Anxiety and Worries





We all know what it feels like to be nervous or worried about something.  When we experience anxiety it can be a reaction to something stressful going on in our lives.  We might feel anxious or worried when we have a big deadline at school or work.  We might feel anxious about money.  We might feel anxious when the cute guy we’ve been cruising makes eye contact and starts walking towards us. 

Some anxiety and worry is healthy. Anxiety can help motivate us.  Anxiety can also help keep us alert in a potentially dangerous situation.  Also, when we are making a big decision in our lives it makes sense to expect anxiety, worry, and stress.  Those feelings can help us plan for something bad that might happen and have a plan in place in case it does.

Usually, these feelings of worry or anxiety are related to something we are aware of.  We can understand why we feel anxious and are able to manage it.  Many times it will disappear once the things that we found stressful are over. Anxiety could be an issue for us if we find that our feelings of worry or anxiety aren’t going away and are having an impact on our day to day lives and relationships.

Some signs of anxiety:

·      Feeling tired or exhausted from being “on edge” and constant worrying

·      Ongoing feelings that something bad is going to happen

·      Feel a constant worry about doing something embarrassing in front of other people

·      We might have an experience of fear or terror that seems to happen without a reason or cause

·      Difficulty concentrating or focusing

·      Feeling sad or depressed

·      Feeling restless or having troubles sleeping

·      Avoiding social situations


    Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is a form of anxiety that we may experience at one time or other.  Most of us have felt awkward or nervous in social situations. Sometimes, if we are meeting new people or a group of people we might feel nervous and shy. We might worry that we don’t know what to say or how to talk to new people. We may feel fear about speaking in public.  Social anxiety shows up when we fear that we might say or do something that will make people think less of us.  Some of this anxiety is normal and helps us to figure out how to be in social situations, be aware of what others might be thinking, and can help us keep other people’s needs or feelings in mind.

When our concern, worry, or anxiety that others are going to think badly about us gets to the point that we start to avoid social situations or fear them we may be experiencing a more serious form of social anxiety.  If we are experiencing social anxiety it can have an impact on how we connect to people and we may feel lonely or isolated.

In our sexual lives, social anxiety can also prevent us from meeting guys, talking about sex, or communicating with partners about the sex we want to have.  One study shows that up to 32% of gay men reported being less likely to use condoms when they didn’t want to offend their sexual partner or thought their sexual partner would react negatively. 

Some signs of social anxiety:

Thinking/Feeling

·       Constant worry about what others might think of us

·       Playing conversations over and over in our minds and beating ourselves up about what we “should” have said or done

·       Feeling tense and worried when you are being watched by others

·       Fear of saying or doing the wrong thing and embarrassing ourselves

·       Feeling that other people won’t like us

·       Avoiding being the centre of attention


Physical/Body

·       Feeling sick or have an upset stomach

·       Trembling or shaking hands

·       Heart rate speeds up

·       Sweating more than usual

·       Difficulty talking or speaking

·       Panic attacks


Behaviour/Things We Do

·       Avoiding the “spotlight” or being the centre of attention

·       Avoid other people and prefer to be alone

·       Avoid social situations, especially if we might have to interact with strangers

·       Drinking more to “take the edge off” before we socialize

·       Finding situations where we need to “perform” in public (public speaking, speeches) difficult

Feeling nervous or anxious about social situations and worrying that we might be judged by others is something most people experience.  If social anxiety is causing problems in our day to day lives, our relationships, our school or preventing us from doing the things we want to do, we may want to look for more support.  Underneath, our feelings of anxiety and worry might be telling us something that we need to listen to.

More info:

Anxiety
Centre for Addictions and Mental Health
http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/health_information/a_z_mental_health_and_addiction_information/anxiety_disorders/Pages/anxiety_disorders.aspx

Getting support:
Deciding You Want Support

Sexual Health:

Sex and Coping

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