Feeling overwhelmed? Do you have a constant knot in your tummy? Finding it difficult to concentrate and settle on a night?
Stress and anxiety are words that we often use in our vernacular everyday, from the “I’m feeling anxious” to the ‘you’re really stressing me out.’ But what does it truly mean to be anxious? Anxiety can affect us both physically and mentally. We can experience it momentarily when we are waiting to find out if we have the winning numbers on the lotto for instance or it may last weeks, months, in some cases years. Most of the time there are clear triggers to our anxiety, but at others there may be no rhyme or reason behind it, so experiencing symptoms can catch us off guard and be quite unsettling.
Here are some of the signs to look out for:-
- You are restless and constantly fretting
You can’t seem to rest easy. Your mind is constantly ticking over, worrying about things. You find yourself agonising over the slightest of details that most people wouldn’t think twice over.
- You are more irritable than normal
Being more irritable can often be a sign of anxiety. You may find you are losing your cool with friends and family or even work colleagues more easily. This can often be a sign that you are feeling overwhelmed and not coping.
- You can’t concentrate
When you feel anxious you might find it difficult to concentrate or focus on what you are meant to be doing. You second guess yourself which means it can sometimes take you twice as long to do anything. Your to-do list mounts up and, you’ve guessed it, so does your anxiety level!
- You are not sleeping and feeling tired
It is not unusual for your anxiety to be worse on a night when you are sat in the dark and left alone with your thoughts. You can start to over-think things that you have said or done that day which can make unwinding near on impossible. Worrying can stop you falling asleep in the first place or it might mean that you wake up several times in the night, in a panic or at the crack of dawn. This can affect your energy levels in the day making you feel both physically and emotionally exhausted.
- You feel physically unwell
When you are feeling emotionally anxious, it can sometimes affect your physical health. You may feel sick, or actually be sick. You may struggle with general aches and pains from headaches to stomach trouble. When you are feeling really anxious about something, you may experience panic attacks which can be really frightening. You feel really short of breath, your chest might get tight and you may start to feel lightheaded.
- You feel down in the dumps
It is not uncommon for your mood to be affected when you are feeling anxious. You might feel low or notice you are more tearful than normal. You may struggle to get motivated or find that you are not enjoying the things that you used to. You may start making excuses why you can’t go out and socialise and start withdrawing from family and friends. You may look at ways of trying to manage your mood yourself, some methods being more helpful than others. It is not uncommon that when people are anxious that they may turn to drugs and alcohol to help them cope.
Sound familiar? What to do if you are worried that you may be anxious…
- Talk to someone about how you are feeling, whether it is a friend, family member or work colleague.
- Keep a diary and log of times you have felt anxious. Is there a pattern? Is there anything, as far as you can tell, that sets it off? If there is a clear trigger, perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed with tasks at work, talking to your boss may be part of the solution that leads to scaling down your commitments which ultimately lessens your anxiety.
- Lastly, book an appointment to see your GP. Your doctor in the first instance will likely want to rule out a physical cause for your symptoms. If your anxiety is having a significant effect on your personal and working life, your GP may look to refer you on for a talking therapy or it might be that they think about prescribing some medication to help manage your symptoms in the short term. They may even consider referring you to a mental health specialist.