In life, it seems you are quickly overcome by many obstacles and troubled situations. Whether you’re struggling in a relationship, as a parent, in your career or with finances, these issues tend to consume you and always take top priority over your own personal self-care needs. Your emotions are dismissed by both yourself and others. Your worries control you, keeping you up late at night stuck in a continuous pattern of problem-solving as you replay the same scenarios over and over again in your head searching for a positive outcome within each scenario. You find yourself completely lost in a sea of stress and anxiety. Soon enough, you start experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety, and that’s how you know it’s time to take a step back and start questioning the effects that stress places on your mind and your body.
So What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of panic or fear. It is a natural reaction we feel when we are subjected to a dangerous situation. It’s wired in our brains for survival. We need anxiety in order to survive when we are in REAL DANGER. It’s part of our fight or flight response. For example, if a cannibalistic tribe were running after you and tried to eat you, this would be an appropriate time to have panic and fear. SURVIVAL is a natural part of our instincts. However, as we’ve advanced over time, we no longer need to run from cannibalistic tribes. Although, we still operate with this feeling that we are always in danger and that we need to STAY ALIVE.
Do we need to survive? Absolutely. We must all endure through broken relationships, financial issues, health issues, grief, etc. NO ONE IN THE WORLD IS EXEMPT from having to endure through these situations whether it’s a hobo on the street or the Queen of England.
When Do You Experience Stress and Anxiety?
A big life event such as moving to a new house, sending your child to college, or having a major surgery are all appropriate times to have feelings of stress and anxiety. When these worries become EXCESSIVE and are interfering with your ability to function on a day-to-day basis, you may develop physical symptoms of anxiety. Some physical symptoms of anxiety that have resulted from stress could be fear of leaving your house, difficulty breathing, and the feeling that your heart is constantly pounding outside of your chest.
Everyday Stress Can Lead to Anxiety
Some levels of stress are necessary in order to ENCOURAGE yourself to meet deadlines and get through other taxing situations that life throws at you. However, when stress goes unnoticed and untreated, it can lead to SERIOUS health issues that are damaging to the health of your mind and your body.
One of the main physical and emotional conditions that can develop from chronic stress is anxiety. Physical symptoms of anxiety such as high blood pressure and a weakened immune system can seriously harm your overall health.
Most Common Types of Anxiety
If you have generalized anxiety you have excessive worry about every possible occurrence in life. Feelings of worry are so severe that they are constant even when there is nothing to causing them. Physical symptoms include muscle tension, constantly feeling on edge and unsafe and feelings of fatigue.
Those that are diagnosed with this type of anxiety suffer from recurring panic attacks. During a panic attack, one may feel as if something terrible is going to happen. The panic is so intense that physical symptoms like heart palpitations, shaking, and shortness of breath can occur. Some people may believe that they are dying.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety that occurs after a traumatizing life event. These events include threatened physical or emotional harm whether it be due to violence, sexual abuse, or verbal abuse. People who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder could also be witness to traumatic events such as a mass shooting or natural disaster. Symptoms of this type of anxiety generally begin around three months after the incident. Physical symptoms of this anxiety manifest in the forms of intense aggression, depression, fear and emotional detachment (usually a defense mechanism). Physical symptoms include blackouts, flashbacks, nightmares, and avoidance of anything that might trigger the traumatic event.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
This type of anxiety submits a person to constant, uncontrollable thoughts as well as unwanted, compulsive and repetitive behavior. These behaviors consist of repetitive counting, cleaning or the repetition of certain words. A person with OCD will perform these tasks in hopes of freeing themselves from the pestering thoughts. However, performing the task that is bothering them only brings temporary relief, and they often find themselves subject to compulsions once again. Physical symptoms that characterize this anxiety are panic attacks, irritability and refusing to eat.
Social anxiety causes a person to be overly self-conscious, as well as experience extreme anxiety in day-to-day social situations. This type of anxiety can be experienced in certain situations, such as speaking in front of people or being the center of attention. It can also be so overwhelming that a person experiences physical symptoms of anxiety, such as panic and sweating, during any contact in public. People suffering from this tend to isolate themselves and avoid groups of people in general.
25 Physical Symptoms of Anxiety to Look For
Now that you are familiar with the types of anxiety that are most common, it is important to understand the physical symptoms of anxiety and how to notice them. Being aware of how your body can be affected by anxiety is necessary to ensure that you are taking proper care of yourself. Remember, you must be in your best condition before you can take proper care of anyone else. Here is a list of physical symptoms of anxiety to be aware of.
Shortness of Breath
This symptom is usually experienced when you are feeling so anxious that you are unable to relax or control your breathing. Shortness of breath can also lead to a heavy feeling in the chest, making it even tougher to breathe normally.
Tense muscles can occur during a panic attack and don’t always subside after the threat has passed. Pain is felt in the back of the neck, the shoulders, and sometimes the jaw tightens. This can be one of the most painful physical symptoms of anxiety which also causes irritability.
