Anxiety can affect us in many ways. We may find ourselves shaky or soaked in sweat before an important meeting or job interview. We may feel sickness in the pit of our stomach at the thought of meeting new people or panic when we think of all the pressures and responsibilities we face. It can make us constantly worry about what will happen in the future, what other people think of us and whether we have said or done the right things.
Anxiety is a general feeling of unease, worry or fear. It’s normal to feel anxious when facing challenging or stressful situations. While a certain level of anxiety is part of everyday life, for some of us it can begin to take over. This can negatively affect our relationships, careers and self-esteem. Here are some common signs that may indicate we are experiencing chronic anxiety:
1. Unexplained Health Problems
Research shows a link between physical well-being and chronic anxiety and stress. Ailments such as reoccurring headaches, upset stomach, cramps and fatigue are frequently associated with persistent anxiety. Anxiety can drain our energy and often leads us to hold more tension in our bodies. This can leave us with unexplained aches and pains particularly in our head, face, neck and shoulders. We may find ourselves making unusually frequent trips to the bathroom which can be inconvenient and disruptive to our day. If we experience symptoms such as these and our doctor cannot find an underlying reason it is possible they may be triggered by anxiety.
2. Avoiding New Situations and People
Anxiety is often rooted in a desire to keep ourselves safe. When we are anxious any changes can feel threatening and we tend to avoid situations that are stressful or unpredictable. Activities such as socialising or attending meetings in work can fill us with dread. This can lead us to restrict our lives to the things that feel familiar. While this can be okay for a while it can result in us staying in the same job, relationship, location etc. for a long time even if we are not happy. If we find ourselves stuck in a rut but are fearful of change, it may be that anxiety is holding us back.
3. Feeling Negatively About Ourselves
Most of us feel critical about ourselves at some time or another. It’s normal to look at our behaviour, appearance etc. and consider what we might like to do differently. However, we should also be able to acknowledge our positive traits and the things we have done well. Anxiety is often linked to perfectionism. If we find we tend to feel constantly disappointed and critical of ourselves no matter what we do it may be caused by anxious feelings.
4. Intrusive Thoughts
Do we find ourselves going over and over the events of the day analysing or criticising things that have been said and done? Do we get preoccupied worrying about the things that may go wrong in the future and planning how we will react if they do? This can often interrupt time when we could be relaxing and even keep us awake at night. These type of intrusive thoughts are stressful, exhausting and can indicate we are experiencing anxiety.
5. Constant Fidgeting
Do we find it difficult to sit still? When we are anxious we hold a lot of tension in our bodies. Fidgeting provides a means of releasing this tension. If we find ourselves constantly nail biting, foot tapping, chewing, scratching, stroking or pulling hair it may be that we are holding tension and anxiety in our bodies.
Surprisingly, many people have symptoms like these for a long time without realising they are possible indicators of anxiety. Remember, identifying what we are experiencing is the most important step. We can then find ways to help ourselves cope better with our anxious feelings. For simple tips on coping with anxiety see https://www.janejustincounselling.ie/single-post/2018/10/22/5-Simple-Tips-to-Help-you-Cope-with-Anxiety
Make a change today.
Have a great week, Jane
Newbridge, Co Kildare
Portlaoise, Co. Laois