Physical Anxiety Symptom : Sleep Issues
A build up of stress and tension can make it harder to sleep as can continuous worry and being unable to switch off. The best thing to do here is try a mindfulness or meditation technique to help your mind and body drift into sleep.
On the other hand, a panic attack and prolonged periods of anxiety can leave you feeling both physically and emotionally exhausted. You should listen to your body and rest, in this case.
Stomach And Intestines: Fear
When were afraid, tension can occur in the stomach muscles and the intestines. Its no coincidence that certain experiences make us feel sick to our stomach. The more one denies or represses ones fears, the stronger the tension and physical reactions become.
To relieve psychosomatic tension in the stomach, try identifying your fears and what is causing them, and talk about them with someone who is a good listener and whom you trust. Psychotherapist Sean Grover explains, The more you can express the fear in words, the less of a hold it will have on your body. This technique of speaking out loud about the fear and giving names to the feelings that come up is a tremendously effective method in healing childhood traumas as well.
When To Seek Professional Help
While self-help coping strategies can be very effective, if your worries, fears, or anxiety attacks have become so great that theyre causing extreme distress or disrupting your daily routine, its important to seek professional help.
If youre experiencing a lot of physical symptoms, you should start by getting a medical checkup. Your doctor can check to make sure that your anxiety isnt caused by a medical condition, such as a thyroid problem, hypoglycemia, or asthma. Since certain drugs and supplements can cause anxiety, your doctor will also want to know about any prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, and recreational drugs youre taking.
If your physician rules out a medical cause, the next step is to consult with a therapist who has experience treating anxiety disorders. The therapist will work with you to determine the cause and type of your disorder and devise a course of treatment.
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When Do These Physical Symptoms Signal A Panic Attack
Some of the physical symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks overlap, like sweating, trembling, and a fast heart rate. But theres one major difference: Panic attacks cause an extreme sensation of fear that strikes out of nowhere. That terror is an integral part of having a panic attack. Beyond that, panic attacks include at least four of the following symptoms, some of which you just read about as physical effects of anxiety:
Palpitations, a pounding heart, or an accelerated heart rate
Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
Feelings of choking
Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
Chills or heat sensations
Derealization or depersonalization
Fear of losing control or going crazy
Fear of dying
Neck And Shoulders: Anxiety Burdens And Pressure
Shouldering too many responsibilities can be a pain in the neck, literally. According to the Calm Clinic, neck pain is one of the most common complaints of people suffering from anxiety-related disorders. If you suffer from neck and shoulder pain or tension that has no apparent cause, its possible that youre feeling overburdened and anxious. You may have a habit of not asking for help from others and of trying to do everything yourself.
Many kinesiologists believe that the health of the shoulders can suffer when someone is under too much pressure in life. This results in a large amount of physical tension in the shoulder muscles. To relieve this pain, take some time to write down what is really worth taking on and what is a good idea to get help from others with. Dont be afraid to ask for help or support, especially when feeling overwhelmed, as were only human and everybody needs some help sometimes.
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Prevention And Coping With Anxiety
All human beings experience anxiety. In many cases, anxiety can have some beneficial and adaptive qualities such as pushing one to study for an upcoming difficult exam or propelling a person to flee from danger. Although experiencing some anxiety with life stressors and worries is normal, sometimes it can be difficult to manage and can feel overwhelming. Below we provide a list of tips and strategies to help individuals prevent anxiety from reaching a diagnosable level. Even though not everyone will struggle with a diagnosable anxiety disorder, learning strategies to aid in relief from anxiety and to manage the “normal” anxiety experienced in everyday life can help you live the life you desire.
Learning Relaxation Strategies
Mindfulness, Meditation, and Yoga
Exercise, Healthy Diet, and Rest
Awareness and Identifying Triggers
- It could be helpful to have a journal that you use to track your stressors, mood, thoughts, and behaviors that are impacted by anxiety. This will further help you identify the cause of your anxiety and notice when you may be engaging in unhelpful thoughts that only increase your anxiety.
Supportive Friendships & Family/ Contact a Therapist
The Three Parts Of Anxiety
When we feel anxious, we automatically generate a three-part response that includes thoughts physical symptoms and behaviours . All three parts have an interactive and reciprocal relationship. This simply means that each part interacts and influences the other parts. None will occur in isolation. For example, if youre anxious about giving a presentation at work you would likely have some worrisome thoughts , experience some physical sensations , and take some sort of action . If your rehearsal isnt going well you may start having more worrisome thoughts that might lead to more physical sensations which might lead to a new action .
