Self, Health And Wellness

4 Reasons Why Anxiety Is On The Rise (& How To Deal With It)

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What Causes Anxiety Disorders & How To Deal With It When The Stress Is Too Much

Everywhere I turn, I feel that people are talking about anxiety. 

What is anxiety? The American Psychological Association defines it as "an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure."

Maybe you are feeling overwhelmed by life, relationships, school, your job, or your children. Or maybe your child is experiencing nervousness on a regular basis, and you feel at a loss as to how to help with their stress.  

RELATED: 3 Reasons Your Anxiety Gets Triggered Randomly — Even When Things Are Fine

As a psychotherapist, I believe anxiety is on the rise in the United States, affecting around 6.8 million people in the U.S. Some folks would argue that society is just more aware of anxious feelings and more willing to talk about them versus actually increasing.

I believe all of the above is true. The more people pay attention to anxiety symptoms, the more they can learn how to deal with anxiety in their daily life.

What causes anxiety disorders? Here are 4 reasons and how you can deal with it.

1. Modern technology 

We are no doubt connected to our smart devices and checking our social media 24/7. Modern technology, in a variety of different forms, feeds our anxious thoughts and feelings. We are always connected, constantly multi-tasking, and continuously receiving news alerts that cause alarm.

Social media is its own modern technological animal. Social media breeds comparison and comparison is the enemy of satisfaction.

While checking Facebook updates or Instagram feeds (for the ninth time today), you probably find yourself wishing for the lavish vacation Joe from your old job just took with his beautiful wife and 3 adorable kids. Or, you are feeling sad and inadequate because you weren’t asked out by your crush like Emily from homeroom just did.

We all know that the majority of people on social media only post the highlights. Yet, we find ourselves scrolling mindlessly multiple times a day and often feeling worse about ourselves because we aren’t living up.

Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful for modern technology much of the time. But, we need to limit how much time we spend in front of our devices so that we can live life more freely.

2. Lack of exercise

Many individuals don't make time to exercise on a regular basis. People get very creative with their excuses as to why they don’t work out!

But, exercise is good for the mind, body, and soul. Once again, this is something with which everyone can agree, but few people seem to follow through with exercising regularly.

One mantra I use personally and encourage my clients to use is to "begin with the end in mind", from Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change.

Ask yourself, how do you feel at the end of a workout or long walk? My guess is you feel great! You are glad you made the effort and you feel energized! Begin exercising while bearing these thoughts in mind.

I promise that it will be motivating. Build exercise into your schedule. Go on your lunch break. Take a friend out. Use a mantra. Exercise decreases anxiety so get out there and do something active.

RELATED: What You Should (& Should Not) Do When Someone You Love Is Having A Panic Attack

3. Lack of community and social support

As a society, we are becoming more and more isolated. We have food delivered to our homes instead of going out. We opt to watch movies on our big screen TV’s versus the local movie theatre. We work from home alone. And we don’t know our neighbors.

Many of us do not have a community to call home and lack social support when we need it most. As isolation and loneliness increase, so does anxiety.

Find a community to join like a local church, a club, or get more involved at your child’s school. It takes more effort these days to get to know the people around you, but it is well worth it.

4. Increased rumination

As a human race, we have become more inward focused than outward because food and water are so plentiful. Our ancestors had to hunt and gather for their food. There was no time to obsess about things outside of their control. There was too much pressure to survive.

As humans, we have become more mentally sensitive leading us to be more anxious and depressed because life in many ways has become "easier".

This may sound counterintuitive but think about it. It is important to practice anti-rumination strategies such as using distraction and positive self-talk to overcome the temptation to ruminate and dwell on the negative.

The reasons above may come to you as a surprise or just makes total sense. Even though anxiety is on the rise, it doesn't mean your anxiety needs to increase too. If you are experiencing anxiety symptoms, use the tips above to help manage it. Or, you can seek professional assistance to guide you through the process.

It's better to start early and learn healthy tools to cope with your anxiety disorder before the negative emotions become too overwhelming. 

RELATED: 8 Ways To Immediately Stop Anxiety From Sucking The Life Out Of You 

Allison Petro is a licensed mental health counselor at Life Counseling Solutions specializing in helping women recover and heal to become happier and healthier people. To learn more or schedule an appointment, visit Life Counseling Solutions or stay connected to receive advice and tips by signing up for the LCS newsletter.​

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This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.