Worrying is as contagious as a cold. Thankfully, your anxiety bug CAN be cured…
By Katie Mulloy
Pounding head? Feeling shaky? Fighting the urge to weep? No, it’s not a summer cold, it’s worse. You’ve got anxietyitis, AKA the worry bug. But did you bring this disorder on yourself, or did you catch it from a concerned co-worker or fretful friend?
Research has found that anxiety is contagious – we feed off other people’s stress by mimicking their angsty body language*. And women are more prone to it than men because we’re more tuned into our emotions. The good news? You can stave off stress symptoms and cure yourself, however you came down with it. Take our quiz to work out what kind of worrier you are, and get well soon.
1Your boss calls you into her office and goes mental at you. Back at your desk you…
A Demand that the intern stops faffing about and makes you a latte. Now!
B Draft your resignation letter, just in case, before sobbing silently in the loo.
C Email your mate about how horrible your boss is.
2 It’s been a hell of a day. Your ideal wind-down is…
A Talking it through with your man over dinner. Seeing him outraged on your behalf is some comfort.
B Wind-down? Pah! You’ll still be mulling it over at 4am.
C The girls, wine and a rant. Job done.
3 There’s an argument brewing with your man. You…
A Shout until you feel better.
B Stay quiet, but simmer with fury inside.
C Talk about it to as many different people as you can before you confront him.
4 Your Facebook status is most likely to read…
A “Rising unemployment, torrential rain and the pesky Olympics. Is there anything good about this country????!”
B “Woohoo! Bring on the double bank holiday!”
C “Why is everyone on my morning commute so rude? ”
5 A shop assistant says you need that dress in a bigger size. You…
A Call your mum, blaming her for your wide hips, then yell at the manager.
B Scurry back to your cubicle, mortified.
C Tell everyone you can’t eat again until you’re a size 6.
6 You’ve just spent an hour on the phone listening to your recently dumped friend. You feel…
A Angry at her idiot ex.
B A bit rubbish to be honest. You didn’t realise single life was that depressing.
C Pretty worried about her. In fact, you might just ring your other mate to chat it through.
7 You have an important presentation in the morning. You spend the night before…
A Emailing your colleagues making sure they’ve got all your notes.
B Practising in front of your old teddy.
C Making your partner listen to the whole thing while asking: “Do you think I’ve done enough?”.
Your diagnosis: Anxiety contagious
When you’re feeling the pressure, you need others to feel it too. You flip out at anyone in shouting distance, making sure you’ve passed on your anxiety germs to others. Stop now before you re-catch anxietyitis and start the process again.
Your concern cures
- Every day, say: “I’m feeling positive and am strong enough to tackle anything.” Preparing for stressful situations can prevent the outbursts that follow. You’ll be surprised how quickly talking to yourself works, and your friends will like it. “Sending out positive signals makes people respond more positively towards you,” says anxiety expert Charles Linden.
- Anxiety can be a habit – so break it. “Recognise what you’re feeling,” says anxiety hypnotist John Crawford. “Where do you feel it? Tummy? Chest? Imagine how you’d look and feel if you were calm. Take slow, deep breaths into the place you’re holding the stress. Imagine it dissolving into your breath as you inhale. Then exhale the stress in one single breath.” Repeat as many times as you need.
Your diagnosis: Anxiety absorbent
You pick up any worry that comes your way. Why? Because you’re so calm and in control, others offload their stress until you’re sick with uncertainty and they feel better.
Your concern cures
- Stand up to anxiety. “Instead of buying into someone’s emotions, take a minute to understand the situation and find a solution,” says anxiety expert Charles Linden. Don’t validate anxiety by joining in, but help them write a list of ways to get round the issue instead.
- Turn the tables and make others absorb your calm nature. Apply sunniness to all areas of your life – for every negative Facebook update you see, write three positive ones.
Your diagnosis: Anxiety middle-man
You share your problems, and you also take on other people’s worries. While you’re not at the extreme end
of the stress scale, be sure to deal with any worries early to prevent potential future anxiety.
Your concern cures
- “You make choices about what you let into your life and what you dismiss,” says anxiety expert Charles Linden. “So if you expose yourself to anxiety, you’re choosing to allow others to affect you.” If someone is a big source of stress, question your relationship with them. If you can’t ditch ’em, try Tai Chi or Qigong – a mash-up of meditation and martial arts. Research shows meditation and exercise help reduce anxiety***. Check your local leisure centre for classes.
- Indulge in some “you” time. Spas can be pricey, so invest in the Eye Massager, £28, from Karmamind.com. Wrap it around your head after a bad day, and let the acupressure machine massage your eyes and upper nose.