Please Don't Feel Guilty About Experiencing These 9 Anxiety Symptoms
It’s a term that’s often used in the wrong way. A lot of people use that term interchangeably with stress, burnout or nervousness, but for those of us who have or deal with anxiety, we know the difference between those feelings all too well.
While each one of us may experience anxiety symptoms differently or levels of them, here are some common anxiety symptoms that you shouldn’t feel guilty about experiencing.
1. Shutting Down
For me, this is a form of withdrawal from specific things, such as not caring so much about my appearance, not putting in as much effort to make plans with family or friends, and a never ending feeling of not “getting a much-needed break.”
Anxiety is just as physically draining as it is emotionally, and that means your body and mind can both feel exhausted after having a bad day. If you fail to find ways to relieve or cope with that anxiety, it keeps snowballing and becomes much harder to break free, so at times it’s easier to just shut down in areas of your life. There are times you may need to actually shut down to recharge and rest and if you do need that, try your best to do just that. You should never feel bad about taking care of yourself.
2. Talking Too Much
Have you ever noticed when you’re anxious around people you talk — a lot? Surprisingly, this is another common symptom of anxiety. When we are put into situations that create anxiety, our natural response might be to try and diffuse the situation and what better way to do that then talk about anything and everything but how we’re feeling? There’s nothing to be ashamed of with this one. Personally, I’ve slowly started to recognize this trait from others I know dealing with anxiety and have learned that little subtle changes to the conversation or switching up the music in the background noise can help them slow down.
3. Not Talking At All
This is me all the way. When my anxiety hits too close to home, usually when I have a doctor’s appointment or have to try to do something again for the first time since my chronic pain decreased, I go quiet. Super quiet. Some may question if I even go into daydream mode, but the entire time I’m struggling with racing thoughts, heart palpitations, a queasy stomach, lightheadedness and still trying to find ways to stay present, be mindful, be accepting and kind toward myself.
I always feel bad about this one, especially when I’m around people who don’t understand my anxiety because it comes off as being really disconnected to others. As I continue to deal with this, I’m becoming more aware of it and have learned to speak up. When I let the person know I’m listening, even though I’m still trying to cope with what’s going on internally, it’s made a huge difference. Give it a shot next time you find yourself in “silent mode” like your cell phone.
4. Asking Too Many Questions
Anxiety should just be dubbed the “What-If Curse,” right? We’re constantly thinking about the most bizarre scenarios or outcomes, so when we’re feeling anxious, a lot of questions might follow. OK, maybe too many questions follow. It may seem like we’re being overcautious or trying to be over-prepared for something, but it’s honestly helping us feel like we’re in more control because we have answers for anything from A to Z. Try not to look at this one like a negative, instead think of this as being super organized when it happens.
5. Excessive Worrying
Again, this symptom is one I deal with a lot. I am constantly worried, so unlike some who think they ask too many questions, I’m rushing through the most outlandish scenarios of what might happen once an anxiety trigger hits. It doesn’t matter how unlikely my thoughts are or how improbable something can be to happen — if there is even a fraction of a chance something negative could happen, my mind is running through a plan on what to do if it does so I’m ready for it.
This makes me modify things, such as overpacking my purse in case I have a flare-up while we’re only going to be out of the house for a short period of time. This is such a common symptom, and not just for people with anxiety, a lot of individuals who are high-stressed can relate to this one too. Do your best to know you’re not alone on this one.
6. Getting Grumpy
Getting grumpy from anxiety is overlooked as a symptom. You’re constantly on edge mentally and physically so it’s no wonder you’re not going to be happy, cheerful and optimistic all the time. When anxiety hits you, your focus shifts entirely and this shift varies from person to person. It may appear to others that you’re being grumpy when you don’t think you are, but it’s probably because we’re too caught up in the anxiety to realize what we may be projecting from our snappy responses or body language.
Quick tip on this one, I read really good advice to help with this. They recommended creating a phrase that your family, friends, partners or whoever can say to you when you snap at them while you’re anxious. This phrase can help bring you back to the present moment and bring awareness that you reacted out of anxiety.
7. Feeling Overstimulated by Noise
Concerts, comedy shows, music in vehicles, movies, parties — the list of sound goes on and on. Have you ever noticed your anxiety creeping up out of nowhere when you were having fun somewhere loud? Suddenly, you feel like a complete party pooper or Debbie Downer of the group and just want to leave to find some peace and quiet? You are not alone by any means.
It surprises a lot of people to learn that if you have anxiety, noise control can make a big difference to keep your anxiety at bay. When we hear something loud, especially in a new or unknown environment, our natural instincts kick in and try to signal we’re in danger, even when we’re not and know that we’re perfectly safe. Our internal “danger alarm” tends to get titled when we have anxiety and sometimes all it takes is controlling the noise to keep that anxiety from taking over.
8. Sleep Struggles
Do you have trouble sleeping because you’re anxious? Or are you anxious because you can’t sleep well? It’s hard to know which one is the problem. Sleep is vital to our overall health and well-being, but when we get ready for bed and cannot stop all the racing thoughts, the to-do’s for tomorrow, the things we forgot to do today, sleep can feel impossible. It can be really hard to ease anxiety before laying down for the night and even harder to stay asleep throughout the night. The sleep struggle is very real for those with anxiety and sucks, especially when our bodies are impacted from the physical symptoms and already feel exhausted.
Some useful tips for this symptom may be to try meditating, adding exercise to your daily routine, creating quiet time where you prep relaxation before bed, avoiding anxiety triggers hours before your bedtime or journaling all your thoughts out so they won’t be racing in your head once it hits the pillow.
9. Physical Symptoms
Last, but not least, please never feel guilty for experiencing the physical symptoms anxiety can cause. It’s just our body reacting and trying to keep us safe from something we perceive as dangerous. If you have anxiety, I’m willing to bet you feel one or more of these physical symptoms when it strikes:
- Racing heart or heart palpitations
- Chest pain or tightening
- Rapid breathing
- Body tension
- Upset stomach or nausea
- Panic attacks
- Hot or cold flashes
These are all normal reactions that anxiety can have on someone’s body. This is one of the reasons why anxiety is such a scary thing for people — we truly see the body and mind connection with anxiety. Rest assured, these physical symptoms are not uncommon and a lot of people experience them, sometimes daily.
Living with anxiety is not easy and having chronic pain is connected to developing anxiety. It can be a very scary thing to experience and incredibly hard to learn how to manage it.
My anxiety started from my chronic pain and was awful during my undiagnosed period. While I received my official diagnosis, attended therapy, practice meditation daily, integrated yoga and physical therapy into my routine, journaling and all kinds of other stuff in my management plan, I still deal with anxiety. Sometimes it comes on suddenly and I have a hard time pinpointing which trigger caused it.
Don’t be afraid to open up about your anxiety symptoms with those you love and trust. When you teach them about your triggers and anxious reactions, they can try to help you through it until it passes. I know it can be hard to be vulnerable, but this alone has helped me the most with managing it, especially when I’m with other people.
No matter where you find yourself with anxiety, please know you are not alone — and that you have no reason to feel any shame or guilt. Anxiety does not define who you are or your value in any way.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash