Anxiety is more than feeling nervous before an important event or worrying about day-to-day things. It can feel like your body has been hijacked and it can feel impossible to switch off and relax. Understanding what’s going on when anxiety strikes helps you to take a step back and reduce the impact of it.
What does anxiety feel like?
Anxiety is a state of emotional and physical tension experienced when we perceive a threat or danger. Anxiety can cause many symptoms, physical mental and emotional such as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Feeling of a lump in the throat
- Digestive problems (feeling sick, diarrhoea)
- Sleep problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Inability to switch off
- Muscle Tension
The reason that anxiety can cause so many symptoms throughout the body is our body’s own fight/flight/freeze system, which was designed to keep us safe from danger. When we are threatened, our body is designed to divert blood from non-essential functions like digestion to the muscles so we are ready to fight a threat or run away. The issue is that we are constantly being bombarded by stress in our day-to-day lives, so a system designed to operate for short periods to protect us from threats can get stuck in overdrive.
Our body is constantly ready to run away but there’s nothing to run away from.
Anxiety vs worry
Everyone worries occasionally, but anxiety is much more than that.
Signs that you are experiencing anxiety rather than worry
- starting to avoid doing things you want or need to do
- feeling anxious a lot of the time, especially if there is no apparent reason for it
Understand your triggers
One of the first steps in understanding and overcoming anxiety is to notice what your triggers are—for example, deadlines, public speaking or a phobia. Try to notice what thoughts come into your mind about your triggers and see if you can challenge them and try to face the triggers starting small and building up. If you have mild anxiety you might be able to do this on your own but if you can’t then counselling could help you to work through it.
Some people have Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which is a constant feeling of anxiety about everyday things – if that’s you, it might not be possible to identify specific triggers.
Beyond the blog
Anxiety can be overcome – in the next few weeks I am going to publish more blogs with information about different types of anxiety and coping strategies.
The more you understand your anxiety and learn techniques to cope the less likely it is that it will be able to hijack you and you will start to notice the symptoms reduce in intensity.
My name is Anna and I am a Counsellor/Psychotherapist based on the Wirral. I trained to become a therapist after I experienced anxiety myself and counselling helped me to overcome it.
I use a range of techniques to help my clients – including CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), relaxation and mindfulness training and Person Centred Counselling (where we explore your experiences at your pace).
Sessions are available online or in my office in Birkenhead – if you’d like to know more contact me for a free phone chat or click the button below to book an appointment.