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Managing and Coping with Anxiety

Anxiety is a complex emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worry and apprehension. It is your body's natural response to stress and in small doses, it can be a good thing.


If your feelings of anxiety are extreme, frequent and interfere with everyday activities, you may have an anxiety disorder.


Types of Anxiety Disorders

There are many different types of anxiety disorders and each type tends to have its own particular triggers. Some common types include:


Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): This type of anxiety disorder involved a general sense of worry about a lot of things, a lot of the time. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Restlessness

  • Muscle tension

  • Irritability

  • Fatigue


Social anxiety disorder (social phobia): This is the extreme fear of being embarrassed or judged by others in social situations. With social phobia, everyday interactions can cause significant anxiety and self-consciousness, which may lead to avoidance that can disrupt your life.


Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD): OCD involved a pattern of frequent, repeated actions that are the result of irrational, anxious thoughts. In severe cases, the cycle of anxious thoughts and compulsive responses can become so constant that an individual may struggle to think about or do anything else.


Separation anxiety: This is the fear of being away from home or your loved one.


Panic disorder: This is a condition in which a person experiences recurring panic attacks. Panic attacks come on suddenly, in response to known or unknown triggers, and involve intense feelings of fear or losing control. A panic attack can be very frightening for the individual experiencing it.

Common symptoms of a panic attack include:

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Feeling dizzy

  • Increased heart rate

  • Light-headedness

  • Chest pain

  • Shaking

  • Sweating or child

  • Nausea or upset stomach


Many of the symptoms of a panic attack mimic those of a heart attack. Thinking that a panic attack may be a heart attack or worrying about having a panic attack in public can exacerbate symptoms.

Specific phobias: A phobia is an excessive fear for a specific object, situation or activity. Phobias are not usually as debilitating as other types of anxiety.


Coping with Anxiety


Counselling and medication prescribed by a doctor can both be helpful when dealing with an anxiety disorder. Lifestyle changes can also effectively relieve some of the stress and anxiety you experience.


Self-Help Strategies

Practice self-care: Taking simple steps to care for yourself can help reduce anxiety and positively change your entire body-mind system. Some examples include:

  • Eating a healthy diet

  • Getting enough sleep

  • Staying physically active

  • Avoiding alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine


Relaxation techniques: Deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga and mindfulness can help calm your body and mind.


Stay connected: Social connection is important. Spending too much time alone can allow worry and anxiety to grow. Doing things with people you trust can give you a break and offer new experiences to enjoy. Attend ceremonies to reconnect with your self and culture.

Spend time in nature: There is a evidence that just being in nature is good for our mental health.


Anxiety and Depression

While anxiety and depression can exist separately, it is not uncommon for mental health conditions to occur together. Anxiety can be a symptom of major depression and anxiety disorder can also trigger worsening symptoms of depression.


Mushkegowuk Council has health and mental health professions who are equipped to help you with your mental health. We also have traditional healers and practitioners who provide ceremony and counselling. Contact us for more information and to take the first step towards intergenerational healing.


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