A tightness in your chest. Sweaty palms. Muscle tension. No, it’s not a heart attack. These are just some of the symptoms of anxiety. And for many people, these feelings are an everyday occurrence.
“Anxiety is something that affects people of every age,” said Shane Hamilton, an integrated health therapist at Sanford Health. “We see kids who have separation anxiety to adults who have panic attacks. Depending on the severity of their anxiety, it can interfere with their daily lives.”
Anxiety can present itself in many different ways in different people. However, it is often described as an uncontrollable worrying or nervous feeling accompanied by physical symptoms such as the inability to catch one’s breath. And just like the effects, the cause can vary as well.
Learn more: What is generalized anxiety disorder?
“There could be a specific trigger that causes the anxiety, but sometimes those anxious thoughts can come out of nowhere,” Hamilton said. “This can happen anytime of the day, but night can be an especially hard.”
Throughout the day your mind is focused on your job, school or your family, but at night the body calms down and your thoughts have a chance to run rampant.
Getting help for anxiety
“The best place to start is by talking to your primary care provider,” Hamilton said. “They can help set you on the right course by referring you to a counselor or therapist. We can then go over coping techniques that you can use throughout the day to keep your anxiety at bay.”
Some of these coping skills include yoga, meditation and slow, deep belly breathing. He also recommends talking yourself through your moments of anxiousness.
“Remind yourself that you’ve felt like this before and that you’ve gotten through it before, too,” Hamilton said. “This can be especially helpful for kids as they tend to believe it more when it comes from them versus an adult or parent telling them they’ll be all right.”
Speak up about your symptoms
Hamilton’s other pointer is to make sure you are talking about it to those closest to you, and creating an open dialogue for your children to express their worrying thoughts.
“1 in 5 kids experience anxiety,” he said. “We need to normalize it, to not be afraid to talk about it and to make sure we are facing our anxiety head on. Because it shouldn’t be something you face alone.”