategies. You’ll leave with practical tips and tools for managing anxiety
- Weekly therapeutic support group ‘ABCs of Anxiety’ gives you an opportunity to talk about your feelings and experiences in a healing and supportive group setting. You will participate in therapeutic activities and create a plan for moving out of anxiety. The group is facilitated by a mental health therapist.
- Counselling with a mental health therapist, who can help you understand your situation better and figure out ways to move successfully through it.