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What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. But some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives.

NHS

As written above, anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, and the symptoms range from mild to severe. Some people can become anxious after a specific, identifiable event, such as a trauma. But anxiety can also crop up in everyday life - in normal situations - and people can feel a general sense of unease, sometimes without understanding why. 

Anxiety is the body’s way of responding to stress. It’s what we feel when we are put into what we assume is a threatening situation. Once upon a time, our ancestor's body’s released a ton of hormones in response to a threat, which gave them the ability to react quickly in the face of real physical danger.  This is known as the fight, flight or freeze response. Yet today… this response still happens when there is little, or even no threat at all. For example, you are in no physical danger when you’re taking a written exam, yet you may feel nervous, shaky, a little sweaty, and have a racing heart.

Anxiety is also an umbrella term that covers a number of diagnosable conditions, which you can read about in our additional resources. However, anxious thoughts and feelings are perfectly natural for everybody from time to time, and we’ve listed the various symptoms in our additional resources for you to take a look at. It’s important to remember that one person’s experience of anxiety will differ from another’s - and it can be experienced physically, mentally, emotionally, or a mixture of these.

Resources for Managing Anxiety

Anxiety-Related Conditions - This resource provides information about some common anxiety-related conditions, how they can be approached and managed.

Tips for Reducing Anxiety - If you are experiencing anxiety, we have created a list of some tips for people to help to reduce these feelings. 

Mental Health Wellbeing Guide - This guide aims to help you to take care of your own mental health and wellbeing. It can be used both as a starting point or by those already managing their wellbeing who would like more information. 

Wellness Action Plan - This resource provides a useful way for you to note down what you need to stay mentally well at work. 

You can find the rest of our Mental Health & Wellbeing resources on our FAQ page with some common questions we get asked about Anxiety and other Mental Illnesses.

Managing Anxiety Training

Our Managing Anxiety Training is the latest course to be added to our Mental Health & Wellbeing Training BundleThis IOSH approved course provides staff with ideas and tools to help them better manage these thoughts and feelings.  

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