Anxiety affects people of all ages and backgrounds. It is characterised by feelings of worry, fear, and nervousness, which can range from mild to severe. There are many different factors that can cause anxiety, including genetics, environmental factors, and life experiences. In this blog post, I will outline some of the most common causes of anxiety and highlight how to prevent anxiety from getting worse.
Stressful life events
Stressful life events are one of the most common causes of anxiety. These can include major life changes like moving, starting a new job, financial difficulties, or the death of a loved one. When we experience stressful events, our bodies respond by releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones help us to cope with the stressful situation. However, when stress is ongoing and not well-managed, it can lead to anxiety and other mental health problems.
Connection between Anxiety and Health
While environmental factors play a significant role in the development of anxiety, genetics can also play a part. Research has shown that people with a family history of anxiety are more likely to develop the condition themselves. This suggests that there may be genetic factors that make some people more susceptible to anxiety than others.
Another factor that can contribute to anxiety is imbalances in brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are responsible for transmitting signals between neurons in the brain. When there is an imbalance in these neurotransmitters, it can lead to anxiety and other mental health challenges.
What can make anxiety worse?
If you are experiencing anxiety, there are several things that are likely to make it worse.
Not getting enough sleep: Lack of sleep can be a major trigger for anxiety. Make sure you are getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night to help reduce anxiety symptoms. A consistent, healthy bedtime routine can help with this, such as avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and sugar and turning off devices at least an hour before going to bed.
Sedentary Lifestyles: Exercise has been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms whereas a lack of movement in the day can have the opposite effect. Regular exercise can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. Exercise doesn’t have to be intense or take up a lot of your time; a 30-minute walk or 15 minutes using a yoga app can be just as helpful.
Multi-tasking and over-scheduling: Our lives are so much busier than they ever were; we can sometimes pack in a lot in a day (and into our heads!). Trying to slow down and focus on one task at a time can be a powerful tool for reducing anxiety. Mindfulness is a technique that involves focusing on the present moment and being fully engaged in the present rather than worrying about the future.
Alcohol, smoking or vaping: Alcohol and nicotine can sometimes feel like they de-stress us at the end of a long day, but both exacerbate anxiety symptoms. If you are experiencing anxiety, it is best to avoid these substances altogether and try and find other ways to relax, such as a soak in the bath, reading a book or calling a friend. In conclusion, there are many different causes of anxiety, including genetics, environmental factors, and life experiences. If you are experiencing anxiety, there are several things you can do to help prevent it from getting worse. These include getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, practicing mindfulness, and avoiding alcohol and nicotine. By taking steps to manage anxiety, you can improve your overall mental health and wellbeing. If you feel you need further help to manage your anxiety, it can be helpful to speak with a counsellor or your GP.