Signs You Might Be Living with Too Much Anxiety
Updated: Feb 6, 2019
Anxiety is a normal part of life...we all experience it from time to time. It's related to Fear, another inevitable part of the human experience, and both can often serve to let us know that something isn't right. The reason our heart starts to beat quickly when we start to cross a street and a car whizzes by? That's our Fear system directing us to get out of the road! Thank goodness for Fear, right? Sometimes, though Fear is anticipatory--meaning the potential scary thing hasn't happened yet. This is what we often think of when we talk about Anxiety. Sometimes Anxiety can be helpful, for instance motivating you to prepare for an upcoming deadline, but other times Anxiety can linger for seemingly no reason at all, and even sabotage your goals.
You can think of Anxiety as a spectrum: For some people, anxiety could feel like nervousness, some "butterflies" in the stomach, a sensation that goes away as quickly as it comes. For others it can feel like fear with a pounding heartbeat and an uncomfortably warm sensation throughout the body that seems like it will last forever-- while still others can experience a series of panic attacks, feeling as though they have completely lost control of their minds and bodies.
In order to differentiate whether or not your Anxiety is "par for the course" of being human or if Anxiety is causing you too much distress in your life, check out these signs that you might be living with Too Much Anxiety.
Your Anxious Thoughts Don't Go Away
Again, everyone has anxious thoughts. But for some of us, those thoughts don't just dissipate like they may for others. They feel intense, intrusive and just won't leave us alone.
Your Anxiety Partners with other Symptoms
You don't just get "butterflies" when you're nervous. Your Anxiety wreaks havoc on your body. You might experience stomach pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Or, you might get frequent headaches or other pain as a result of chronic muscular tension. If your Anxiety has partnered with other parts of your body, this can be a sign that your Anxiety has gotten too powerful.
You have Anxiety about the Anxiety
Do you worry about the next time you will have Too Much Anxiety? Are you anticipating the next panic attack? Worrying about the next intrusive thought? When you are worrying about Worry, this can be a sign that your Anxiety is taking up Too Much space in your mind.
You Have Trouble Staying in the Present
If you are worrying about something that might happen in the future, it's likely that you've lost touch with the Right Now. When we lose touch with our present, it's hard to focus, concentrate, because our minds are busy ruminating about the past or future. When we aren't in the present, it's difficult to make thoughtful decisions, because our choices are made from worry. We are also at a higher risk of actually facing real danger, because we are less aware of our current surroundings, for example, if we're driving around worrying about the past, we're more likely to miss a red light--or another car.
You Have an Urge to Avoid Anything that Evokes your Anxiety
Anxiety is uncomfortable. When it gets Too Much, it gets super uncomfortable, and then anything that brings Anxiety become distressing. So we avoid whatever that thing is, so we can avoid feeling the discomfort that the Anxiety brings. While this seems like a good coping skill at first (It brings immediate relief!), in the longer term, it actually makes the Anxiety even stronger, and you are left having to avoid more and more situations. Avoidance is a sign that your Anxiety might be Too Much.
You Can't Sleep
When you're body is hyper-alert and your mind is busy ruminating about worry thoughts, it's probable that you have trouble sleeping--either falling asleep or staying asleep. Of course, if you're not sleeping, you're already on edge and the Anxiety can grow even more powerful. It can result in a vicious circle, leaving you feeling chaotic and even more anxious.
You Are Irritable
A surprising sign of anxiety is that you might feel irritable. Surprising in that we don't typically imagine someone who feels anxious as irritable, but it's not really such a stretch when we understand what someone who is struggling with Anxiety is really feeling. Again, Anxiety is uncomfortable. Imagine walking around feeling uncomfortable much of the time. Or unpredictably super uncomfortable some of the time. Or super uncomfortable most of the time. Well, you get it, you'd feel irritable! Another sign your Anxiety might be Too Much!
You Experience an Impending Sense of Doom
"Impending Sense of Doom"--do those words paint a picture for you? People who live with Too Much Anxiety can have a pessimistic worldview, and expect a catastrophe around every corner. There can be a general sense in the body of feeling "on edge", that comes with chronic fear of when the expected doom will present itself.
If you can see your experience in these signs, it's likely that you are living with Too Much Anxiety. You have an unwelcome roommate--and it's not going to want to go anywhere anytime soon. Creating Space Counseling and Wellness can help you to get to know this "bully", to recognize how Anxiety affects your body, mind and spirit, and can teach you to respond in ways that take the Anxiety's power away, leaving you to feel more in control, less uncomfortable and ultimately, less anxious.
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