When money becomes tight, careers get derailed by layoffs or loved ones face serious illnesses, most people naturally feel stressed, afraid and worried. However, why are some people feeling anxious for no obvious reason and are getting crushed under the force of intruding negative thoughts even when all is right with their world?
Some people have a tendency to worry more than others. Those with changes in brain chemistry for various reasons can develop anxiety disorders seemingly out of the blue.
Others have experienced times of severe hardship in the past. As a result, they lie awake at night trembling at the possibility that everything could fall apart again.
Sometimes, a combination of factors plays a role. Regardless of the underlying causes, you can overcome your anxiety and allow yourself to feel joy.
The Science of Anxiety
Anxiety refers to feelings of worry and fear. Although classified as mental illnesses, those suffering from anxiety disorders do experience physiological changes, as well as differences in emotion and mental state.
Everyone can experience anxiety on occasion. However, to be classified as having a disorder, you have to be feeling anxious with or without a reason for a period of six months or more.
Several types of anxiety disorders exist. Specific phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and generalized anxiety disorder all fall under the anxiety spectrum.
Certain forms are more common than others. For example, roughly 15 million Americans struggle with social anxiety as opposed to the slightly more than 2 million who battle OCD.
Many of those suffering from anxiety disorders fail to seek help. Those who feel unable to pinpoint a specific external stressor causing their anxious feelings benefit from an evaluation by a mental health professional to determine if a neurotransmitter imbalance may exist.
When Unreasonable Anxious Feelings Poison Joy
Those who find themselves feeling anxious for no known reason often have intrusive thoughts that suck the joy out of everyday life. These little mental vampires constantly whisper threats of losing everything into the afflicted person’s ear.
They can make those struggling constantly question otherwise healthy relationships or their financial security. Moreover, this can happen even when you have money in the bank and a well-paying job.
These thoughts don’t just steal happiness. Ironically, dwelling on negative thoughts can bring about the very thing you fear most. Constantly checking a partner’s computer or cellphone for evidence of infidelity can drive the most faithful spouses away out of sheer exasperation.
Commitment to improving job performance can ignite a career. However, continually checking with the boss before making minor decisions can result in superiors questioning whether or not you are capable of performing your duties.
Even if intrusive thoughts lead to no adverse consequences, they nevertheless take a toll on the overall quality of your life. Worry keeps far too many people from attempting to reach their goals out of fear of failure.
This is an unfortunate occurrence. After all, how can anyone know every publisher will shoot down their novel if they don’t bother writing it in the first place? How can anyone tell the boss will nix their request for a raise before they even ask?
How to Stop Feeling Anxious for No Reason and Break Free of Fear
Constant anxiety can leave you feeling bad and sometimes worthless. So how can you overcome your anxious feelings and live your best life? Depending on the underlying cause of the ceaseless apprehension, different approaches may help you break free of your personal prison of fear.
If you feel that anxiety has hijacked your life, you can try the below activities to get a grip on your fight-or-flight response:
Examine the cause
Those who have suffered severe economic anxiety in the past may fear falling back into poverty. It is particularly likely if the previous crisis resulted through no fault of their own.
Those who lost their jobs to layoffs, for example, justifiably may feel as if the rug can get ripped out from under them again. Some people are still feeling uncertain and anxious even if they now work for a financially sound company.
Those who have experienced infidelity in previous relationships may likewise suspect any future partners of cheating every time they leave the house unaccompanied. Understanding why fear exists is the first step toward healing.
Write it out
Jotting fears down has a way of turning overwhelming obstacles into mere paper tigers. Sit down and compose a list of all the things that could potentially go wrong. Then combat each item with a positive reflection on what may go right.
Reflect on consequences
Imagine the worst possible fear came to pass. Unless the worst-case scenario involves death, overcoming future hardships remains an option. Financial woes may have led to past food insecurity, for example, but starving to death didn’t come to pass.
Focus on the positive
Did your previous job loss create a roadblock on the career highway? Or did it actually open the door to a new opportunity? Likewise, kicking an abusive or neglectful partner to the curb can hurt. At the same time, it also comes with the freedom to find true love.
If worry and intrusive thoughts continue, seek the help of a qualified mental health professional. Talk therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, can build perspective and teach the brain new ways of responding to external traumas. Medications can correct neurotransmitter imbalances and calm the constant internal storm.
Waving Goodbye to Anxieties
Feeling anxious without a reason and living in a state of constant worry or fear can lead to ulcers at best and lack of enjoyment of life at worst. Whether or not persistent negative thoughts bear merit, they nevertheless impact the quality of your everyday life for the worse.
By embracing the positive and seeking help when necessary, you will hopefully make fear a thing of the past and joy the new reality.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kate Harveston is a health and wellness journalist from Pennsylvania. Her favorite topics revolve around mental health and sexual health. If you enjoy her work, you can visit her at her blog, So Well, So Woman.
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