Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses, but also possibly one of the most illogical. From physical to mental symptoms to everything in between, below you’ll find 5 examples of what anxiety feels like in day to day life.
*It’s important to note, that this isn’t an exhaustive list of anxiety symptoms. These are only the symptoms I personally encounter, anxiety may manifest differently for you! This also isn’t a check list for the validity of your anxiety, nor is it a diagnostic tool.*
1. Excessive overthinking and worrying
This is possibly the most disruptive aspect of my anxiety. Every little thing has the capacity to feel like the most catastrophic thing in the world.
It’s almost like a tiny voice in your head that wants to watch the world burn. Something minor thing that is 6 months away can suddenly feel like it must be addressed now or your entire life will fall apart.
Anxiety can also cause you to dissect every little thing. Did that person look at me funny? Did they not like me, did I say or do something wrong? Oh god I must have done something wrong. I better replay that scene over and over to examine what a failure I am.
Ridiculous? Yes. However it’s like a snowball rolling down a hill, once it starts it’s incredibly hard to stop!
2. What anxiety feels like in social situations
Social interaction creates a knot in my stomach that feels like a ball of lead. My initial response is always panic, even when I actually want to see that person!
Anxiety, (especially social anxiety) can make you feel like interacting with someone is simply a one-way ticket to disaster, or humiliation. It somehow convinces you that you will humiliate yourself by doing something wrong.
It ensures that every second you spend around others is spent over analysing your every move for any sign of a mistake. Any mistake, perceived or otherwise is then stored in a special little memory bank to keep you awake at night!
You can see how a simple coffee meeting can begin to feel like a marathon. If you have a friend who suffers with anxiety, especially in a social setting, here’s some things you can do to help.
3. What anxiety feels like mentally
Living with anxiety is like a background task on a computer, constantly running at 100% and sapping whatever other resources it needs to keep running.
Always there, always running, and like a Windows update prompt, always trying to get in your face at random times.
This creates some serious mental fatigue that takes away from other aspects of your life. It can even affect your memory! In a form of self fulfilling prophecy it can also cause you to make mistakes you wouldn’t otherwise make, which feeds back into the initial anxiety.
The fatigue caused by anxiety can leave you with very little energy, meaning things such as hygiene or cleaning may be neglected.
4. Sleeping issues
You would think with how mentally exhausting anxiety is, that sleep would be easy!
Unfortunately it’s the opposite. Anxiety, in its battle to keep toxic thoughts circulating at all times, doesn’t have a bed time. Trying to go to sleep when you struggle with anxiety is a battle of trial and error to find the routine that works for you.
5. What anxiety feels like physically
Anxiety doesn’t just have emotional and mental symptoms, it has physical symptoms too.
The most common symptoms are sweating, dry mouth, racing thoughts, sometimes shaking. It also causes tense muscles that you might not even notice, which can persist even when you’re not consciously anxious.
I read a brilliant line in a book recently, that said ‘floating in a soup of confusion’. Surprisingly, I found that a pretty apt description of living with anxiety!
As tough as anxiety can be, it can be managed. Although different things work for different people, a good starting point is always professional help!
Personally, I’ve found managing my anxiety to be a balance between fighting it, working with it, and channeling it. However what works for me may not work for you, so it’s important to consult a professional and use trial and error to figure out how you can best live with it.
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