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One of the reasons why I stopped making videos for a while was because I felt like I wasn't in a good place to be creative and share. And I believe that, just like me, there are many people out there who might feel in a similar way, uninspired, without identifying what's going on and doing something about it. 

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In this post, I talk about ...

  • How anxiety builds up
  • Hidden signs of anxiety
  • Small actions to keep anxiety out of the radar

Prefer to watch the video?

How anxiety builds up

There can be many different sources of anxiety. If we don't consider things like trauma or illness, how can we identify other sources of anxiety to better respond to these potential threats?
One significant source of anxiety is stress. I have made a video about the difference between stress and anxiety that I'll link here for you to watch. But basically, stress is a short-term condition based on real challenges that one is faced with, while anxiety becomes a long-term condition that many times is based on hypothetical challenges and excessive worry.

When we face challenges in life and don't pay attention to the signs of stress, and we just keep going and going and going, chances are sooner or later we'll pay the price. Our system will tell us it's time to take a break. And it will tell us in louder and louder ways if we fail to listen to the more subtle signs.

Of course, the best is to listen from the beginning, so we don't need to go through the pain of having our bodies "scream at us", for usually, that's when the situation has gotten so bad that it's going to be more challenging to turn things around.

That takes us to point 2.

Hidden signs of anxiety

How can we know that anxiety is starting to build up?

I like to think in weather metaphors sometimes. Think of a windy day. You get out of the door with a bunch of important documents in your hand, plus groceries, plus the car keys, and maybe a child or a dog in the other hand. Are you getting the picture? 

Of course, you feel the wind straight away, and it's hard to handle everything. But sometimes, the wind starts to pick up slowly, gradually, and it's harder to distinguish from a point when you can handle things to that point when things start to get out of control. 

Some signs that "the wind" has become way too strong are:

  • Easy irritability
  • Muscle tension or pain, frequent headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping, restlessness, and daily fatigue

Small actions to keep anxiety "out of the radar"

Self-care first. All the time you take off for self-care might not seem important to you at that moment, but the rewards are great and certain. Taking breaks to care for yourself is essential. Whether that is a walk in the park, or a bath without your mobile, a good night sleep, or a nice healthy and delicious non-processed meal, all counts of recharging and telling your body and mind, "it's ok, we are, and we're going to be fine". 

Practice psychological flexibility. Are you used to doing things over and over again in the same way? And are you used to think about things also in the same way? Then it would be good for you to practice becoming more flexible in your approach. Psychological flexibility is an incredible tool when dealing with anxiety because it helps to see different angles to the problem that might be causing anxiety in the first place. I have made another video on positive reframing were I talk a bit about this. The point here is, it's very important it is to try and explore different perspectives on the problems we face, so we can be more creative in our responses. And so we can feel more empowered to handle these challenges instead of falling into states of anxiety.

Write it all down. One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to become used to writing it all down. Especially if there is something that's worrying you, then having it written down in front of you will help you immensely. You'll gain a new perspective, and you'll be better able to find different solutions to those problems. So having a notebook and a pen and dedicating some time to exploring what's on your mind that's bothering you can be an amazing way to keep anxiety from developing and getting into a creative problem-solving mode instead. 

Create some kind of control. Track your habits, force yourself not to eat that evening chocolate, commit yourself to some easy goal that you can make yourself achieve, and in this way, send a strong signal that you're in charge that you can make a decision and make changes in your life. A message that you have power and control over your life, even if in small measures.

To summarise

  • It's important to understand how anxiety builds up, and to recognise the signs of its presence before it becomes too noticeable. 
  • Signs like muscle tension, irritability, or difficulty sleeping can all be clear indicators that things are falling out of balance.
  • We also talked about how self-care is crucial when dealing with anxiety and cultivating psychological flexibility, dedicating time to write things down, and practising creating some sense of control through small commitments and tracking your achievements. 
  • Most important take-away

    Anxiety is best handled in its initial state. And when you are proactive in handling it in this way, you can live an anxiety-free life.

    Now it's time to act

    Of all the tips that I mentioned in the post, was there anything that stood out as something you'd like to do? Pick one thing and set the time to do it.

    Continue reading...

    About the author

    Ana Batista is a psychologist focused on making change easy. Besides therapy, she teaches online courses and workshops on positive psychology, brain science, and self-authoring. 


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