What is anxiety?
Anxiety is what we feel when our body is responding to stress. People often experience a general state of worry or fear before confronting something challenging such as a test, examination, recital, or interview. These feelings are easily justified and considered normal. In most people anxiety will help them deal with the demanding situation they are in, but in some people anxiety can become overwhelming, interfering with sleep and daily activities and can be classified as an anxiety disorder.
What is an anxiety disorder?
Common anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, phobias and panic disorders. In generalized anxiety disorder patients suffer from non specific anxiety with no particular source. Phobias are characterized by anxiety attacks triggered by an identifiable and specific cause (e.g, fear of heights).
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Panic disorders on the other hand have a stronger physical manifestation, they are characterized by brief attacks of intense terror and apprehension which is often accompanied by profuse sweating, trembling, confusion, nausea, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, tachycardia and often spells of fainting.
How do I manage generalized anxiety?
The key to managing anxiety is to manage stress. Stress management should be an essential part of your daily routine. Everyday life places numerous demands on us as well as constant stimulation; all of which places a great deal of stress on our mind and body leading to great deal of anxiety.
What if I am having a Panic Attack?
During a panic attack our sympathetic nervous system goes in overdrive, leading to an outpour of stress hormones, most notably adrenaline which brings about the “Fight and Flight” response. This surge in hormones leads to the typical symptoms that one experiences, such as racing heart rate, palpitations, profuse sweating, shallow and fast breathing, dizziness, light headedness and tingling sensations.
The best thing you can do if you find yourself in the middle of a Panic Attack is to control your breathing by doing Pranayam. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, first by pushing out your abdomen, thus allowing your diaphragm to move down and your chest to expand. As you exhale through your nose, allow your diaphragm to relax, by gently pulling in your abdomen and emptying the base of your lungs, then allow the rest of your chest to deflate.
Pranayama relieves anxiety due to its physiological effect on the nervous system. Breathing deeply and slowly activates the hypothalamus, connected to the pituitary gland in the brain, to send out neurohormones that inhibit stress-producing hormones and trigger a relaxation response in the body which reverses the symptoms one experiences during a panic attack.
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>> What's Next: An introduction to pranayama