Managing Anxiety

Anxiety is a feeling of dread, fear, or distress over a real or imagined threat to our mental or physical well being.  Symptoms can be both physical and psychological, and may include shortness of breath, racing or pounding heart, trembling, sweating, or feeling faint.

A certain amount of anxiety is normal and moves us to action.  We are motivated to prepare for an upcoming event or to move out of danger to a safer location.  Anxiety is not normal when it has no apparent cause or when it begins to interfere with our normal daily activities.

An excessive level of anxiety can be caused by certain medical conditions.  For example, an overactive thyroid, hormonal imbalances, or low blood sugar may cause us to feel anxious.   Some prescription and over-the-counter medications may have the same effect.

High levels of anxiety may also be a symptom of a number of illnesses known as “anxiety disorders”.  These include phobias, panic attacks, obsessive/compulsive behavior, and post-traumatic stress disorder.  Anxiety disorders are not character flaws or the result of personal weakness.

If you are suffering from excessive or unexplained anxiety, or if anxiety is interfering with your normal routine, consider these suggestions:

  • Seek professional help. Check with your doctor to rule out medical conditions or medications that might be causing your anxiety.
  • If your anxiety does not have a medical cause, you may want to talk with a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Eat right.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Create quiet time for yourself.
  • Limit or avoid caffeine, especially late in the day.
  • Avoid nicotine and alcohol.
  • Talk to someone you trust about your fears and anxieties.
  • If possible, reduce your exposure to things that cause you distress.
  • Schedule your time so you do not feel overwhelmed physically or mentally by all the things you need to accomplish.
  • Mentally rehearse for upcoming events that may cause anxiety. Imagine yourself feeling calm and in control.
  • Learn and practice some form of daily relaxation technique. Examples include meditation, yoga, biofeedback or deep breathing exercises.

Excessive anxiety can have a negative impact on the quality of our personal and professional lives.  There is no need to suffer silently; help is available.

If you would like further information on anxiety, or to speak with an EAP counselor, please contact your confidential Employee Assistance Program at 303-982-0377 or visit our website at  Your EAP offers no-cost assistance to all Jeffco Public Schools employees, their family members over age 15, and retirees.  “Confidential help from caring professionals…”