What is Anxiety?

How exercising thoughts and practicing relaxation can improve mental wellbeing


Most of us will experience symptoms of anxiety during our lifetime. Classified as a common mental disorder, anxiety affects about 90% of the population at some point in life. According to a recent Mental Health Research Canada poll, majority of Canadians experienced increased levels of anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic, with half of the individuals reporting moderate to severe anxiety levels. This is significant because it means we are failing to prevent common mental disorders on a very large scale.

For prevention and early intervention, it is important to understand what causes anxiety, and how symptoms can be reversed. According to the Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD-7) Questionnaire, the key symptoms of anxiety include:

· Feeling nervous, anxious or on edge

· Not being able to stop or control worrying

· Worrying too much about different things

· Having trouble relaxing, feeling restless

· Becoming easily annoyed or irritable

· Feeling afraid as if something awful might happen

Each of the symptoms can be experienced at different levels, from rarely to nearly every day. If a person experiences most of the above symptoms consistently for a period of 14 days, they are likely at the clinical level of anxiety. While the GAD-7 Questionnaire is often used in mental health research, few people understand anxiety symptoms or are educated by their health practitioners about it. As a result, many suffer for long periods of time before seeking help and experience worsening symptoms.

We can identify two main themes in the symptoms of anxiety. The first is the inability to stop worrying thoughts, and the seconds is the inability to relax. Understanding how to address these two key aspects of anxiety can help us gain control of our mental wellbeing and build resilience.

Exercising Worrying Thoughts

When we are in the midst of anxiety, it is nearly impossible to control worrying thoughts. We get overwhelmed with worst-case scenarios, as our mind expands worry from one thing to another. As we try…



Milena Braticevic, PhD Integral Health

Milena’s work explores prevention-oriented methodologies for mental health, sustainability and wellbeing. www.nondualperspectives.com