What is the difference between anxiety and fear? I’ve heard it said that fear is a specific dread–for instance, you might be afraid of the man next door because you have heard he’s a pervert or because he always looks angry.
Anxiety on the other hand is the dread you experience but can’t explain. You might be having fearful feelings but not be able to say why. This is very challenging because not knowing where the fear comes from, means you have no way to face down the fear.
But relax. There is help. And I know we’ve talked about this before, but with more than fifty percent of 100,000 college students rating anxiety as their biggest issue when visiting a campus clinic, and the Canadian Anxiety Disorder Association stating that anxiety is now the number one mental health problem in Canada, this information bears repeating.
So here is help: Five ways to fight anxiety and come out a winner.
At the end of each day, think of three things that went right. Focus your thoughts on those incidents. Did you hand a report in, and get a good mark? Did someone compliment you? Did you finally make that phone call you’ve been dreading to make? Did you balance your budget? Smile at someone who smiled back at you? How did you make that happen?
Be grateful. Think about something you have–your health, your living space, your cat,–and be thankful for it. It can be something as simple as a beautiful day, or rain for your garden or the sun on your face. Feeling and expressing gratitude leads to reduced anxiety.
Be kind. Doing a good deed doesn’t just lift the spirits of the recipient of your kindness; it somehow magically transforms something inside of us to a good emotion. And here’s the great thing–it doesn’t matter if you save someone from getting hit by a train (very anxiety producing in itself!) or if you just say hello to the lonely senior living down the street–it’s all powerful anti-anxiety medicine..
Volunteer: think of some charity you’d like to lend a helping hand to, then go and sign up as a volunteer. You’ll meet people with similar interests, see that you are better off than some people, and possibly make new friends. At the very least you’ll have social contact and feel productive.
Be compassionate to yourself. Forgive yourself your blunders. Tell yourself you’ve learned something from that embarrassing situation and will do better next time. try to see the humour in it, and understand that you are loveable, you are unique and you are worthy of happiness.