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Anxiety vs. Nervousness: Managing Mild Anxiety

Anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and even post-traumatic stress disorder are all classified as anxiety disorders by mental health professionals. In order to be diagnosed with one, you must meet certain criteria: the way in which you experience your symptoms must be severe enough, appear often enough, and become disruptive enough to be called an anxiety disorder. But what if you’re just nervous? How can you get a handle on being nervous and stop it from gaining ground and becoming an anxiety disorder? And more importantly, how can managing mild anxiety help you keep this condition from impacting your job, your relationships, and your happiness?

If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, an anxiety treatment center can make a difference. Learn more by connecting with a treatment center near you today.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety in all its forms, ranging from mild nervousness to severe panic, is an extremely common human experience. Sometimes people find a small amount of this emotion exciting and fun: for example, skydiving as a hobby would involve some level of nervousness, at least the first time. Similarly, watching a suspenseful or scary movie would create some feeling of anxiety, but many people really enjoy this type of entertainment. Here are a few ways to differentiate problematic or potentially diagnosable anxiety disorders from general nervousness:

  • Anxiety is typically irrational, meaning that when you are feeling it, you know it makes no sense. You can give a number of reasons you should not be anxious, worried, or frightened, and yet you feel terrified. Nervousness is related to real things you have to deal with: you feel nervous about speaking in front of the board of directors, or awaiting lab test results after the doctor saw “something” on your X-ray. Nervousness is a sensible reaction to a potentially scary situation.
  • Anxiety has a physical component. A panic attack is often mistaken for a heart attack—you get real, intense, sometimes overwhelming, and sudden physical symptoms. Nervousness is typically not so physical. You might feel some mild stomach discomfort or a slightly faster than normal heart rate, but typically a case of nerves doesn’t impact your entire body the way a panic attack does.
  • Nervousness ends when the scary event is over. You worry and fret over getting that call back about the job, then the call comes through and you feel relieved or disappointed, but you no longer feel nervous. People struggling with anxiety feel that sickening sense of dread or terror almost every day. It never goes away—it just attaches itself to something new, or it remains generalized or free-floating.

Managing Mild Anxiety

As common as anxiety disorders are, many people just don’t quite fit into the specific categories of anxiety disorders and really are just plain nervous. Often, this is just a part of your personality—some people are more prone to being nervous than others. If you recognize yourself as nervous and don’t like how much of your time is spent worrying or feeling scared, concerned, or upset, consider the following tips:

  • Listen to that voice in your head. The voice that narrates everything you do and talks you through your day can have a big impact on how nervous you feel. Even more importantly, it can change. Start by just listening—notice how you talk to yourself. If that self-talk voice is saying things that make you nervous, start questioning it. At first, this might feel a little awkward but with practice, it will become as natural to be positive as it was to be negative.
  • Exercise. Exercise helps you produce endorphins, which are feel-good hormones that really do improve your ability to relax. And regular exercise can also shift the balance of other feel-good hormones including dopamine and serotonin, both of which are considered important to maintaining an overall positive mood.
  • Diet. There are some foods that tend to make people feel more nervous than others. Caffeine, for example, is a stimulant and can aggravate anxiety. Alcohol is a depressant, but it is also a diuretic, which means it can dehydrate you and make you feel shaky.
  • Develop some insight. Take a long look at where and how your nervousness began (if you can pinpoint a beginning), and ask yourself if being nervous is still relevant. A therapist is a great help in this process, especially if you have been spinning your wheels on your own.

Reach Out to Promises Behavioral Health Today

If you or a loved one is struggling with managing mild anxiety that’s impacting your quality of life, reach out to Promises Behavioral Health. Our team of compassionate treatment professionals can provide you with the tools and resources you need to overcome your anxiety and start living the life you want to live. Connect with us at 844.875.5609 or reach out online to learn more.