What Is Anxiety?
And how to deal with anxiety symptoms
Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. Common anxiety signs and symptoms include panic, increased heart rate, worrying, hyperventilation and sweating. Some common ways to deal with anxiety are to meditate, exercise, eat healthier, daily journaling and see a professional or therapist.
Here is 10 Anxiety Symptoms To Watch Out For With Tips To Ease Them
In this blog post I am going to show you 10 anxiety symptoms to watch out for.
Breaking down each of them on how they could be affecting you, and offering you daily actionable steps to help counter anxiety over time.
Plus 3 more bonus actionable steps that will help you ease the stress in your daily life.
Mental Health And Anxiety
Occasionally experiencing feelings of anxiety is a normal part of life. It’s your body’s way of responding to stressful events and telling you that you need to take a break. However, if the feeling continues and persists to a point where you are frequently restless and in a constant state of fear and worry, you may be suffering from an underlying anxiety disorder, this can also lead to depression. Usually, these feelings of anxiety are episodic in nature and can be highly intense and last up to several minutes. Which is what you call an anxiety attack.
There are several anxiety symptoms and signs to watch out for your mental health. Being aware of these symptoms can help you avoid the problem from escalating by seeking help and finding ways to overcome anxiety-driven behaviour. However, most anxiety symptoms can be hard to detect. Often enough, certain anxiety symptoms can go unnoticed for a long time and impact both your physical and mental health without you even realizing.
What are anxiety symptoms?
Anxiety symptoms are normal to experience in response to certain stressful events. But if they get to the point where they are no longer related to that event and interfere with your daily life, it’s essential to seek help. Recognizing the symptoms in this blog is a great first step.
What are five symptoms of anxiety?
Anxiety can impact everyone differently. Still, there are few common symptoms of anxiety you should look out for and try to manage if you experience them.
Here are five anxiety symptoms:
Feeling agitated and irritable
Trouble falling or staying asleep
What can anxiety do to your body?
Anxiety can have a severe impact on your physical health. Anxiety can cause headaches, muscle tension, digestive issues, restlessness, sweating, weakness, hyperventilation, heart palpitations, and even weight gain.
Here are five major systems in your body that anxiety impacts:
Central nervous system
What are the main causes of anxiety?
The causes of anxiety aren’t entirely known. Still, it’s understood that traumatic events can trigger anxiety. Inherited traits can be a factor, along with underlying medical issues like chronic pain, thyroid problems, and diabetes. There are also certain risk factors like personality type, drug or alcohol use, and stress buildup.
10 Anxiety Symptoms To Watch Out For With Tips To Ease It
Several research studies point to a direct correlation between sleep disturbances and mental health disorders. If you notice that you are waking up in the middle of the night for no reason and then having trouble falling back asleep, this may be a sign of anxiety.
A lot of scientific data suggests that those who suffer from insomnia in childhood have a 60% increased risk of developing some form of anxiety disorder as an adult. Although it is unclear whether or not sleep disturbances contribute to the development of anxiety or vis versa, the strong connection between the two has been confirmed by multiple research studies.
Moreover, treatment of these disorders has been found to improve sleep in patients considerably, which helps mental health.
Engage in physical activity like running or walking
You don’t have to exercise for a full hour every day to reap the anxiety-relieving and sleep-aiding benefits of exercise, especially if the thought of working that into your weekly schedule makes you even more anxious. Even short bursts of physical activity throughout the day will help regulate your sleep patterns.
Regular exercise works to improve sleep levels because it increases your body’s temperature by a few degrees. Then, come nighttime, your body’s drop in temperature triggers feelings of drowsiness that help you fall asleep.
In terms of their more immediate impact on anxiety, both walking and running can also help put you into a calmer state where you are better equipped to put things into perspective.
Worrying is probably one of the most common signs of an underlying anxiety disorder. However, it is also the most difficult to detect particularly because it is often overlooked as a normal response to everyday life situations.
