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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How much anxiety is "normal" and how much is too much?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Carolien Koreneff

    Counsellor, Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE), Diabetes Educator, Psychotherapist, Registered Nurse

    Carolien Koreneff is a Somatic (body-oriented) psychotherapist, Health Coach, Counsellor as well as a Credentialed Diabetes Educator with over 20 years experience. She currently sees … View Profile

    We all experience anxiety from time to time, it is a normal part of life. Stress just is not something we can avoid. Your question is “how much anxiety is ”normal"? -  I think this is a very personal matter, as some of us are more exposed to stressors than others and some of us seem to cope better than others. In my opinion the it all depends on how we cope with the anxiety.  If Anxiety is running you, if it affects your functioning, then I think that is too much and you may like to seek help. I am a great believer in Mindfulness to help reduce the effects of stress and to reduce anxiety. Being mindful means being fully aware in the present moment without judgement, without dwelling in the past or projecting into the future. If you like to find out more feel free to contact me.

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    beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related disorders in Australia.beyondblue is a bipartisan initiative of … View Profile

    A good rule of thumb I think is that if you feel like anxiety is interfeering with you ability to function from day to day, or is impinging on your quality of life, then it's time to seek help. You can gain a lot of I sight, techniques and strategies to help you learn how you can take control.
    Best wishes,

  • Dr Louise Shepherd

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    I am a clinical psychologist with 15 years experience working with all sorts of goals and issues. I love working with people, helping them to … View Profile

    I like the short and sweet answer from Nicole from beyondblue.

    I just answered a very similar question - “How do I know if the anxiety I experience is considered normal?” - I'll repost some of what I said there: 

    Anxiety is a normal and healthy part of life. We all get anxious and in fact our bodies are designed to get anxious in some situations so that we can act to keep ourselves safe. So if you are about to cross a busy road without thinking and just as you are about to put your foot down you see out of the corner of your eye a car coming along quite fast your body will rapidly prepare you to get out of harm's way. This is called the “flight or fight” system and it can be lifesaving. In the days of sabre toothed tigers roaming around the caves of our ancestors you could quickly become dinner if you couldn't react very rapidly. 

    Jump forward to 2012 though and we don't live such dangerous lives! Sometimes we get nervous, worried, edgey, jumpy (call if what you like) because of what our mind tells us rather than a tiger or lion being on our case. For instance, “what if I fail the test?” or “What if she says no when i ask her out?” might be thoughts that can “scare” us if we take them very seriously. 

    Our mind is like our best friend and worst enemy and it can be very quick to find “problems” for us to worry about!!! It is almost like our mind gets bored with just staying in the present and focussing on right now….so it jumps around to the past and future and loves to look our for danger, often that isn't actually there at all! Does that make sense?

    As a clinical psychologist I'm a big fan of working on issues that get in the way of us living a big and wonderful life. I believe that whilst we can't choose all the cards we are dealt in life we can choose what we do with them. If you feel like worrying and getting anxious stops you from living and loving big time then it might be worth either reading a book that might help or seeing someone to get some ideas on how to deal with the anxiety more effectively. 

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