It’s Sunday evening. As you glance at the time, the to-do list flashes in your mind yet again.
Having only accomplished the tip of the iceberg over the weekend, you start to panic. From
sorting out your bills to finishing up that dreaded assignment and promising to catch up with a
friend, it all begins to feel heavy. Instead of getting down to business, you reflect on what you’ve
done all weekend – binge watching the 17 episodes of Stranger Things wasn’t worth it after all.
You promise yourself you’ll have a better week, but the vicious cycle repeats itself again and
Panic. Anxiety. In the distance, sirens.
The struggle is very real. Let’s face it, everyone feels on edge every now and again. Due to
today’s fast-paced environment, we put ourselves in many intimidating and stressful scenarios,
whether it’s in a social, university or work setting. While some stress and anxiety is normal,
going through phases of chronic stress is silently damaging your health. In fact, a little bit of
pressure can boost your productivity, increase your focus and enhance your concentration to
finish the task. However, when stress and anxiety become a daily occurrence, this is when things
begin to crumble.
Types of Anxiety:
More than one in six British adults have experienced a neurotic episode in the last week alone.
Anxiety is an extremely common, and often disregarded as a serious condition. Although there
are many common triggers, anxiety is an umbrella term that encompasses an array of different
conditions. The most common types of anxiety include the following:
● Generalised anxiety disorder: This condition affects your day-to-day life, and may
manifest into depression if not treated. You worry about general life events and activities,
and often suffer from disturbed sleep and feeling on edge.
● Social anxiety disorder: Instantly feel nervous when you walk into a room filled with new
people? Profusely sweating from the thought of having to go on that first date? You’re
not alone. It is also common to experience an increased heart rate and shakiness.
● Phobia: Whether you are afraid of heights, spiders, or horror movies, having a phobia of
an object, place, situation, feeling or animal is very common.
● Panic attacks: Having frequent episodes of panic attacks can be frightening and
overwhelming. For many, a panic attack may occur without a specific trigger, and can
cause chest pain, fear, difficulty breathing, nausea, dizziness and more.
While there are many other types of anxiety, it is important to realise that their effect on the body
is the same. When stress, hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released in response,
which are often known as the flight/fight hormones. To allow the body to get rid of the insult, this
biological response is really essential. However, when this response doesn’t shut down due to
constant stress and anxiety, it can lead to many health complications.
The Science: The Dangers of Chronic Stress
In an ideal world, the cortisol only comes out to play when we need that sudden burst of energy
to combat a stressor, and then returns back to normal as soon as we are ready to relax. For
many suffering with constant anxiety,, that is usually not the case. The cortisol ‘alarm’ does not
turn off, leaving us with high cortisol levels lingering around our bodies for longer than required.
This hormonal imbalance can affect every biological system, causing everything from adrenal
fatigue, weight gain, skin conditions, weakness, difficulty concentrating, and impaired immunity.
If the stress is not dealt with overtime, this can eventually progress to increasing your risk of
developing chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and more.
If you want to take control of your health, learning how to cope with stress and anxiety is critical.
A healthy mind makes a healthy body, and your mental triggers should not be dismissed. If you
are worried about your anxiety and stress levels, there are a multitude of mechanisms and
lifestyle changes you can adopt to take control of your triggers and combat your stress once and
Written by Salma Dawood – @salamidawood