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Anxiety: how to recognize it and how to manage it in a natural way

The term anxiety is used daily, specially in a world after COVID-19. However, it can mean very different things. In this article, we will discuss the difference between stress, anxiety and general anxiety disorders.

Situations like exams, public speaking or a medical appointment can make us feel stressed or anxious. This is a normal “flight or fight” response, where our body activates its alert systems to respond to the stressful situation. However, when worry becomes excessive and interferes with daily activities, it might be an anxiety disorder. It is important to understand the differences of each in order to find the proper way to help us through these periods. 

What is stress?

Stress is an emotional response, usually caused by an external trigger. For example, a deadline, a fight, an illness or an uncomfortable situation at work.

Mental and physical symptoms of stress are:

  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Fatigue
  • muscle pain
  • Digestive troubles
  • Insomnia 

The important thing is to understand that stress is a response to a situation and that as soon as that situation is overcame, the symptoms of stress will disappear.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety and stress are very similar. Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear which can be mild or severe. It is normal to feel anxious at certain moments of life (many of these being the same situations which can cause stress). However, anxiety tends to be more persistent and may be present in the absence of a stressor. 

Symptoms of Anxiety:

  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tension
  • Irritability

What are anxiety disorders?

Anxiety disorders differ from daily/normal anxiety in the severity and longevity of the symptoms. Anxiety disorders interfere with normal day to day activities, and sometimes simple tasks may seem impossible to accomplish. Additionally, anxiety disorders may interfere with the feeling of enjoyment, as the constant worry predominates over all other feelings. 

The most common types of anxiety disorders are:

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder: excessive worry on different topics, occurring most days over six months, accompanied by physical symptoms. 
  • Panic disorders: sudden, repeated episodes of intense fear which are accompanied by sweating, dizziness, shortness of breath, abdominal distress, palpitations and/or chest pain. 
  • Phobias: are anxiety disorders triggered by specific situations or things (eg. spiders, flying or social situations). 
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): anxiety disorder developed after the exposure to an event or threat (eg assaults, accidents, trauma, etc) 
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD): is an anxiety disorder characterised by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviours (compulsions), usually as rituals to prevent these thoughts. 

If anxiety is affecting your daily activities, please consult a specialist. Anxiety disorders should receive appropriate treatment and support.

What can we do to naturally alleviate anxiety?

Stress and anxiety both respond well to coping mechanisms. Physical activity, healthy diet and sleep are key. Connecting with nature and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake is also suggested. 
From Wilden.herbals, we are working on a natural infusion to help cope with stress and anxiety.Thanks to the brain enhancing properties of gingko (Ginkgo biloba) and the adaptogenic properties of rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), this infusion aims to overcome stressful moments. Additionally, biancospino (Crataegus oxycantha) and chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) provide a relaxing effect, while mint (Menta piperita) and bitter orange (Citrus aurantium) help ease the digestive symptoms.