The following diagram exemplifies this process:
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Anxiety Symptoms List: Learn More About Anxiety
The best way to stop anxiety is to understand it. The more you understand what causes your symptoms, what they mean, why you struggle with them, and what you can do to stop them, the more youll be able to start making real progress on your own anxiety symptoms.
We have broken each symptom down into categories for easy navigation. You can click on any of the links below to be taken to the section of your choice immediately, or you can scroll down to start reading more about the symptoms as a whole.
Note: Some people experience anxiety symptoms that are 100% mental with no physical symptoms. Others experience anxiety symptoms that are 100% physical: they are anxious physically even though they have no worries and their minds are clear. Most people experience some combination of the two. There is no right or wrong way to experience anxiety.
Keep in mind that categorizing some anxiety symptoms is difficult. For example, you may feel that what we consider to be a whole-body symptom is more of a chest symptom, and vice versa. So if you dont find a symptom you struggle with in the section you expect, it may be in another section.
What If I Cant Find My Emotions
Sometimes they are so subtle that it takes time to form the vocabulary to describe them, says Tanmaya George, a certified somatic experiencing practitioner. To physically feel out an emotion and name it, youll need to slow down. For this, she recommends a mindful body scan.
Feelings, or fear, can be frozen so that we experience numbness instead of sensations, she says. That is linked to shock, and as we start to heal, the shock melts and the underlying sensations do come to the surface.
Tuning in with your body and paying attention to where you feel heightened sensations is the best way to locate a feeling. George urges her clients to focus on grounding their bodies. If you find yourself falling into a black hole of despair, use her directions to get back on track:
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Identifying And Easing Anxiety
It’s possible to become so fixated on the physical effects from your anxious state that you don’t even realize you were anxious to begin with, says Dr. Barsky. So, how do you know if anxiety is causing your symptoms? And if it is, how can you feel better? Dr. Barsky offers some tips to help you interrupt this cycle.
Stop and assess. “The first step is to pause for a second and observe what’s going on with your body,” says Dr. Barsky. Think about what you are experiencing and whether it relates to a feeling of emotional upset or a reaction to something alarming or stressful. If your symptoms followed a stressful event or period of time, it’s possible these emotions triggered your symptoms. Also, be alert to signs that you are tensing your muscles, which can also indicate a stress reaction.
Relax your body or work it. To relieve stress, try some deep breathing or relaxation exercises. There are numerous online resources and smartphone apps that can help guide you through relaxation techniques. Physical activity can also help you relieve tension. Try to squeeze in a daily walk or a run.
Reassure yourself. If you believe your symptoms are being caused by anxiety, reassure yourself that what you are experiencing is not harmful or fatal. “They’re not serious, and they don’t signal an impending medical disaster,” says Dr. Barsky. The symptoms will pass when the anxiety eases.
Areas In Your Body You Hold Your Stress
Did you know that there are three primary areas of the body that typically hold tension? All of us have preferred places in our bodies where our pain, worry, and fears are most readily expressed in muscular tension. The three key areas in the body that have the potential to be most affected by emotional forces are the pelvic floor, the diaphragm, and the jaw.
Many of you have experienced tension in your neck and jaw and tightness in your low back. This can be driven primarily by emotions. If we think of it this way, pleasurable experiences typically will cause us to relax, energize, and expand. Conversely, unpleasant experiences are going to typically cause us to contract, be tenser, and possibly even depressed. We must recognize that this stress or muscular tension that we are holding in these three primary areas is subconscious and that rather than just addressing the symptom, we have to focus on what is the root cause. Is there another way for you to express your emotion? Meditation, mindfulness, yoga, journaling, and talking to a friend or talking to a psychologist are all really powerful and often necessary. Im going to discuss some quick bio hacks that can help with addressing these tensions and hopefully make you feel great.
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Why Should You Address Your Emotions
The thing about emotions is that you have to experience them, says Hendel. You cannot think your way out of an emotion.
Connecting your mind and body is integral to your overall well-being. In fact, according to Hendel, ignoring, burying, or blocking your emotions may contribute to more illnesses. For example, when your mind-body connection is weak, you may neglect your emotional and/or physical health.
Or you may feel shame surrounding emotions, such as depression. For this, Hendel wants to emphasize that theres nothing wrong with you. Sometimes your environment can be hurtful and cause you to internalize a literal, bad physical feeling. Or, like anxiety, these sensations of not feeling good enough can manifest physically in your body.
Thankfully, Hendel also says that demystifying emotions can help people stop being overwhelmed by them. According to the previously mentioned 2014 study, identifying emotional changes can help us understand emotional processing and identify mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
What Causes The Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety
Whether youre experiencing occasional anxiety or a diagnosable anxiety disorder, anxiety can manifest in the body in different ways. By releasing stress hormones, anxiety can affect almost every system of the body. But what causes physical symptoms?
