Anxiety is on the rise, thanks to the recent pandemic. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the number of people reporting symptoms increased from 11% of the population in 2019 to 41% in 2021.
While the recent uncertainty, job loss and economic hardship associated with the novel coronavirus explain the increase, knowing why doesn’t help those affected. Failure to cope with negative racing thoughts can lead to maladaptive behaviors and physical illness. Here are nine reasons you need to manage your anxiety and tips for how to do so.
1. It Causes Procrastination
Perhaps one of the most insidious aspects of anxiety is how it can prevent you from taking the very actions you need to take to ease your fears. Feeling overwhelmed can lead to procrastination as boogeymen, both real and artificial, keep you paralyzed.
For example, you might toss and turn over what would happen to your family if you died — a not-uncommon fear amid the pandemic. However, you might also worry that mental illness could put coverage out of reach. Why not talk to an agent anyway instead of counting useless sheep? You’ll likely find that mild depression and anxiety won’t impact your rates enough to render a policy unaffordable.
The next time you find yourself lying awake, ask yourself what proactive step you could take to ease your angst and improve your circumstances. Write the task down in your planner and then rest your weary head.
2. It Makes You Lose Sleep
What if writing down your to-do list at the end of the day doesn’t keep you from tossing and turning? As described above, anxiety can keep you up at night.
Do everything you can to maintain sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time each night. Please eliminate electronics from the bedroom, as the blue light from these devices can keep you awake. When shuteye proves elusive, get up and do something in a different room to not tie negative associations to your bed.
3. It Can Make You Gain Weight
The lost sleep from anxiety can make you pack on unwanted pounds. Numerous research studies show a correlation between insomnia and weight gain, primarily due to the hormones ghrelin and leptin.
Ghrelin makes you feel hungry, whereas leptin makes you full. When you lose sleep, levels of the former increase, and levels of the latter decrease. Combining the hormonal effects with more awake time to raid the refrigerator gives you a recipe for gaining weight.
4. It Can Even Make You Sick
If you lose sleep frequently enough, you could find yourself catching every bug that goes around your office. The reason lies in cytokines.
Cytokines are proteins that share an intimate link with the sleep cycle. They help you get rest — but your body also replenishes them while you slumber. These substances also help you combat infection. Inadequate levels could leave you more susceptible to disease.
5. It Turns You Into a Grouch
Do you find yourself snapping at your partner and kids when your stress levels climb? Anxiety can sometimes lead to anger, transforming your pleasant demeanor into a snarl.
If you take a step back and examine yourself mindfully, you’ll probably discover that your irritation stems from fear — what will happen to your career if you don’t finish that budget report, for example. Acknowledge your emotions and apologize to those you hurt in anger. At least then, you won’t have guilt from unresolved personal conflicts adding to your angst.
6. It Impacts Your Parenting Style
You want your kids to grow up healthy and independent. However, failing to manage your anxiety can result in helicopter parenting and overprotective behavior that hinders development.
Learn to differentiate between legitimate concerns and irrational fears. Take precautions, like meeting with your child’s friend’s parents at their home before letting your little one sleep over. Once you perform your due diligence, let your child exert their independence in age-appropriate ways.
7. It Can Damage Your Relationship
Anxiety can damage your relationship. Think about the fights that can result when you’re terrified to take a significant risk, and your partner forges ahead with a devil-may-care attitude — at least, as it seems to your perspective.
Manage your anxieties by freely confessing your fears to your partner. Set a time to look at the conflict logically and reasonably. For example, if they want to buy a new car, but you fret about the expense, sit down and review your budget and savings. It could be that continuing to repair your old junker is eating more money than heading to the dealership.
8. It Can Impact Your Career Trajectory
Anxiety can wreak havoc on your career. Your need for perfection can lead to paralysis as you fret over getting everything just right. You then don’t finish your tasks on time and receive a reprimand — hello, self-fulfilling prophecy.
You can manage your anxiety in the workplace by practicing mindfulness. Try the following panic-busting exercises you can do at your desk.
- Body scan: Starting at your toes, observe your way through each body part. Pause to breathe into and relax those areas where you feel tension.
- Sensory engagement: List five things you can see, followed by four you can touch. Follow with three you can hear, two you can smell, and one you can taste.
These activities ground you in the present moment. Once you stop the negative thought spiral, you can look at the situation more objectively.
9. You Deserve to Feel Relaxed
Finally, anxiety is exhausting. You deserve to feel healthy and relaxed.
If you find your anxiety remains out of control, please seek professional help. Medications, talk therapy or a combination of both can help you control your symptoms.
Please Manage Your Anxiety For These 9 Reasons
You owe it to yourself to manage your anxiety for the nine reasons above. Doing so will make you healthier and happier.
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