With that said, however, for worrying to be considered as an anxiety symptom, it is necessary for the symptom to persist for at least 6 months. If you notice that you are worrying excessively and it is preventing you from accomplishing everyday tasks you may need to seek help.
Experience the discomfort
People who worry excessively worry as a coping strategy. They worry to avoid the discomfort of whatever is preemptively making them anxious. If you experience chronic worry, you likely feel that you cannot tolerate discomfort. That said, if you put yourself into a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable and practice doing things that you don’t want to do, you will come to find that you can tolerate the discomfort.
The idea behind putting yourself into situations and trying things that make you uncomfortable, whether it’s public speaking or attending a party, you will rely less on worrying as your coping strategy.
Even though restlessness is normal in most cases, it may be a sign of an underlying anxiety disorder if it continues to persist for longer durations of time. Restlessness is basically the state of being ‘on edge’ or feeling agitated. Most teenagers and young adults show restlessness and it is often diagnosed as anxiety symptoms, if the behavior continues for at least 6 months. Not being able to concentrate, sit still and feeling agitated can all be responses unaddressed feelings of anxiety.
Practice meditation regularly
Meditation will help you to become aware of your feelings, thoughts, and especially, in this case, frustrating bodily sensations. A regular meditation practice can help you manage restlessness by helping you regularly quiet your mind, ground yourself, and cultivate a sense of calm. If you stay consistent with your meditation, you can become less susceptible to restlessness.
Feeling Tired Or Fatigued
Feeling tired or unmotivated are also considered as strong signs of anxiety. Most people find this quite surprising, particularly because anxiety is associated with feelings that are quite the opposite and predominantly characterized by hyperactivity.
However, a substantial amount of research suggests that prolonged feelings of tiredness and fatigue are directly associated with an underlying anxiety disorder. Do note, however, these symptoms are also common in people who suffer from depression and only a medical professional should make the distinction.
Create a sleep-inducing bedroom
It’s important to release the idea that your feelings of tiredness or fatigue are only due to a lack of sleep. Still, getting better sleep will help address your fatigue and anxiety.
Here are a few ways to create a better environment for sleeping:
- Avoid excess light exposure by wearing an eye mask or using blackout curtains.
- Drown out unwanted sources of noise with a white noise machine or fan.
- Set your thermostat to the ideal temperature for you (somewhere around 67 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal)
- Use calming aromas in your bedroom at night. Dilute lavender essential oil with water in a misting bottle, spray it onto your pillow at nighttime, or put a few drops in an oil diffuser.
- Make your bed something you look forward to lying down in every night – make sure your mattress and sheets are comfortable!
- Keep the television out of your room and book nearby instead. Reading can help you channel your focus and lull you off to sleep
Irritability & Mood Swings
Irritability is another fairly common form with anxiety symptoms that can affect your mental health. In fact, this goes hand in hand with mood swings. Since anxiety is characterized by hyperactivity and high arousal, irritability is very easily noticeable.
You may also notice that you feel ‘on edge’ when you’re irritable, similar to what you would experience if you were restless. Moreover, if your anxiety is at its peak, or if you are experiencing a particularly difficult episode, you’d start notice that you get irritable very quickly.
Reframe your mindset
Irritability and mood swings are typically associated with negative thoughts. While it’s your underlying anxiety that causes this, there are still specific instances in which you can catch yourself making it worse before you become irritable and moody.
For instance, if you get stuck in traffic and begin to feel irritated, if you say something like “I wish I didn’t have such bad luck” or “I’m wasting so much precious time stuck here”, it will only cause you to feel worse. These thought patterns are not helping you in any way.
So, whenever you catch yourself dwelling on whatever is making you irritable or moody by thinking about how awful or unfair that thing is, try hard to reframe your negative thoughts. Remind yourself that you are not a victim and not the only one that gets caught up in traffic daily. Focus on the facts rather than how you feel about the facts.
Panic attacks are basically characterized as intense feelings of anxiety. It’s an episode in which your normal anxiety symptoms escalate to a very intense level where you may experience shortness of breath, extreme fear and the feeling of impending doom.