Mind Suddenly Blanks
A blank mind can sometimes be the result of feeling so overwhelmed that you are unable to sort your thoughts, so your mind simply chooses to shut down.
Frequently Feeling on Edge
This symptom is characterized by feeling jumpy, shaky or physically trembling. You may feel that there is always potential danger around you that you must avoid.
Fear of danger or shortness of breath can cause you to worry more, accelerating your heart rate.
High Blood Pressure
Due to your unsettled state, blood pressure can raise to dangerous levels.
Due to nervousness or panic.
Inability to feel rested after you have slept, frequent tossing and turning because of racing thoughts.
Persistent nauseous feeling, the stomach is uneasy.
Panic to the point of almost passing out.
Loss of Appetite
Food is not appealing, sometimes gagging occurs when eating.
Feeling of weakness throughout the body can occur because you are exhausted from worrying. This physical symptom of anxiety can be frustrating and debilitating.
A sudden feeling that something terrible is going to happen, heart-rate increases and you feel out of control.
Nervousness Around People
You are overly critical of yourself in many social situations, and you find yourself dwelling on what you said long after the event. You are worried about people’s opinions of you. As one of the most isolating physical symptoms of anxiety, this one can seriously hinder your daily function. This is because it is necessary to come in contact with people daily, both for work or running errands.
Frequent Bathroom Breaks
Nervousness can upset the bowels and cause uncontrollable bathroom visits.
Feeling the heart race, flutter, add or skip a beat.
When feeling anxious, you bite your nails, pick at your nails, and find yourself scratching your scalp.
Physically feeling your worry in your chest. Characterized by feeling like you are experiencing a heart attack.
Feeling like it is impossible to sit still. You are so on edge that you have to constantly be moving. The inability to stop moving can also be due to the discomfort caused by muscle tension or trouble breathing.
Since you are in an anxious state, your blood is pumping quicker than usual. This can upset the blood flow in your brain and cause severe headache pain. This is one of the physical symptoms of anxiety can be extremely debilitating and can last for a couple of days.
Feeling wound-up by anxiety can cause you to speak quickly and without thinking. Stuttering and feeling tongue-twisted are common.
It is possible that your body can react to stress by producing a red, itchy rash or hives that can appear on your skin.
Hot or Cold Flashes
When your body is in an upset state, the temperature can waver and change rapidly.
When the body is under constant stress, your nervous system can behave uncontrollably. This causes your nerves to behave irregularly and causes your muscles to twitch.
Constantly Catching a Cold or the Flu
Continuous stress and anxiety can weaken your immune system which makes you more susceptible to germs and viruses.
Treating Anxiety the Natural Way
If you are not familiar with essential oils, it will surprise you how effective and healing they can be for anxiety. Essential oils are the natural essences derived from different plants and can be absorbed through your skin or ingested for relief. Many of them boast incredible healing abilities that can lower blood pressure, reduce stress and help you sleep. Here is a list of some of the most powerful essential oils for anxiety, along with their abilities and how to use them:
The aroma of lavender is mainly used for relaxing purposes. When applied to your skin, it enters your bloodstream and alleviates stress and insomnia. The relaxation gets your heart rate back to normal, as well as lowers blood pressure. Studies have shown that there have been a number of clinical trials involving the inhalation of lavender essential oil that indicate a reduction in stress and anxiety. To use lavender, apply 2-3 drops to your wrists and let it soak into your skin.
Yoga and Meditation
Yoga and meditation are wonderful ways that teach you how to calm your mind. Yoga stretches soothe your tense muscles and provide relief for neck and back pain. The deep breathing that yoga promotes also stabilizes heart rate and breathing patterns. With dedication and practice, your physical symptoms of anxiety will melt away.
Meditation is the practice of mindfulness. It means sitting in silence and assessing the state of your mind and body. No distractions, no interruptions–just you, your mind, and your body. It can ease your racing thoughts and allow you the time to send love to the parts of you that need it. Meditation can be tough at first, as it doesn’t seem normal to sit and take time for yourself in this day and age. However, meditation can deliver long-term benefits and enables you the ability to control your mind.
Exercise can soothe your mental and physical symptoms of anxiety. Exercising releases mood-boosting endorphins and is also a wonderful way to get some alone time. Exercising is a great way to provide self-care for your body and mind.
Communication with your loved ones can decrease your physical symptoms of anxiety. When feeling anxious, you may feel like you don’t want to bother anybody with your problems. However, your selflessness can lead to serious feelings of isolation. Don’t hesitate to seek support. If no one in your family or close social circle is comfortable listening to your issues, seek a professional counselor or free support group.
When it comes to your physical and mental health, there is no room for pushing aside your feelings or dismissing your stressful thoughts. Although it may be tough and make you feel vulnerable, it is important to seek relief for yourself. It is easy to dismiss your physical symptoms of anxiety as normal stress, but when it becomes debilitating it is necessary to address your state. Use all of your resources, practice some self-care, and surround yourself with people that love you. Remember to be patient with yourself, and know that you are irreplaceable and have so much to offer to those around you.