ANXIETY- When should you be worried?

Using an example of the cost of living, and the recent hike in mortgage rates to help explain this normal response and knowing when to get help. It might just help you or your team…

We have all had feelings of anxiety, for example if we are faced with an exam, public speaking, a new job, leaving a job, or something in the current climate such as with the cost of living and financial worries etc.  Our bodies are clever at initiating a protective and emergency psychological and physical response to react to what we may believe or perceive as a ‘threat’, this is similar to the stress response (but is not the same).

The response we like to use for our teaching at XCMH is the ‘shaky person’, where we may see those responses, such as sweating, increased heart rate, increased breathing, butterfly’s in our stomach, going to the toilet often (particularly before), sweaty palms, confusion, headaches etc. It is also known as the Fight, Flight, Freeze (F,F,F) response, initiating a whole chain of protective responses. You may also see behavioural traits such as bouts of anger, constant worry etc. A useful analogy we also like to use to explain the difference between stress and anxiety is that of a car alarm, let us explain…

ANXIETY- When should you be worried?

Take a new car for example, which is left in a 🅿️ car park, a thief (a threat) goes over to break into the car and after smashing the window, it initiates the car alarm (the shaky person), this would be STRESS, where you have an actual threat. Whereas ANXIETY is that the alarm goes off, but there was no threat, it was a false alarm, someone just walked by, or nothing was there but it felt as though something was. This is a similar response, but as you can see different.

Often, we recover from those bouts of anxiety, we know what the reason is, and it goes by, once it is resolved, or we have completed something e.g. that exam, talk, event etc. But sometimes it is much more than a period of anxiety, lasting much longer, initiating bigger reactions such as panic attacks. We should be aware of any disorders, and if it lasts for long period of time, affecting your day to day lives, then we should be getting that professional help. 

This could lead to anxiety disorders, some of which you would have heard of. There are many, for example, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which is a mental health condition that’s triggered by witnessing what someone may perceive as a traumatic event sometime after (post 4 weeks), either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.  Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is excessive, ongoing anxiety and worry that are difficult to control and interfere with day-to-day activities. Acute Stress Disorder (ASD), is a psychological response to a terrifying, traumatic or surprising experience similar to PTSD, but starts a few days after the event and up to a month after (whereas PTSD is much longer).  Another common anxiety disorder is having a phobia, which is a fear of something in which as we know there can be many common ones such as arachnophobia, a fear of spiders, ophidiophobia, a fear of snakes, but what about nomophobia? This is a fear of being without a phone, worthy of another article…

As an example, let’s focus on a very real and current example which can initiate anxiety and is affecting millions of households up and down the country with the effect of the cost of living, where currently 22% of the population are in poverty, according to think tank resolution foundation (2023). The gap between those who are poorer and those who are richer is growing, but that’s for another discussion… But let’s delve deeper into the current hike in mortgage rates.

According to the latest statistics by MIND ‘indicates that roughly 29% of respondents (from a survey of only 3015 participants from England and Wales) were affected by the experience or knowledge of mounting mortgage expenses in the past year, with 10% noting a substantial impact on their mental well-being’ (Sky News, 05th Aug 2023).

It is without doubt creating this feeling of anxiety and huge worry.  For people and families having an inability to cope. Now if we can build on that ability to cope, this will help to reduce that danger and feeling of anxiety. But how can we do that?

At XCMH we like to use this model to explain Anxiety:

ANXIETY= A feeling of danger (e.g. money worries)            

An inability to cope

So, we can help ourselves by building on our ability to cope, for example with financial worries seeking professional financial advice, speaking to your mortgage provider, your bank, credible sources of media info (e.g. Martin We can manage our finances, prioritising our needs, calculating our incomings and outgoings giving you that all important amount you need to survive on. You can get further advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau. You could look for other alternative sources of income such as selling items on Vinted, eBay and other platforms. You could look at working part time in another job? All of these I know can be difficult to do, but you are working on your ability to cope and it may just help you reduce that problem and those effects of anxiety.

An option of doing nothing should not be an option, particularly if it is reaching crisis point, affecting your mental health, creating anxiety and worry e.g you cannot sleep, concentrate on things, outbursts of anger. You need to be proactive to help yourself and prevention is part of the cure here. But if it is at a crisis point, then you must do something about it, and seek that professional help and support, before it escalates and potentially gets worse…

We should all be aware that if money worries are affecting your mental health and day to day life, then we should be seeking professional help and support, where your first port of call should be your GP. There are also useful charities to support people and provide with information if suffering with anxiety, such as Anxiety.Uk (National charity helping people with Anxiety – Anxiety UK)

So, if YOU or your TEAM are displaying signs of anxiety, knowing if it is normal or not, and knowing what to do is key to help yourself or your team.

We do hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article, as it may just raise awareness to help YOU, your TEAM or ORGANISATION.  If you want help as an organisation with any Mental Health training or consultancy then please get in touch with us at: