Anxiety can creep up on you at any moment in your life. In fact, being an anxious person is harder to live with than some people think. When you’re an anxious person, you constantly fear that things will not go your way. This leads you to waste your energy by being stuck in a constant loop of negative thoughts. Two psychiatrists, Dr. Borwin Bandelow & Dr. Sophie Michaelis, confirmed how anxiety disorders “are the most prevalent mental disorders… According to a large population-based surveys, up to 33.7% of the population are affected by an anxiety disorder during their lifetime.” The World Health Organisation agreed with this by also finding that “each year, 25% of the population suffer from depression or anxiety.” These statistics cannot be ignored. They show how anxiety disorders, which include panic disorders, generalised anxiety disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorders, and separation anxiety disorders need to be taken more seriously by individuals.
It’s only when you realise that these anxious thoughts are unfounded do you begin to control them. The truth is that your anxiety is actually lying to you. It creates worst case scenarios in your head that are ultimately fake. For example, suppose that you text your friends to meet up tonight. Fifteen minutes pass without a reply and you start imagining that they don’t want to hang out with you anymore. You may even go so far as to think that they don’t even like you. They finally reply and let you know that they are actually want to meeting tonight. It’s only then that you realise that they probably didn’t reply because they’re busy, and not cause they didn’t want to hang out with you. Everyone has their life to live, and no one can be just glued to their phone, ready to reply at any moment.
Having said that, anxiety isn’t all about just these made up scenarios in our heads. It’s about the constant stress and worry that we feel related to everything in our lives. For instance, you just finished your exams and no longer need to study. Rather than feeling safe to relax and watch a movie, we feel anxious because there must be something else to do regarding schoolwork. This constant stress leaves you feeling depleted. This is why I feel that we need to tackle anxiety and keep it to a minimum.
As I write this, I want to point out that some minor anxiety is actually healthy. For example, in the current global pandemic, we know that we need to be careful to sanitise our hands, wear our masks, and follow all the necessary health protocols. Thus, this small anxious fear actually helps us to be careful and stay safe. However, we can’t let it take over our lives and disturb our inner peace.
When you’re feeling anxious, I want to remind you to take a deep breath, hold it for 5 seconds and then release it. Regardless of how relentless your anxiety provoking thoughts are, please remember that they aren’t true. Take a step back and prioritise your mental health by relaxing. If you’re beginning to overthink or stress over something, stop. Go for a walk, call a friend, watch a movie. Do anything that will help you relax and take a break.
Just make sure to remember the following when it comes to anxiety;
- You are not alone
- You are good enough
- You are loved
- You are going to get through this.
- Anxiety is lying to you.
Mandy Brincat is a Gestalt psychotherapist who enjoys working therapeutically with adults on various issues. These include general mental health and wellbeing. She also has experience working with anxiety, victims of domestic violence and eating disorders.
- Bandelow, B. (2015). Epidemiology of anxiety disorders in the 21st century. Dialogues Clin Neurosci, 17(3), 327–335.
- World Health Organisation. Depression in Europe: Facts and Figures. (2012). Retrieved from https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/noncommunicable-diseases/mental-health/news/news/2012/10/depression-in-europe/depression-in-europe-facts-and-figures