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What is Anxiety and How Much is Normal?


We all experience anxiety at some time in our lives.

We feel nervous, worried or apprehensive about an event or situation, maybe a test, the pressure at work or a relationship issue. Usually, the anxiety ends when the stressful event or situation passes.


When is my Anxiety a Problem?


For some people, the feelings of anxiety are very intense and pervasive. It is not simply linked to a particular event or situation, it is hard to control, it happens regularly, and it interferes with life on a daily basis.


What does anxiety look and feel like?


Anxiety feels different for every person. Some common symptoms include:

1. Excessive worry – persistent, anxious thoughts that interfere with daily life

2. Difficulty sleeping – lying awake feeling agitated or worried, maybe about specific problems or maybe about nothing in particular

3. Irrational fears – overwhelming, disruptive worries that are out of proportion to the actual risk, morbid thoughts, a sense of impending doom

4. Physical discomfort – muscle tension, tight chest, sweating, trembling, headaches

5. Stomach issues – cramping, nausea, diarrhoea, bloating, constipation

6. Panic – a sudden gripping fear or helplessness, a racing heart, breathlessness, feeling faint, dizziness

7. Self-consciousness – fear of social situations, fear of being judged, persistent self-doubt. This makes it hard to work, maintain relationships and meet new people.

8. Unhelpful thoughts – reliving unhappy events (possibly traumatic but sometimes just uncomfortable events), irrational anger

9. Feeling restless – being tense, having difficulty concentrating

10. Perfectionism – constantly judging yourself, fear of making mistakes, unreasonably high standards

It these symptoms are persistent and enduring, you may have a problem with anxiety.


How much anxiety is normal?


Anxiety related to a specific event, that passes when the event is over, is a normal part of life. Everyone fells nervous or worried from time to time. For some people, however, the anxiety becomes frequent and forceful and starts to severely impact on their lives. The symptoms of an anxiety disorder often develop slowly over time, so it can be hard to know how much is too much.


How can you tell if your normal anxiety has crossed the line into a disorder?


Normal anxiety is for a limited time and is linked to a stressful event or situation. The anxiety experienced by people with an anxiety disorder is frequent, persistent and pervasive over a long period of time, not connected to a particular occurrence and impacts on their daily behaviour and quality of life.


What causes anxiety?


There is no one single cause of anxiety but there are some factors that may trigger or contribute to anxiety and for most people there is a combination of reasons.

• Genetic factors
• Poor physical health
• Personality type
• Traumatic experiences
• Ongoing stressful situations
• Alcohol or drug use
• Loss or grief
• Bullying
• Low self esteem
• Health problems
• Family break ups
• Loneliness


How anxiety affects your life?

Anxiety becomes a problem when it interferes with your everyday life. You may start avoiding situations due to irrational fears or constant worrying. Anxiety can impact on relationships; you may stop socialising or become overly judgemental of your loved ones. Anxiety can impact on your study or work; you become less productive, have difficulty concentrating and become crippled with self-doubt. Anxiety starts to severely affect your quality of life and can have serious consequences for your physical health.


Help & Support


Certain lifestyle changes can help ease the symptoms of anxiety, including:
• A balanced diet
• Limiting alcohol
• Getting enough sleep
• Regular exercise
• Meditation or deep breathing
• Enjoying hobbies
• Journaling your feelings
• Talking to someone


With the right treatment, you can recover from anxiety. Seeking support can help you recover more quickly. If anxiety is affecting your ability to get on with and enjoy life, contact Wellbeing Therapy Space on


Author: Claire Mansveld of Hey Zeus! Creative

Image by of Unsplash