This is usually accompanied by a pounding heart and sweating. In more extreme cases, you may also experience nausea. This episode can last for several minutes. If you experience an episode where you have symptoms similar to a panic attack, you may need to seek professional help since this may point to an undiagnosed anxiety disorder.
Repeat a mantra to yourself
If you are prone to panic attacks or high levels of anxiety, have a mantra handy that you can repeat to yourself internally to help relax you as you work through it. Something along the lines of, “I will get through this” or “this too shall pass” can be a helpful phrase to repeat over and over in your head until your anxiety and symptoms subside. If you find a mantra that works for you, stick with it.
There’s no need to force one to work if it doesn’t resonate with you and make you feel better. It can be anything positive and helpful!
Experiencing Irrational Fears
Normally, these anxiety symptoms that are often overlooked because it’s common for people to have irrational fears, such as being afraid of spiders or closed spaces. However, if the irrational fear interrupts the normal everyday functions of your life and prevents you from accomplishing daily tasks, you may have an anxiety problem. Common irrational fears associated with anxiety include being afraid of using public transport, being afraid of crowds, open spaces, etc.
Visualize your happy place
Whenever you are in a situation that is causing you anxiety, bring to mind the most peaceful and beautiful place you can think of. Maybe it’s somewhere you have already been or a place you can create in your mind. Allow your imagination to pull your focus toward creating something pleasant in your mind.
Whether it’s you sitting at the top of a mountain or lying on a sunny beach with no one else around, pick out as many details as you can. Imagine yourself listening to the wind or waves. Smell the pine trees or the salty sea.
If you struggle with visualization techniques, then just try to focus all your attention on a single object. Pick something in clear sight, and just as you would with visualization, note as many details about that object as possible. Describe the shape, color, and size of it to yourself.
Another hard-to-detect mental health reaction in this group of anxiety symptoms, is an obsessive thought pattern. Obsessively thinking about the same things over and over again may point to an underlying anxiety problem. You may notice that your thoughts are becoming intrusive and preventing you from focusing on anything other than a specific issue that’s occupying your mind.
Understand many thoughts are out of your control
If you experience obsessive thinking frequently, it helps to remember that thoughts are nothing more than neurons firing in your brain. See them for what they are and accept them, rather than attempt to suppress, avoid, or escape.
Acceptance is not about giving up and allowing your thoughts to take over but rather allowing them to be so that you can just be. When obsessive thoughts come through your mind, ask yourself if you can do anything about it right now. If so, identify what you can do, and if not, practice acceptance.
Rapid Heart Rate
A rapid heartbeat coupled with sweating, heavy breathing and a dry mouth are all anxiety symptoms. In fact, a rapid heart rate is common during panic attacks where the body experiencing intense feelings of fear. The body’s natural fight or flight response is triggered as a result. More often than naught, this is closely associated with gastrointestinal problems as well.
Practice deep (belly) breathing
There are a few different breathing exercises that can help you manage your rapid heart rate.
Here are the steps for a deep breathing exercise, known as belly breathing, that you can do when your body and mind need to relax:
- Lie down flat or sit in a comfortable position
- Place one hand on your belly below your ribcage and the other on your chest.
- Take one slow, deep breath in through your nose, noticing as your belly (not your chest) pushes out your hand.
- Slowly breathe out while pursing your lips, almost as if you were whistling. Now notice the hand on your belly fall back down, pretending as if you are using your hand to push all the air out.
- Repeat this at least three times, or up to ten. Maintain a slow breathing pattern and take your time.
- At the end of this exercise, take a few moments to notice how you feel.
Anxiety symptoms can be seen in several gastrointestinal problems. These may include constipation, gas or in some cases diarrhea. As mentioned earlier, if you are experiencing anxiety, your body will automatically enter into a fight or flight mode whereby the blood supply would automatically be limited to the digestive track and directed to your heart and muscles in case you need to run.
