By Indre Bagdonaite
Understanding Anxiety (mental health vs physical health)
Anxiety is a natural and useful response that we perceive when we feel under threat, are worried, tense or afraid. It can feel unpleasant to ensure we take notice and keep safe. But it requires intervention when it occurs frequently and for sustained periods of time, interfering with our lives (education, work, relationships and social life). Anxiety affects our mind and mental wellbeing as well as being highly related to our physical health. Most people experience anxiety during their lives so it's important to understand why we may experience it, how it relates to our physical health and how we can try to combat the feelings.
Having negative and difficult thoughts, does not automatically suggest the presence of anxiety. Anxiety presents itself through physical symptoms, meaning that it originates from our body rather than our mind. However, our mind is like a missing puzzle piece - without it, the puzzle cannot be completed.
Let’s say you are in an uncomfortable position, such as having to go to a new public place by yourself. You begin to experience negative thoughts, for example ‘people are going to laugh at me because I will be walking around by myself’ or ‘I’m going to get lost’. These thoughts are creating anxious and fearful feelings. Some may just have those few thoughts and initial feelings and after an hour or less, it will pass, and they will get on with their day as per usual.
For others, it may lead to the occurrence of anxiety. Anxiety may begin to present itself through various physical symptoms. Some common physical symptoms of anxiety include dizziness; strong, fast or irregular heartbeat; muscle aches and tension; shaking; sweating more than usual. Although it's worth noting that every individual will experience anxiety in different parts of their physical body. And because of this, it's important for you to focus on every part your body when experiencing anxiety in order to find where it originates from as this will allow you to deal with it better.
For one person the symptoms of anxiety may occur mostly in their stomach and back of their head. More specifically, they could experience an upset stomach, issues with digestion and severe headaches which occur at the back of the head due to the tension in their neck. But for others, they could experience anxiety in places such as their throat or limbs.
It is important to find the location of anxiety in the physical body in order to learn how to cope with it and what to expect in case our anxiety increases. Appreciating that anxiety is not just in your mind, but rather in your physical body too - it may be easier to control the types of thoughts you allow to enter your mind. Of course, it is impossible to stop negative thoughts, but self-awareness can help you understand what situation has created the thoughts that are currently present in your mind. Negative thoughts create negative feelings and the overflow of such feelings leads to the occurrence of anxiety, which presents itself through physical symptoms.
From this, we can see that mental health and physical health go hand in hand. This shows the importance of discussing mental health issues as our physical health can otherwise be largely affected. You should not be embarrassed to talk about mental health issues, because they are equally as important as physical health issues.
We can often hear people saying that their physical health issues began to affect their mental health due to the affected quality of life. In the same way, mental health issues can begin to affect your physical health, which in return will only increase the severity of your mental health issues due to the cycle of unhealthy overthinking. Going to get help for mental health issues is a big step - but it’s a step worth taking in order to improve your mental and physical health and in turn. your quality of life. Do not give up and keep going. Learn about mental health, research it and you will begin to understand how best to cope and begin your journey of recovery.
You can read more of our articles specifically about anxiety here.