Most of us experience feelings of anxiety in our lives. It can often occur right before coming back to school or leaving home for the first time, or before an important event, job interview, exam, or a new social situation, or first date. Not only is anxiety a common human emotion, but some amount of anxiety can be helpful. Maybe when faced with a looming deadline for a paper for a class, or an important event, anxiety might motivate you to better prepare for an exam, complete an assignment on time, or give a great presentation to your class.
However, too much worry and anxiety, that seems unrelenting, somewhat irrational, and extreme in nature, can have the opposite effect.
Instead of feeling energized, it can be very emotionally draining and can interfere with your life in many areas. Excessive anxiety is a real medical condition that can minimize your ability to focus, result in physical symptoms, disrupt your academic life, and generally negatively impact your daily life.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is marked by persistent, chronic, excessive, or overwhelming worries and fear. The worrying can go on every day, in some form, possibly all day. The anxious feelings seem impossible to “turn off” and may feel like they are beginning to really take over your life. One might experience panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, nightmares, or frightening physical symptoms.
How to Help a Friend:
- Help your friend learn to manage stress in their life. Suggest that they keep an eye on pressures and deadlines and make a commitment to taking time out from study or work.
- Encourage your friend to learn a variety of relaxation techniques. Physical relaxation methods and meditation techniques really can help. View relaxation videos and plan to attend weekly meditation workshops at CAPS. Finding a relaxation technique that best suits your loved one’s lifestyle can work wonders.
- Talk to your friend about the importance of taking care of their physical health. Eating healthy, exercising regularly, and trying to keep a regular sleep pattern can help reduce and control anxiety. Avoiding alcohol, marijuana, and junk food, and minimizing caffeine intake can also be helpful. All of these substances have been shown to induce or intensify anxiety.
- Most importantly, and the most difficult to achieve, is helping your friend learn to replace “negative self talk” with “coping self talk.” Suggest to your friend that they pay attention to situations in which they are thinking something negative like “I can’t do this, it’s just too hard,” and try to re-word it more positively, like “This is hard but I can get through it.” Repeating this to one’s self a few times and with much practice, can really help keep anxiety under control.