However, in the case of anxiety, this can end up blocking your normal digestive process. Moreover, it is fairly common for people to experience nausea and digestive problems during a panic attack.
Focus on your diet
The connection between your gut and your brain means that once anxiety takes over your mind, it’s as if you were relinquishing control of your digestion too. No matter your specific digestive symptoms, whether diarrhea, indigestion, cramps, nausea, or constipation, one way to combat these and calm your upset GI symptoms is by sticking to a gut- friendly diet the best you can.
Be sure to eat plenty of veggies and foods rich in fiber daily. Consider adding more probiotics to your diet as well, whether through your food or in supplement form. Common foods that contain probiotics include yogurt and fermented foods such as sauerkraut. As far as beverages, try kombucha or kefir. Probiotics help you to maintain a diverse group of healthy bacteria in your gut to keep you in balance, both body and mind.
How Do You Know For Sure If It Is Anxiety?
A lot of the symptoms related to anxiety are overlooked or simply ignored because they are hard to distinguish from normal responses you would otherwise have in everyday life.
For example, in a stressful situation, it’s not uncommon to feel anxious or fearful. So, how can you know for sure whether you have anxiety or not? And whether or not you should seek out professional help? Because in most cases seeking out professional help is important in order to prevent your existing symptoms from escalating because they can eventually lead to the development of future health-problems.
If you feel anxious for longer durations of time or if your symptoms continue for over a 6-month duration, it is highly recommended that you seek professional help immediately. Moreover, even if the symptoms are fairly new and you feel like they are preventing you from functioning normally, it is probably best to get in touch with a professional who could offer help.
Remember that it anxiety is quite different from regular everyday life stress. While stress may linger for a while in the wake of a tight deadline or something that is bothering you, anxiety stays and doesn’t fade that easily. Anxiety is a sustained mental health issue that can ultimately cause significant social, physical and emotional problems.
Therefore, if you notice that your anxiety symptoms are ongoing for longer durations, be sure to get in touch with a health expert.
3 Ways To Ease Anxiety Symptoms When They Occur
Several research studies have pointed out the importance of exercising and maintaining a healthy diet in helping ease anxiety related symptoms. If you find or someone you know is experiencing anxiety symptoms, here are three ways you can use that may help:
There are countless benefits of regular exercise. It’s immensely important for your mental health. In fact, it has been found to reduce stress significantly. If you cannot follow a strict work-out regimen, start off by committing to 20 minutes of exercise alone. And if that still feels like too much of a burden, experts suggest that a even 10 minute brisk walk can do wonders for your mental health.
The point is to move your body daily because exercise reduces the stress hormone in your body, i.e. cortisol. Don’t be overwhelmed with the idea of having to commit to a proper exercise plan, simply start off by making an effort to move your body every day. With time, you can improve your routine by including different exercises that suit you well.
Maintaining A Healthy Diet
This goes hand in hand with regular exercise. Be sure to maintain a diet that includes lots of healthy vegetables, fruits and protein. Choose high-quality protein sources such as meat, fish, whole grains, nuts, etc. While diet alone is not sufficient in order to cure your anxiety symptoms, it can certainly add to your overall state of well-being and improve your body and mind’s ability to manage and respond to stress.
Journaling & Meditation
Journaling and meditation are two additional great ways of reducing stress and helping ease anxiety related symptoms. Keeping a diary or journal is a great way of gaining control of your emotions and feelings. By writing down your thoughts and feelings in your journal, you can gain a better understanding of yourself and your trigger factors.
Similarly, meditation is another great tool you can use to ease anxiety symptoms. By creating a space between yourself and whatever it is that you are experiencing, you can make it easier for your brain to process complex emotions and feelings and help soften the stress.
I Would Love To Hear From You
Having anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of, WHO says that over 300,000,000 people worldwide are affected by this mental health struggle.
What anxiety symptoms do you see happening in yourself?
Comment below if you use one of the three ways to ease anxiety, to inspire others to try them as well.