I did a blog post not so long ago about the symptoms of anxiety but I thought this time, I’d just go into more detail about the symptoms and how they can affect you. Hopefully, by understanding the feelings you can learn some coping mechanisms.
Racing Thoughts: It’s something that happens to a lot of us when we are in a negative or panicked state of mind. Whenever I’m anxious, my head feels like a million thoughts are flooding through it, none of which I can actually focus on. Some of them may be trivial, like what I need to do, what I’m going to eat, or some can be more scary like something bad will happen if I don’t get out, what are people thinking of me, how do I even get out etc.
Racing Heartbeat: Anxiety is our body preparing to fight or fly which means we are pumped full of adrenaline. That’s going to cause your heart rate to go up. It’s unlikely that you’ll have actually moved enough so it just starts to feel like your heart is going crazy and you can’t slow it down unless you do something about the situation you’re in.
Needing to Run Away: This is the main thing I struggled with. If I was in an anxiety provoking situation, I would just feel the most compelling need to escape from it. Once I was out, I would calm down. If I stayed in it, most of the time I would just feel worse and worse. It’s a symptom that makes sense though considering anxiety is about fight or flight.
Sweaty Palms: It’s a bit embarrassing but very common and is associated with nerves. I guess it’s something that comes about as our palms are connected to our sympathetic nervous system so whenever we are stressed (which is what we are when anxious) the sweat glands in our hands get activated.
Fidgeting: This makes it more obvious to others that you are struggling with something which can then be embarrassing. I always feel super awkward but it’s the only way I can cope with all the energy and anxiousness.
Shaking: This is more common when experiencing an anxiety attack rather than feeling anxious. Again, it’s related to the fight or flight response as it is preparing your body to do one or the other. Your brain releases a chemical telling those parts to get ready for exertion. However, as it’s not likely you’re going to need that energy, you start shaking.
Stomach Pains: Again, this is something that I struggled with a lot. My main assumption is that when I’m anxious, everything gets tense. When the anxiety starts to subside, the stomach ache would kick in.
These are just a few of the symptoms that I have personally experienced (albeit to different degrees) and that I have learned to cope with. There will be days that are worse than others but if you understand why you are feeling what you are it can be easier to accept it. When you accept things, it usually passes quicker and stops triggering another sense of panic.
Understanding it can help you gain control of it. For example, if you know you get stomach ache when anxious, pay attention to it. When you start feeling anxious, see if you can feel your stomach muscles getting tight. Then you can find ways to practise relaxing them. That’s then likely to mean that you won’t have such a bad stomach ache.
A lot of people suggest mindfulness to help direct your attention away from the physical sensations and to the environment about you. This can be helpful, especially if you get more anxious when you notice certain symptoms.