Although anxiety can feel like an experience that’s incredibly isolating making it hard to connect to the world around you, the truth is that it’s a lot more common than you might think. Nearly 1-in-5 people will experience anxiety at some point in their lives. As pervasive as it is, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it. Here, we’re going to look at not only the signs that you should seek help for your anxiety, but also tips and strategies to help you manage everything from panic attack triggers to being able to leave the home and interact with people for the treatment you need.
Often, the first sign of anxiety that causes people to take notice is one of the most distressing and unpleasant of all. Panic attacks are an immediate rush of anxiety due to the body’s natural fight-or-flight response firing when it’s not needed. It has a range of physical symptoms, such as sweating, shaking, dizziness, perceived difficulty breathing, and more. Some people liken it to feeling like a heart attack, but without the pain. It can genuinely feel like you are in very real physical danger, but the majority of panic attacks have no physical risk. Performing deep breathing exercises can help you avert or calm a panic attack, but it’s wise to seek treatment for your anxiety if you experience even one.
Constant worry makes it harder to make decisions
Anxiety can cause a lot of self-doubt and indecision, to the point that even the most minor of choices can feel difficult. With anxiety often comes the concern that your actions and your choices are the “wrong ones”. There are several tactics to improve decision-making when suffering from anxiety. One is to force your mind to think of the best possible outcome of a decision instead of thinking about how it can go wrong. Developing visualisation techniques to keep your predictions positive can help you identify the best possible choice for the situation.
You fear being around people
That concern that you will “get it wrong” can play a big role in your social interactions, as well. Your anxiety may cause you to miss out on gatherings, parties, and events, even really big ones like family weddings. It can also get in the way of going through with treatment plans, such as prescription medicine your doctor has ordered. While it is important to address the root causes of anxiety so that this fear of other people goes away, using an online pharmacy can help you keep up with your medication so that you don’t fall behind in your treatment. As for what causes the symptom of social anxiety, that gets into a few of the other symptoms we will explore further.
You feel like you can’t voice your opinion
One of the causes of the social side of anxiety is the fear of how you will be perceived or treated. As a result, some people experience that they are not comfortable voicing their opinion or speaking much at all because they are worried that they will look stupid, offend people, or otherwise get a negative response. Self-confidence building exercises can help you. This includes learning to challenge the “inner voice” that raises those doubts and suspicions. A common tactic that helps a lot is being compassionate with yourself. Think about how you would treat a family member or friend if they voiced the same opinion as you. You likely would not perceive, judge, or react as harshly as you imagine others might treat you.
Concerned to the point of distraction
When you have concerns on your mind, justified or not, they can occupy all of your attention. This can easily cause problems when you’re in social situations, at work, or simply trying to get something done. You can get distracted from what’s at hand, leading you to make errors, which can only exacerbate your feelings of anxiety. Mindfulness is a very helpful technique for a whole range of issues, but most important of all is that it helps you actively exercise “being in the moment”, putting distracting thoughts to the side so that you can better focus on what you’re doing at the moment. There are a range of mindfulness exercises and apps you can use to build this skill.
Feelings of panic arise out of nowhere
The panic attack is the most noticeable and dramatic example of this, but people can experience sudden panicked, stressed feelings in a variety of different ways. It may not be a panic attack, it may be a sudden concern that you have done something wrong or a bad feeling that’s hard to put away for the entire day. This is a common symptom of anxiety and often related to behavioural triggers. Triggers are circumstances, actions, and environments that cause a psychological response that is seemingly out of our control. By identifying and recognising your triggers, however, you can learn not only to avoid them, but to anticipate and habituate yourself to them so that they are less impactful. This is a common practice in cognitive behavioural therapy, which can be a very effective way of treating anxiety.
It’s not uncommon for people with anxiety to worry so much that they end up physically exhausted. What’s more, those concerns can easily keep you up at night. Both these factors can seriously disrupt sleep, so that lethargy and tiredness become a regular occurrence. There are plenty of sleep-improving techniques you can use to help you get through the night, including incorporating more exercise into your day, taking half-an-hour or more to wind down before bed, avoiding too much screen-time in the evening and more.
Experience back or joint pain
The physical effects of anxiety and stress, such as sleep deprivation, are extremely similar, partially because they cause a lot of the same chemical and physical reactions in the body. Anxiety causes physical stress and tension in the muscles. This can put pressure on your back and joints, leading to pain that can potentially become chronic. Tackling the physical symptoms, such as alleviating that pain or improving your sleep, can help with your more mental, emotional symptoms as well. When it comes to experiencing physical pain as a result of anxiety, try strategies that also help you relax at the same time, such as doing yoga, meditating, massages, and the like.
You feel isolated
Anxiety can feel very much like a battle that you have to take on alone. Unless stress, which is usually caused by external factors, anxiety can be harder to pin down. You may not feel able to talk to your family and friends about it. Turning to support and self-help groups can help you not only share your experiences with those who know what you are going through, it is also a great place to learn practical tips and new techniques to help you manage a whole range of symptoms. It can also help you get more comfortable with talking about your anxiety, which may make it easier to share with your friends and family.
Anxiety can manifest differently for every person. Your triggers may not be the same as others’, and some of the symptoms above may not apply to you. If you have any reason to be concerned about your mental health, however, don’t aim to check all the boxes. Seeking help earlier can help you develop the techniques necessary to stop it from getting worse.
*This is a collaborative post*