You could say that most people experience some level of anxiety, whether it’s stress or pressure or tension or worry. However, if your anxiety is constant or intense then it could be debilitating. You may need relief just to function in your day. You may need some relief in order to feel like yourself again. Or you might simply want to be more emotionally available to your children and spouse.
When a person can no longer function in their daily life, then treatment for anxiety may be necessary. Anxiety that is persistent or gets in the way of living may require psychotherapy as well as possible medication. If anxiety is getting in the way of your responsibilities, having healthy relationships, or being able to sleep, you may need to get professional help.
Free Floating Anxiety
One type of diagnosis for anxiety is General Anxiety Disorder. One of the major symptoms of this illness is an experience sometimes referred to as floating anxiety¸ which is a feeling of stress or tension that has no cause or trigger. For instance, it’s natural to feel anxiety or stress before a major event in one’s life, such as public speaking or getting married. This is considered normal and very natural behavior. However, free floating anxiety tends to be excessive and unrealistic. Here are common traits to free floating anxiety:
- it is excessive
- doesn’t have a known source or trigger
- feels unrealistic
- seems to come out of nowhere for no reason
- it is persistent
It’s common for those with an anxiety disorder to experience free-floating anxiety. Although not all illnesses of anxiety will have free floating anxiety as one of its symptoms.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Free floating anxiety is a common illness of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. However, there are a handful of other illness of anxiety that a person might be diagnosed with. A person is diagnosed with a particular illness depending upon the symptoms they are experiencing.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a diagnosis given to those who experience excessive and irrational worry for at least six months.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by repeating and obsessive thoughts and images that might cause an individual to perform the same compulsive rituals over and over again.
- Panic Disorder is a mental health condition in which an individual experiences sudden and repeated attacks of fear, which are often accompanied by a feeling of being out of control. One of the more difficult symptoms of this illness is the fear of having another attack and not knowing when they are going to happen.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness experienced by someone who has experienced a traumatic event, and who is experiencing symptoms of anxiety as a result.
- A Phobia is an irrational persistent fear of an object, situation, or social activity. Examples of specific phobias are claustrophobia, a fear of small spaces.
Here are some important points to remember about anxiety:
- Anxiety can be the result of one event, such as a trauma or a death of a friend or family member.
- Anxiety might begin spontaneously, for no apparent reason, and continue for an extended period of time.
- Anxiety symptoms can range from mild to severe.
- If not treated, anxiety may lead to other unfortunate life events, such as losing a job because of the inability to perform certain tasks, or the loss of a relationship because of not being able to emotionally connect.
- Anxiety may lead to long term negative outcomes, such as social isolation, low self esteem, lack of independence, depression, substance abuse, or insomnia.
- Anxiety can get better with the right amount of support (friends, family, counseling, psychotherapy, support group, medication, etc.)
- Anxiety can also get better with certain relaxation practices and techniques.
- Anxiety can get better with the support of a mental health professional.
Ways to Relieve Your Anxiety
If you’re experiencing constant anxiety, then you are probably very familiar with being in an anxious state. However, to help yourself, get to know what it feels like to be in a relaxed state. In fact, get to know it very well. It will take time, but if you adopt any one of the following practices and do them on a regular basis, you’ll get to know relaxation more than anxiety.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This is a technique where a person first tightens certain muscles in the body and then releases them. The point is that after tightening your muscles in your neck and shoulders, for instance, you can then immediately feel how that part of the body feels when relaxed. The intentional tightening of your muscles at first helps the body then feel the opposite experience of relaxation. To develop a practice of relaxation using this technique, you can do this for various muscles group in your body for a period of at least 10 minutes a day.
- Deep Breathing: Like the above tool, breathing can quickly calm your anxious thoughts down. Because your attention is focused on your breathing and not on your thoughts, your body will begin to calm down. There are many types of deep breathing techniques, such as Square Breathing or Figure 8 breathing. Find one that’s feel right for you.
- Exercise: This is a great stress reliever. And if you are exercising on a regular basis, you are likely to ward off stress and anxiety.
- Yoga: This is a form of exercise that includes a mindful experience of the body. It invites an integrated experience of physical activity, spiritual reflection, and mindfulness. Its effects can be experienced immediately as well as over time.
- Meditation: Meditation is the practice of keeping your attention on one point of focus, such as the breath. It can be very calming and produce healing and insightful experiences that carry into one’s day, such as the ability to relax when feeling anxious. Although meditation might be challenging for some, those who are able to stick with it will find that there are many rewards.
- Be Creative: Creativity can often be a fun and rewarding experience. It can also keep your attention off your anxiety and on creating something that is meaningful or rewarding. For some people, creativity may even be therapeutic.
- Visualization: This can be incredibly relaxing. You might purchase CD’s or a DVD that will guide you to imaginary peaceful states. Doing this on a regular basis can create an ongoing sense of relaxation and peace that will allow you to feel more relaxed throughout your day.
- Have fun: There is a form of therapy known as recreational therapy, which utilizes recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the needs of individuals with mental illness. The point is to have fun, and simply doing so can facilitate psychological health, recovery and well-being. Certain recreational activities can help a person have new experiences of confidence, courage, and cognitive strength.
Remember that it’s important to choose at least one of the above and do them on a regular basis. Make sure you have at least one non-anxious experience once per day. Let your body and your brain become familiar with what it feels like to be relaxed, calm, and at ease.
If you try any of the above and you’re still having trouble, contact Ventura Community Counseling for professional support.