How Anxiety Symptoms Can Affect You Physically and 5 Ways to Ease Them
Is your anxiety making you feel sick? Here’s how you can ease physical anxiety symptoms.
Anxiety is an emotion that can hit you at ill-opportune times. Most of the time, you barely recognize that you're suffering from it. Some anxiety symptoms can feel like signs of physical illness, making people feel even more anxious. They begin overanalyzing not just their emotions but also their visible symptoms.
Physical Anxiety Symptoms
According to the American Psychological Association, feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes characterize anxiety. Occasional anxiety is common and even healthy. You can feel anxious right before an important presentation at work or before making a crucial decision. These emotions can manifest as physical anxiety symptoms, such as increased heart rate, shortness of breath, dizziness, and trembling. Some chronic symptoms include frequent headaches, muscle pain, and stomach problems.
Anxiety happens when the autonomic nervous system produces a fight-or-flight response, as explained in Harvard Health. This system in the human body regulates automatic responses such as heart rate, breathing, and urination. It also manages how the body reacts to physical threats. Stress and anxiety trigger this action, hence the physical symptoms.
How do you know if anxiety is behind your physical symptoms? Here’s what you can do to assess them and cope.
1. Take a step back and identify the source.
It is easier said than done, but unless you have a psychologist at your beck and call 24/7, honest self-assessment is your best bet. If you’re experiencing physical symptoms, ask yourself if you’ve had any stressful or emotionally upsetting experiences recently. If the symptoms appeared after these experiences, anxiety likely triggered them.
2. Find a healthy distraction.
A study published in Harvard Health states that distraction is a helpful tool in relieving physical symptoms of anxiety. Often, anxious people feel better once they move on to a different activity. Come up with a distraction that relaxes you and makes you feel fulfilled. Some people find that working helps. Others turn to watering their plants or playing with their pets. Others find comfort in talking to friends, even if it’s not about what’s making them anxious. Try different activities to cope with anxiety and see what helps take your mind off your symptoms.
3. Practice regular self-care.
The National Institute of Mental Health cites practicing self-care as one of the most effective ways to manage stress. Observing a regular regimen also reduces your risk of illness and increases your energy. It can help with easing emotional and physical symptoms. Build a routine that incorporates relaxation, such as giving yourself a face massage with a gua sha or using products that have aromatherapeutic benefits.
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4. Find ways to reassure yourself.
Stop googling your symptoms if you don’t want to start worrying that you have a life-threatening disease. Assure yourself that you're not having a medical emergency. Help yourself feel calmer by not overanalyzing what you’re feeling. If you think it will help, contact a doctor. Usually, talking to a professional, whether it’s a psychologist or a physician, can help ease anxiety as well as its physical manifestations. You can also inform your doctor of any pre-existing medical conditions to be sure.
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5. Seek help when you notice these three things.
Look out for these three behavior changes. According to Harvard Health, these can signal that your regular anxiety is becoming an anxiety disorder. If you’re no longer enjoying activities that you love, if fear affects your daily life, and if you find yourself withdrawing from friends and family, seek help. Talk to a friend or family member who will be supportive or go straight to a professional. Whatever you are more comfortable with.