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Nice to Meet You, Anxiety

During the time I lived in China, there was a period between 2012 and 2013 when I went through a difficult situation that affected various aspects of my life for over a year. I often felt short of breath and a pressure in my chest. Even in the company of familiar people, a sense of suffocation and uneasiness would overwhelm me, preventing me from enjoying the moment. At times, the intensity of these symptoms was such that I felt on the verge of losing control. The uncertainty and lack of understanding about what was happening plunged me into a constant state of restlessness. It was indeed generalized anxiety. If I had been able to identify the signs of this disorder at the time, perhaps I wouldn't have taken so long to cope with it effectively.

Photo credits: Paco Bernal

Emotional intelligence, particularly self-awareness, plays a crucial role in managing anxiety. This skill allows us to identify early signals that help us prepare with coping mechanisms and seek professional help if necessary. Self-awareness also enables us to detect thought patterns that precipitate and accompany the physiological symptoms of anxiety. Once we are aware of these patterns, we can address them with techniques such as reframing.

Let's now look at some of the most common signals associated with anxiety episodes that we can recognize:

  • Physical sensations: Perhaps the signs that we can begin to notice more clearly are those affecting our body. Among the most common physical sensations, we find muscle tension manifesting as stiffness or pain in the muscles, especially in the back, neck, and shoulders. We may also experience an increase in heart rate and breathing, hence the usual feeling of breathlessness. In some cases, anxiety is accompanied by sweating, tremors, and even mild dizziness. Finally, our sleep patterns are also affected, potentially leading to insomnia.

  • Related emotions: Anxiety is not only reflected in our body but also in our emotions. Among the most common are restlessness and irritability, with constant nervousness and difficulty relaxing. We may also feel fear and apprehension, anticipating negative situations. It is also common to experience a sense of being out of control, as described in the introduction.

  • Cognitive symptoms: Among the most common thoughts accompanying anxiety are excessive and intrusive worries, resulting in constant rumination about past or future events related to the aforementioned anticipation of possible problems. On the other hand, it is common to catastrophize situations, magnifying the negative consequences of any event, no matter how small. Additionally, we may have negative thoughts about ourselves, such as constant self-criticism or low self-esteem.

Developing self-awareness will allow you to become a better observer of your own emotions, thoughts, and sensations. This capacity is crucial for detecting anxiety in its early stages and developing effective strategies to manage it before it intensifies. Remember that the information in this post is purely informative, and the best option in the case of acute anxiety episodes is to seek the advice of a professional. Don't hesitate for a moment to turn to this service for the tools and support you need.

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