The bodys fight-or-flight response is responsible for the physical symptoms of anxiety. Your fight-or-flight response is supposed to help you survive an immediate threat by escaping or fighting it off. If you have anxiety, your fear and worry trigger the fight-or-flight response, activating your sympathetic nervous system, which controls involuntary breathing and heart rate. This activation leads the body to release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, contributing to anxietys physical symptoms.
Anxiety can manifest in the following ways:
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Bring Your Awareness Elsewhere
When physical symptoms become overwhelming, it can help to adjust your focus to more pleasant activities. When anxious physical sensations are on the rise, try to redirect your attention to something else. Think about what activities you enjoy and could quickly change your focus.
For instance, you may decide to:
- Engage in a few stretches
- Listen to some calming music
- Practice mindfulness meditation
- Watch a movie
Regardless of what activities you choose, the point is to channel your excess energy into something that you find fun and soothing.
Fight Or Flight Response
It’s a set of symptoms you get when you react to something scary. Your fright triggers the release of certain hormones that send signals through your brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Blood and fuel floods to your arms and legs to prepare to meet the threat with one of two options: fight or run away. Your pulse and breathing speed up. You also might get sweaty and shaky.
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Physical Anxiety Symptom : Stomach Sensations
During fight or flight, “blood is diverted away from areas of the body where it is not needed for example, away from the stomach. This is why we frequently experience a churning sensation in the stomach or a ‘butterflies’ feeling when anxious.”
It is also very common to urgently need the toilet when you feel panicky. This is the body’s way of trying to get rid of any unwanted weight which could slow it down during fight or flight.
Similarly to chest pains being misinterpreted as a heart attack, Nicky says that “butterflies in the stomach thought of as being a sign that vomiting might occur.” This however, isn’t always the case.
Heart And Chest: Hurt
When someone has their heart broken, theres usually a corresponding strong pain in the chest area. Sometimes chest pains seem to be unexplainable medically, yet when doing therapeutic work, deep and painful memories of past relationships or loss come to the surface. Many patients report the relief of chest pain and tension after having worked through the hurt associated with their past relationships by speaking with a psychologist.
Allowing ones self to acknowledge and honor the sadness, as well as to mourn the loss, with tears and all, can let these painfully repressed feelings of sadness finally come out into the open and be released healing the associated chest pain and release the tension. Focusing on feeling the feeling of love for each tender or hurt sensation in your chest area can be a wonderfully freeing and healing experience.
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What Happens In Our Mind When We Are Anxious
Anxiety causes our brain to send messages to alert us to potential danger or prepare us for important events. However, when our brain is overly sensitive it can send messages, orworry thoughts, that are unnecessary and therefore unhelpful.
- What if I make a mistake at work and my boss thinks Im incompetent?
- What if I get really sick and end up in hospital?
- What if my date thinks Im a loser and never asks me out again?
- What if I fail the exam?
- If there is bad traffic, Ill be late and get fired
- I wont be able to cope with these feelings
- What if we get in an accident?
- What if I say something stupid?
- If I dont get at least 8 hours of sleep Ill be a wreck.
- What if I forgot to turn off the stove and there is a fire?
- What if my friend is mad at me?
Recognizing Anxious Thoughts
Anxiety also affects how we think. Anxious thoughts typically involve a fear of something bad happening. When we are anxious, we tend to see the world as a threatening and dangerous place.The problem with thinking and acting as if there is danger when there is no real danger is that you feel unnecessarily anxious. Therefore, one effective strategy to manage your anxiety is to replace anxious, negative thinking with helpful thinking. Helpful thinkingmeans looking at all aspects of a situation before drawing conclusions. In other words, taking a more realistic view of what is happening. Helpful thinking means looking at yourself, others and the world in a balanced and fair way.
What Happens To Our Body When We Are Anxious
Anxiety can cause many sensations in our bodies as it prepares for danger. These sensations are called the alarm reaction. They occur when the bodys natural alarm system is activated. These sensations occur because our bodies are getting ready to help us defend ourselves.
Recognizing Physical Symptoms of Anxiety
You can learn to identify the physical signs of anxiety by asking yourself: What happens when Im anxious? Where do I feel the anxiety in my body? For example, when you feel anxious, you may get butterflies in your stomach, sweat a lot, breathe heavily, and feel dizzy or lightheaded.
REMEMBER: If you often experience many uncomfortable physical symptoms, but doctors cannot find anything wrong with you physically, you may have problems with anxiety. You aredefinitely notgoing crazy. Although these symptoms may be uncomfortable, they are not harmful.