Anxiety – Oct 2020

A topic I often like to write about in October is how massage is so beneficial to our mental health. Massage is very relaxing and can help alleviate conditions such as anxiety, stress, and sleeplessness by increasing our serotonin and dopamine, which are our feel-good hormones, and decreasing our cortisol levels, which is known to be our stress hormone. Mental Illness Awareness Week is October 4 – 10th and October 10th is World Mental Health Day.

The Canadian Mental Health Association provides the following information on Anxiety Disorders:

We all feel nervous or worried at times. This anxiety can be a helpful feeling when it motivates us or warns us of danger. An anxiety disorder, on the other hand, causes unexpected or unhelpful anxiety that seriously impacts our lives, including how we think, feel, and act.

Anxiety disorders are mental illnesses. The different types of anxiety disorders include phobias, panic disorder, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Some mental illnesses are no longer classified as anxiety disorders, though anxiety or fear is a major part of the illnesses, these include obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Anxiety disorders can affect anyone at any age, and they are the most common mental health problem. Sometimes, anxiety disorders are triggered by a specific event or stressful life experience. Anxiety disorders may be more likely to occur when we have certain ways of looking at things (like believing that everything must be perfect) or learn unhelpful coping strategies from others. But sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be a reason.

Many people who experience an anxiety disorder think that they should just be able to ‘get over it’ on their own. Others may need time to recognize how deeply anxiety affects their life. However, anxiety disorders are real illnesses that affect a person’s well-being. It’s important to talk to a doctor about mental health concerns. Some physical health conditions cause symptoms of anxiety. A doctor will look at all possible causes of anxiety.

Normal, expected anxiety is part of being human. Treatment should look at reducing unhelpful coping strategies and building healthy behaviours that help you better manage anxiety.

Each anxiety disorder has its own specific treatments and goals, but most include some combination of the following strategies: counselling, medication, support groups, and self-help strategies.

Supporting a loved one who is experiencing an anxiety disorder can be difficult. You may not understand why your loved one feels or acts a certain way. Some people who experience an anxiety disorder feel like they have to do things a certain way or avoid things or situations, and this can create frustration or conflict with others. You may feel pressured to take part in these behaviours or adjust your own behaviours to protect or avoid upsetting a loved one. Support can be a delicate balance, but you should expect recovery­—in time.

Here are some general tips.

  • Remind yourself that the illness is the problem—anger, frustration, or behaviours related to anxiety are nobody’s fault.
  • Be patient—learning and practicing new coping strategies takes time.
  • If your loved one is learning new skills, offer to help them practice.
  • Listen and offer support, but avoid pushing unwanted advice.
  • Set boundaries and seek support for yourself, if needed.
  • If other family members are affected by a loved one’s anxiety disorder, consider seeking family counselling.

Creative Wellness Solutions offer three 15-minute massage routines. You can choose from a head and face, upper body, or legs and feet massage, or any combination.

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