Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

What is it?

Anxiety is a very common emotion that we all experience at some point in our life. It is characterized by an amplified and chronic state of tension and worry that may be caused by either a specific situation or no apparent reason. If you’ve experienced anxiety in the past, you may have noticed that it is often accompanied by different symptoms such as muscle tension, fatigue, headaches and nausea, but also irritability, difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, loss of motivation, and sometimes  depression. It’s important, however, to understand that anxiety is also at the heart of an adaptive and protective system all humans benefit from. It alerts you of and protects you from future potential threats in your environment and helps you mobilize your resources to face such threats. Problems arise when you experience excessive amounts of anxiety due to intense stress that overwhelms the adaptive function of this emotion, thus creating disruption in your life because your coping abilities are being overtaxed.

What is it telling you?

Remember that anxiety is a sort of alarm system that’s telling you something important is going on. Although it’s not a very pleasant emotion, it warns you of a potential danger and helps you respond to that danger. Getting rid of your ability to feel anxiety would be as problematic as losing your ability to feel pain. It would make you physically and emotionally vulnerable. But too much of it will also cause you distress. It’s all about finding the right balance, as always.

How to manage it?
  • Learn about and practice mindfulness. Breathe deeply, cultivate your awareness, and learn how to identify and manage your triggers.
  • Meditate, meditate, and meditate some more! Learn to breathe, focus, restore inner peace, and let go of excess worry with the help of meditation.
  • Don’t run away from anxiety. Write down your thoughts and what makes you anxious. Let those thoughts out of your head and let them dissipate.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Take good care of your body and your mind with good sleep, exercise, and eating habits.
  • Spend more time with positive and uplifting people who make you feel good.