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Mild Anxiety: What it is and How to Treat It

Micah Abraham, BSc

Written by

Micah Abraham, BSc

Last updated October 10th, 2020

Mild Anxiety: What it is and How to Treat It

There are varying levels of anxiety, both subjectively and biologically. Some people deal with severe, debilitating anxiety that needs immediate medical intervention. Some people deal with moderate anxiety that drastically impacts their life but they're still able to live through every day. Others experience mild anxiety, which is something they can manage fairly easily but still makes their life more stressful.

Almost no one dealing with constant anxiety would describe their anxiety as "mild." Most people dealing with subjectively mild anxiety are unlikely to think they have anxiety at all. But what is mild anxiety anyway, and are there easier ways to overcome it?

A "Mild" Anxiety Disorder

It's easy for someone else to look at your anxiety and tell you it's "mild" compared to theirs.

But no matter what the results say, suffering from anxiety is always hard. No matter how mild or severe your anxiety is, it's always a struggle - otherwise, you wouldn't realize you had anxiety.

It is important to remember that if anxiety is hurting your quality of life, it deserves to be treated. Don't pay attention to labels like "mild" or "severe." If you suffer from anxiety and it bothers you, get help.

How to Describe Mild Anxiety

Mild anxiety is anxiety that is manageable without any additional techniques. By "manageable," we're not saying that it goes away easily. We're saying that you can still get through your day without panicking, you can enjoy a social life, and you can even find hobbies and activities fun. You may even think positively about the future.

Mild anxiety tends to be when you have irritating symptoms that don't seem to go away, but that otherwise doesn't control you. For example:

  • You have constant worries but you can generally ignore them.
  • You may feel nervous, nauseated, shaky, or sweat, but you aren't debilitated by these symptoms.
  • You don't have panic attacks or become overwhelmed by your anxiety to the point where you start to fear the anxiety itself.

Mild anxiety is not unlike moderate anxiety, except that it tends to never or rarely reach that point of becoming truly overwhelming. It's more of a hassle that you simply cannot seem to control, and one that occasionally has spurts of severity that remind you that it's something you need to deal with.

Many anxiety disorders can be mild as well. Panic attacks are rarely mild, but mild obsessive-compulsive disorder exists, as does mild generalized anxiety disorder and mild phobias. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a bit trickier, and mild social anxiety is actually fairly common and rarely considered a significant disorder.

All Anxiety Deserves to Be Treated

If your anxiety falls into the category of "mild," that doesn't mean that it's something you should ignore. Most anxiety starts out as mild before escalating as you get older, especially if you don't treat it. Also, anxiety is such a treatable condition that those that allow themselves to suffer from mild anxiety simply because it's not severe enough are needlessly hurting their quality of life.

Anxiety should always be treated. Mild anxiety should always be treated. Even anxiety that doesn't qualify as an anxiety disorder deserves attention. Anxiety is a negative emotion. If you were always sad or angry you would seek help, so there is no reason not to seek the same amount of help if you live with mild anxiety.

How to Fight Mild Anxiety

The only advantage to having mild anxiety over more severe anxiety is that those with mild anxiety are less likely to fear the symptoms of their anxiety in the way that those with severe anxiety do. That helps because severe anxiety attacks can set you back for your treatment in a way that those with mild anxiety shouldn't experience.

You may be able to control mild anxiety with simple lifestyle changes. Strongly consider the following:

  • Exercise Regularly Even if you do nothing else, make sure that you are regularly exercising. Exercise is a powerful and important mental health tool. Exercise releases endorphins which calm your entire body. It uses up adrenaline that is released when you are anxious and potentially burns away stress hormones. It tires out muscles to reduce your anxiety symptoms, and it reduces general physical stress, which studies have shown can decrease mental stress as well. Exercise is the most important thing you can do for your mild anxiety.
  • Sleep, Diet, etc. While not quite as beneficial as exercise, general healthy living is also important. Remember that real science has proven that a stressed body can actually create worries and negative thoughts. Your mind and body are linked in a very real way. Getting enough sleep and eating healthier drastically reduce physical and mental stress, and can make coping with anxiety much easier.
  • Learn Relaxation Strategies Counseling can still be very beneficial for those with mild anxiety. But for those that are hoping to avoid therapy, basic relaxation strategies may be enough. Try deep breathing, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation to start. Make sure you commit to them for at minimum two months. Contrary to popular belief, relaxation exercises do not work right away. They only work when you become used to doing them without overthinking the behaviors.

These are extremely basic strategies for coping with mild anxiety, but they're generally effective ones and may be enough for those whose anxiety is otherwise manageable. Don't be afraid to also seek help if you need it.

Questions? Comments?

Do you have a specific question that this article didn’t answered? Send us a message and we’ll answer it for you!

Ask Doctor a Question

Question:

Where can I go to learn more about Jacobson’s relaxation technique and other similar methods?

– Anonymous patient

Answer:

You can ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional who uses relaxation techniques to help patients. Not all psychologists or other mental health professionals are knowledgeable about these techniques, though. Therapists often add their own “twist” to the technqiues. Training varies by the type of technique that they use. Some people also buy CDs and DVDs on progressive muscle relaxation and allow the audio to guide them through the process.

Ask Doctor a Question

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