Sometimes, it’s obvious when you’re suffering from anxiety — but other times, it shows up in subtle ways. Over the past year especially, many people have experienced anxiety due to COVID-19 and the consequent social isolation. In June 2020, 31% of American adults reported struggling with anxiety.
Here are some signs you could be dealing with anxiety yourself — and what to do if you’re experiencing these symptoms.
You’re always imagining the worst-case scenario.
Anxiety causes you to ruminate on negative things that could happen in the future, explains licensed professional counselor Stephanie Waitt, LPC. If it feels lately like your mind is going down a rabbit hole of doom-evoking thoughts, Waitt recommends you actually listen to those thoughts and ask yourself: what if your worst fears came true? “Oftentimes, what clients realize is they can handle, adjust, and pivot should they encounter this worst-case scenario,” she says.
Your thoughts are racing.
When you’re anxious, you may think so quickly you have trouble controlling or even keeping track of your thoughts. If this happens to you, it’s important to remember that these thoughts aren’t the truth — they’re just you attaching a story to a reaction happening in your brain, Waitt explains. “When you notice anxious thoughts, literally picture a big red stop sign in your mind. Remind yourself that ‘just because I think something doesn’t mean it is true.’”
You always feel the need to be doing something.
Anxious people can have a hard time just sitting and relaxing. If you feel a constant need to be productive, anxiety may be driving you toward distractions. Waitt suggests meditating if you get into this state. “To fight the urge to do one more thing on your to-do list when you want to really be relaxing, remind yourself of all you accomplished today and take a 10-minute break,” she says. “Find a quiet place. Put down the phone and close your eyes for 10 minutes and breathe.”
You feel physically uncomfortable for no apparent reason.
Anxiety can sometimes show up in the form of physical symptoms like chest tightness, difficulty breathing, a racing heart, bloating, or skin tightness. “You may feel like something is wrong, and this is your body’s cue that ‘hey we are in a stressed out state,’” says Waitt. “Deep breathing, slow or restorative yoga, or a nice walk outside can help relax the body and calm the anxiety.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, reach out to a therapist or a mental health care provider.
xx, The FabFitFun Team