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It wasn’t a new phenomenon that anxiety levels amongst people of all ages were rising - and then the past two years, which were fraught with the COVID-19 epidemic, increased political upheaval, and more sealed the deal. Anxiety is at an all-time high for people young and old. Adults, though, can sometimes experience unique challenges when they feel prolonged or clinical anxiety. Stigmas, stereotypes, lack of awareness or recognition, and inadequate support structures (especially for those who live alone or don’t have healthcare access) can make anxiety a particularly difficult adversity for some. It’s important for every adult to have a working understanding of anxiety, its causes and effects, and strategies for coping with it.

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Anxiety as a Form of Mental Strain

Though nearly everyone experiences stress and anxiety at points in their life, experiencing anxiety in high severity or for prolonged periods may indicate an anxiety disorder of some kind. Anxiety disorders fit within the family of mental illnesses along with conditions like clinical depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

A number of anxiety disorder subtypes exist that range from separation to social anxiety disorders. Most of these are clinically diagnosed and can often be treated with medication, psychotherapy, or both. Anxiety disorders can be very serious. Left untreated, they often begin to interfere with living life normally and, in moderate to severe cases, require interventions or treatment in order to make daily life manageable for people who suffer from them.

To determine whether you might be at risk of having or developing an anxiety disorder, it’s important to understand the common symptoms that accompany this type of condition. If you experience increased or enduring bouts of any of these symptoms, consult a doctor or medical professional about the possibility of an anxiety disorder: increased heart rate, rapid breathing, restlessness, difficulty falling asleep, or trouble concentrating.

Anxiety attacks are also a sign of anxiety disorders. An anxiety attack would be experienced in a scenario or setting when you were likely already feeling anxious or thinking about something that was making you afraid. These attacks can involve experiencing faintness or dizziness, shortness of breath, sweating, dry mouth, chills or hot flashes, extreme worry, restlessness, distress or fear, or numbness or tingling.

Any of these experiences are enough to raise with your primary care provider to determine whether you might suffer from an anxiety disorder of some kind.

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The Ramifications of Leaving Mental Illnesses Unaddressed

Just like physical ailments or cancers, mental illnesses can be very serious. They require treatment and attention to lessen or mitigate. When left unchecked, mental health difficulties can escalate and have increasingly negative effects on the quality of your life. A strong correlation exists between experiencing mental illnesses and people who are homeless, experiencing or have experienced drug addictions, or who have served jail time. Without management and treatment, mental illnesses can become debilitating and even life-threatening.

Tools to Combat Anxiety and other Mental Stresses

A number of “tools” or strategies exist that can help you boost your mental health and fortitude. These strategies can be employed any time and can almost always provide benefits that can strengthen your mental health. If you are experiencing prolonged symptoms of anxiety or are worried about the possibility of having an anxiety disorder, there are several steps available to you that you can employ to lessen the effects of anxiety on your life and wellbeing. Whether you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or have simply felt increased effects of stress and anxiousness in your life, take some time to incorporate some of these tools into your regular routine.

One way of incorporating mental health strategies in your regular routine is by incorporating simple actions that can be accomplished alone (or done with other people as well) and that provide a sense of accomplishment, bring calm, and/or allow you to engage in physical movement or artistic creativity. These elements can all aid your mental health. Ideas include bike riding, walks (especially in nature), breathing or mindfulness routines, drawing or painting, accomplishing a rote task like washing dishes or putting away laundry, allowing time for a quiet break, reading, and more. These can all serve as effective ways of improving your mental state and contributing to stronger mental health.

three men and one woman laughing during daytime Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Similarly, activities that are communal or group-oriented in nature, involve fun and play, or incorporate things you naturally enjoy make up another family of mental health-boosting activities that can also contribute significantly to your mental state. These can include walking with a friend, attending a weekly event or support group, taking classes, volunteering, playing a recreational team sport, and more.

By being aware of the signs of anxiety disorders and proactively engaged in activities that will boost your mental health, you can mitigate your risks of having your life adversely impacted by anxiety.

About the Author

Sarah Daren has been a consultant for startups in multiple industries including health and wellness, wearable technology, nursing, and education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life, including her position as a yoga instructor and raising her two children.

How to talk about transgender issues

So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:

  1. It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
  2. There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
  3. Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.

Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.

sign with a 'friendly for all genders' image showing a person in a wheelchair, and a person with half a dress and pants on.

Transgender bathroom bills

commons.wikimedia.org

So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.

Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.

So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.

Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.

By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.

gif of a man in a suit talking about number 1. Number 1 GIF by PragerU Giphy

The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.

Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.

This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.

Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues

  1. Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
  2. There is a rich history behind transgender issues
  3. Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
    • 3(b). The facts
    • 3(c).The confidence
    • 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights

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