So, we’re bidding 2021 farewell and ushering in a new year. A Health For Mzansi reader, however, is feeling rather weary of what 2022 might bring. This “friend in crisis” reached out to the Sisters Without Shame podcast.
Cape Town clinical psychologist Evelyn Beneke joins episode 22 of the podcast to share some coping tips to manage anxiety in 2022. “Anxiety is the anticipation of future threats, and that understanding anxiety is proportional to the ability to treat it, it only gets better when you admit it.”
Are you anxious?
According to Beneke, people inclined to be anxious are characterised by the following:
- they are ungrounded;
- overly emotional;
- catastrophise everything – everything is a disaster;
- they struggle to accept situations; and
- are very strict on themselves.
“But there are other people who are less inclined to catastrophise situations, people who are open to the possibility that there isn’t one interpretation to situations. In therapy it is emphasised that people need to silence the little voices in their heads and supress their emotions to recover from anxiety disorder.”
When it becomes a disorder
Well, there are many different types of anxiety, and they differ in how long they last. In identifying the type of anxiety that one might have, professionals like Beneke must assess the rationality of the danger in the anxiety of a person.
If your anxiety randomly pops up, then that is a generalised anxiety disorder. A part of it is excessive anxiety, often where the person finds it difficult to control the worrying.
- difficulty to concentrate;
- easily irritated;
- muscle tension; and
- sleep disturbance.
“These are objective criteria for an anxiety disorder diagnosis,” advises Beneke.
How to cope with anxiety
To manage your anxiety this new year, “you need to identify in your mind the things that you are telling yourself about the new year, what catastrophic things you’re telling yourself about the new year and stop thinking about those, try by all means to supress your emotions and focus on yourself.
“If you are feeling distressed and cannot function socially and cannot work properly then you will have to seek help. So, it should make you unhappy and distressed for you to be extremely concerned and seeking help, otherwise small exercises to cool things off.”
Anxiety in kids
In kids, anxiety mainly manifests as separation anxiety. This is normal. If its excessive then it is supressed by a lot of crying, tantrums, freezing, clinging behaviour or failure to speak.
“People who work with children normally weigh down the anxiety by encouraging an attachment between children and parents. This, so that children are secure that when they get home they will be welcomed by their mothers/fathers thus giving them a positive outlook on life and the world.”
How to listen to the full interview on Sisters Without Shame
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