In society, it sometimes feels like there’s increasing pressure on people to be consistently happy and fulfilled. However, is it really possible to be happy all the time? Ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10 October, the time to reflect on the issues of anxiety and the importance of talking about it is now. This is especially important if it is taking a toll on your relationships, mental health, and wellness.
A social media survey run by the health wellness brand SOLAL reveals that 94% of people feel their anxiety has increased in the last year, with as many as 68% of respondents saying they weren’t aware of what triggered their anxiety.
Anxiety and Its Triggers
Triggers of anxiety aren’t one-size-fits-all. Triggers can include;
- Personal loss
- Family health
- Job security
- Stretched budgets
- Sleep deprivation
- Socializing (or not socializing)
- Putting food on the table
The list goes on. Similarly, the symptoms of anxiety – restlessness, feeling “on-edge”, worry, increased irritability, concentration difficulties, and sleep difficulties, such as problems in falling or staying asleep can differ from person to person.
However, talking about it with people you can trust can help in identifying what your triggers can be and getting the support you need to better manage it and its associated symptoms. In the survey, 33% revealed that they aren’t aware of their triggers.
How to cope
Mishka Loesch is a TV presenter, motivational speaker, and life coach. For her, living and learning to cope with anxiety has been a daily struggle. Mishka first began experiencing symptoms of anxiety in 2015, when her mother was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.
“I hid my anxiety for a year and a half. I didn’t actually know what it was at the time because I hadn’t felt it before,” she says. “But you have to talk about it to help you identify what you’re experiencing and to find a treatment that works for you.”
The word “stress” and “anxiety” is mentioned with alarming frequency and seem to be an accepted norm in modern life.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated people’s stress levels. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group has reported that more than half of South Africans are suffering from pandemic-related stress. To add to this, 68% of respondents surveyed said their partner is not aware of their anxiety struggle, which they prefer to manage on their own.
We hurt those close to us
People who experience anxiety also can become easily frustrated. They may even lash out in anger at the people closest to them when an outside stimulus threatens their sense of routine, balance, and control. It’s important to keep in mind that the people around you– family, friends, and colleagues – aren’t always able to identify that you are going through a tough time. As such, this may end up putting strain on relationships.
Anxiety sufferers often feel stigmatized, alone, and misunderstood, which is why it is often concealed and goes untreated. It’s impossible to fully understand what it feels like unless you’ve experienced it yourself. However, there are ways to be there for those you love who may be experiencing anxiety.
Let’s talk about it
Having recently married her partner of over 10 years, Mishka says that talking about your mental health struggles is a must in your relationship.
“He’s never had anxiety, and so he doesn’t know what it feels like, but I think it’s so important for our loved ones to understand that we don’t always want to talk. We just want you to listen, try to understand, and just be there.”
Starting the conversation around the mental and emotional toll that anxiety takes on people from all walks of life is crucial, especially when the world has seen so much change. Build and work on relationships with the surrounding people, rather than your relationship with anxiety.