The feeling of stress is a symptom of anxiety relating to some difficulty. The stress can be real or imagined. And by imagined, I don’t mean the stress is not real. Our stress is often from things that have not happened yet. Our minds will kick anxiety into high gear and spiral out of control down pathways that may never even happen. But while the situation may never happen, your mind is still spinning you in very unhappy directions.
The purpose is actually a good one. Your mind is hoping that you will recognize the discomfort and take a positive action and settle your environment back into a balanced state.
But the reality of our modern life is that many things are out of our control. But what is in our control is how we react to the stressors in our life: There a pattern to anxiety symptoms we can use to understand and apply to our daily life to make it better.
Symptoms of Anxiety:
Panic or anxiety attacks feel like a hypersensitized response to increased stress and pressure of life. The is your body going into a “fight or flight” response when adrenaline is released. It can even be triggered by too much caffeine.
Your heart rate will increase when you are having a panic attack and you’ll feel like you have the energy to run and escape. Many people report feeling dizzy and lightheaded when in the throes of a panic attack. Others perspire heavily and feel shaky. They are all symptoms of adrenaline overload. Basically your body’s natural response to danger has been triggered. Whether the danger is real or imagined, your body’s response is real and powerful.
What To Do: Slow down, sit down, breathe. You can actually slow down and breathe your way through the feeling of panic. You might not realize it but many people will hold their breath in response to this adrenaline rush.
Equally important to how your body is responding is how your mind is acting. What kind of inner dialog are you having. I have always said that no one can be meaner than the voices inside my own head. Those voices that say you are just being stupid, nothing is wrong, calling yourself an idiot. Those voices are wrong and you need to shut them down. Watch how you speak to yourself with an inner dialogue during these events. Let go of perceptions and judgements. Remind yourself that this will pass and is only a temporary reaction to stress. Do not fuel it by going into “what if” thinking, which only intensifies the release of adrenaline.
Heart Palpitations: Your heart suddenly racing heart in response to fear, either conscious or subconscious. Often what we are reacting to happened hours before. Our minds have had time to really lather ourselves into a panic over something that is already in the past and events that may never happen in the future.
Again, fearful thinking only fuels this symptom so try to slow down and focus on your breathing. If you are really worried this is physical, rule out any physical cause of this symptom. Anytime you are unsure if it is anxiety related, a visit to your primary physician will always allow you piece of mind.
What To Do: Walk in moderation and leave the worried mind behind. Physical activity helps burn off the adrenaline so getting out and walking around the block may help. You can also read something to take your mind away from the current spiral of anxiety. Again, breathe slowly and calmly. Watch fearful and judging inner monologues. Avoid too much caffeine which is known to trigger jittery and anxious feelings.
Stomach and Digestion Difficulties: An upset stomach, gas or bloating are also common signs related to anxiety. In fact, your stomach, or gut, is often in tune with your emotions and intuition (“follow your gut”).
What To Do: Walking or quiet breathing to quiet the mind will also help the stomach. Your stomach is not reacting to anything but your mind (assuming you don’t have food poisoning).
Dizziness: Feeling lightheaded or dizzy is another frequent reaction to stress and anxiety. As I mentioned earlier, many people hold their breath in response stress. You could also be tightening muscles and restricting blood flow without even realizing it. Again, it’s important to rule out real medical issues so if you suspect this is more than stress, it’s important to contact your physician.
What To Do: Breathing is key here too but not just for relaxation. If you are dizzy, make sure you are taking slow and mindful breaths that can reestablish a consistent air flow. Mind that self-talk so you are not making your fears and anxiety worst.
Insomnia: Sleep is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. It’s impossible to be your best if you are exhausted because you didn’t get enough sleep. That alone will lead to higher stress levels.
What To Do: Limit caffeine. It will stay in your body longer than you expect and is often the problem. Exercise can also help to burn adrenaline and allow you to relax. However, exercise right before bed may keep you awake so be sure you give yourself time to relax after your workout so you can easily transition into a sleep period.
Be aware of the signals your body is sending you and what it is trying to tell you. Self-care is not selfish and taking care of yourself, listening to your body and controlling your responses to stress will help you gain control of your mind and body.
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