People with symptoms of anxiety show fundamental differences in perception.People with anxiety show fundamental differences in perception. #FactsClick To Tweet
I’ve come to realize anxiety doesn’t always announce its presence. Anxiety symptoms might not even be obvious to you. It can be the most diabolical roommate. The kind you truly can’t stand but aren’t sure how to get them out of your space.
Anxiety and your behavior are intrinsically linked. On the surface, you might be doing all the things you’re “supposed” to be doing but subconsciously, your mind is freaking out.
Personally, my brain likes to pretend I’m not stressed for long periods of time. I refuse to deal with it (or the cause) until my body gets the signal to shut everything down.
Sleeping too much, either no appetite or only craving snack foods, and having zero focus are a few of the signals that tell me I’ve pushed myself too far.
How do you know if you’re anxious or stressed? Acute stress caused by traffic or a visiting relative you don’t like or long lines at the grocery store isn’t the same.
Chronic stress or unrelenting anxiety are more subversive. They wear you down a little at a time because your immune system never gets a break from “fight or flight” hormones – adrenaline and cortisol. They’re the ones you need to worry about.
Signs and symptoms of anxiety might be different for you than someone else. Various mental health quizzes have differing criteria to determine anxiety severity but after taking half a dozen of them myself, I learned some crucial information.
Anxiety Symptoms 101
Frustration, impatience, and irritability spike quickly. You’re driving and someone cuts you off in traffic. You immediately start screaming and insulting them despite the fact that no accident resulted and you have no idea what’s happening in the other driver’s mind.
Maybe they’re a jerk who always drives like that or maybe they’re a parent rushing to pick up their injured kid and not paying attention. Is the first example more likely? Yes…but you can’t be sure.
No one likes to be inconvenienced or have to deal with people who don’t drive, walk, or handle grocery shopping the way we do. However, with more than 7 billion people on the planet, learning how to deal with such scenarios (and keeping your cool) will benefit you as well as them.
A question I always ask myself is, “Why am I in such a hurry?” Impatience is a negative emotion that doesn’t do a single positive thing for you. Leave a bit earlier for destinations, build in a cushion to breathe once you arrive, and slow down.
You’re ignoring recurring physical symptoms of anxiety. Everyone gets nervous. Everyone has a bad day. It’s just part of getting up and getting through your life. If you deal with any of the symptoms below weekly (or even daily), it could be a sign that your body is struggling to deal with stress and anxiety.
- Changes to sleep habits
- Mouth dryness
- Sweating even when you’re not moving around
- Trembling in your limbs
- Weight gain
- Fatigue (no matter how much sleep you get)
- Racing heart
- Changes to appetite
- Getting sick more often
- Upset stomach
- Smoking or drinking more to cope
When anxiety starts to send you physical signs consistently, you should pause and figure out what’s causing it. Are your physical symptoms worse at home, at work, with family, or out in public? Are they worse at specific times? Are you withdrawing from people or situations because they cause you to feel anxious?
Anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental health issues left unchecked take a toll on your body. Your immune system responds with inflammation to beat what it perceives as a threat. If the “threat” is never vanquished (because you don’t know what it is or try to ignore it), the immune response stays in the “on” position.
Ongoing physical symptoms of anxiety increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, premature death, and so much more.
I highly recommend journaling to determine when anxiety affects you most. It doesn’t mean carrying a notebook around with you. These days, you can do it on your phone – in memos – so you always have it with you. Note the date and time, where you are, what you’re feeling, and what may have triggered your anxiety. You can email these notes to yourself. Having a record can be incredibly eye-opening to solving the core reasons behind your stress and anxiety.
You can’t explain how you feel emotionally and mentally. When your emotions are all over the place, it can be difficult to explain to someone else. The stigma behind mental illness is a big reason that many don’t seek therapy. Another huge reason is that you don’t want to be viewed as a person who’s melodramatic.You can’t explain how you feel emotionally and mentally when you're anxious. #AnxietySUCKSClick To Tweet
How can you explain that you feel afraid, panicked, trapped, or vulnerable? It isn’t easy to describe life-or-death reactions outside of life-or-death scenarios.
So many spend their days on edge. Easily irritated, overreacting at random interruptions, always nervous for inexplicable reasons, and seeming frazzled overall. Others might remark that you act burnt out or seem to have lost your sense of humor.
Through it all, you’re overwhelmed but don’t know what to do to fix it.
You don’t have to live like that. It’s bad for every aspect of your life inside and out. It’s bad for the people around you. It will slowly make you sick.You’re overwhelmed but don’t know what to do to fix it. You don’t have to live like that. #HelpYourselfClick To Tweet
7 Tips to Easing the Causes and Symptoms of Anxiety
1. Take one week to evaluate your current situation. Look at everything around you and determine how it makes you feel. Your home life, professional life, relationships, and physical health. Pay close attention to what makes you feel anxious and make detailed notes. Don’t ignore anything or anyone simply because you think you should.
2. Divide your anxiety sources into smaller pieces. Just like any problem, dealing with emotional upset can be better addressed in manageable chunks. For example, weight gain anxiety can be addressed by exercising 10 minutes each day to get you started. Commuting stress might be lessened by leaving half an hour earlier than usual so you have time to breathe before getting to work. Relationship stress (friends, family, co-workers) might benefit from an informal chat initially to test the waters.
3. Determine your monthly top three. Give yourself three small goals to incorporate each month. Perhaps including meditation in your morning routine, lessening your commute stress, or trying to get a full eight hours of sleep are on your list. It takes the human mind approximately 21 days to form a habit so give yourself a month. Three small things – starting this month – that you’re going to do to improve your life.
4. Incorporate down time in your crazy life. This seems to get harder and harder for people to do (myself included). Down time is critical to allowing your mind to rest and recuperate from all the input it deals with every waking hour. Whether it’s enjoying a consistent day off every week where you do nothing or a set afternoon period where you do something just for you…it can literally change how you view the world around you. It’s okay to demand a break.
5. Remember that you matter. Caught up in the responsibilities or demands of other people in your life, you can start to forget what you It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A long shower without interruptions, reading a book, getting a manicure, or treating yourself to lunch at your favorite café once in a while…you deserve to do what makes you happy. It’s amazing how little things you do for yourself can change how you feel for hours, days, even weeks. Treating yourself doesn’t have to be expensive or outrageous – but it does need to be a priority.
6. Take your health seriously right now. No matter what else is happening, you must address physical symptoms of anxiety. Talk to your doctor, take walks, drink more water, eat more veggies, get more sleep, and heal your physical health right alongside your mental health.
7. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s okay to mess up. It’s okay to be afraid or upset or confused. It’s alright to need patience, empathy, or a helping hand. You don’t have to be perfect and the sooner you realize perfection is a goal none of us will ever reach, the happier and calmer you’re going to feel. You’re doing great…and you’re going to do better.
Anxiety doesn’t usually show up overnight. It can grow like a weed for long periods of time before you notice how it’s affecting your daily life. We’re all so busy and our individual needs (especially women) take a backseat to the needs of everyone around us.
Temporary stress, anxiety, or feeling overwhelmed helps you focus and get things done. If it goes on and on, you start struggling and your body starts hurting.
One day at a time, one task at a time, you can fight anxiety…and win.One day at a time, one task at a time, you can fight anxiety…and win.Click To Tweet
Shayne McClendon is an author and positivity practitioner. Shayne believes love crosses all boundaries, social castes, races, genders, and belief systems. If you are lucky enough to find soul-deep love, you should fight for it. Life-certified, reader approved.