Now normally I’m really laid back and fun but there is something about mental illness that makes me become very serious, because it is serious, and it affects the best of us every single day. I’m just here to say you’re not alone when you are excessively worrying about something or on the verge of a panic attack (or breaking down).
For the longest time I didn’t know that the things I was struggling with my whole life were actually symptoms associated with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and it effects many people. I was constantly overthinking…. and not happy thoughts but NEGATIVE thoughts.
For Example, My Old Thought Process:
*Tire Goes Flat *
Me: Omg I can’t believe this is happening to me .
Me: This is so terrible I can’t afford to get this fixed right now .
Me: ugh I should be better at saving money I’m so irresponsible .
Also, Me: what if it’s something more serious and it costs way more than I can afford today .
Usually by this point I’m at a full-blown panic attack or crying hysterically.
Me AGAIN: OMG HOW AM I GONNA GET TO WORK IF MY CAR DOES NOT WORK!!
ME: IF I GET FIRED THEN IM GONNA GET EVICTED AND HAVE TO GET RID OF MY CATs AND MOVE WITH MY MOM!!
ME: IF I CAN’T GET TO WORK THEN IM GONNA GET FIRED !!
Meanwhile none of this has happened and all I have is a flat tire…
BUT I have convinced myself that I’m irresponsible, I’m getting fired, I’m getting evicted , losing my cats and moving in with my mom.
Pretty extreme right ….
This is what the thought process of someone suffering from anxiety is like … and this can be about anything. Any event can trigger a negative wave of thoughts that become paralyzing and scary AF.
This Is obviously not the ONLY way anxiety manifests its self and that is why I’m writing this. To give you 5 Anxiety Symptoms and How YOU Can Manage Them so that you can take control of your thoughts and break free of the restricted life of Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical professional. This post does not replace a diagnosis from a licensed physician.
What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?
To make this very clear Anxiety is a normal emotion that everyone experiences quite regularly. It’s basically the feeling you have when you are around the person you like or when you are presenting in front of a large group of people. It is a completely healthy emotion that is a normal response to a threat or an uncomfortable event (which is a threat to your brain).
The issue with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is not the Anxiety itself but WHAT your brain classifies as a threat. Anxiety Disorder is diagnosed when the anxiety and worrying become EXCESSIVE and start to affect your daily life.
When anxiety becomes this bad where you cannot control your negative thoughts or you’re not able to go to work it can really start to take a toll on your body in more ways than you can imagine.
Luckily by practicing a little mindfulness and self-awareness you can manage the symptoms of anxiety so that living life is not so difficult, here are 5 symptoms of anxiety and how you can manage them starting TODAY.
1| Overthinking and Negative Thoughts
I figured I would get the no brainer symptom out of the way. Yes, it is a well-known symptom, but it is by far the most aggravating part of having anxiety.
Overthinking is you constantly obsessing about your boyfriend cheating on you. It is staying up all night with racing thoughts about how you messed up at work today. At its finest overthinking is you convincing yourself you’re not good enough for something based on a previous failure.
I will say overthinking was the core of my anxiety. It played such a huge role in my life and caused countless nights without sleep along with negative thoughts that eventually ruined my self-esteem and ability to make decisions.
I also started this post with overthinking because it is the most difficult obstacle to overcome. You have to retrain your brain back to logical and realistic thinking and this requires self-awareness.
I urge you to start really tuning into yourself and writing down when you have allowed your brain to excessively think about something negative. Write down the negative thoughts you were having and then change those thoughts into positive thoughts.
- My boyfriend did not text me back who could he be talking to; I think he’s cheating on me
- I got a D on an assignment how could I be so stupid
Convert those negative and extreme thoughts to positive and more realistic thoughts like….
- My boyfriend didn’t text back…. maybe he is busy at work
- I got a D on my assignment; it was really difficult I’ll have to study better next time
Do you see the difference in thoughts? Once you start catching yourself in these negative trains of thought that’s when the training begins. You literally have to redirect your mind back to reality and positivity.
And it may look something like this…..
*boyfriend does not text back for 4 hours*
Me: what could he possibly be doing
Me: I hope he’s not talking to another girl or even worse cheating on me
REDIRECT YOUR MIND
Me: hmm. you know he’s at work maybe he is having a busy day
Me: I know I barely have time to text every 2 hours at work so ill just wait until later in the day to talk to him.
By providing your mind with an alternative solution to your “problem” (boyfriend not texting back) you are able to change your mindset to something more realistic and less stressful. Doing this forces your brain to move on and not ponder on the issue. It is difficult to do at first and you may have to fight with your mind a little but in time you will retrain your brain to not think so negatively.
2 | Unexplained Aches and Pains
Do you ever just have extreme neck pain and tension? Do you feel sore even though you have done nothing to be sore? Do you feel like you need to stretch constantly or pop your neck or do something to make the aching feeling go away?
Yeah it sucks because aching muscles are very distracting. Before I started working on my anxiety symptoms, I would always need to crack my neck and I would also have to get out of bed to just stretch because everything felt so tense like I could never relax.
I started researching and even brought it to the attention of my therapist and what they told me was MINDBLOWING.
So, when your struggling with anxiety your body is constantly going in and out of “fight or flight mode”, which is our bodies natural response to dangerous and threatening situations. This comes in handy when you are in a potentially dangerous situation BUT when you have anxiety you brain cannot correctly identify a dangerous situation and basically starts
triggering random things as dangerous.
Okay Kenya… so what does this have to do with my muscle aches and pains?
One of your body’s natural physical response to danger or “fight or flight mode” is to tense up your muscles. Unfortunately, when you suffer from anxiety you can stay in “fight or flight mode” without even knowing and the constant tension of muscles throughout the day and the week is what causes the aches and pains.
That’s why you feel like you are never able to truly relax …. Your body is constantly tensing up due to the stress and anxiety.
What I had to start doing is forcing myself to concentrate on relaxation and what better way to do that than good ol’ meditation. Spending some time to just chill and really tune into yourself in a positive way is really relaxing and you can literally feel your body shutting down haha.
What I like to do once I get settled at home is just lay on my back in bed and focus on breathing and relaxing my muscles. There is a really amazing free app called Calm (do not pay for it , it has a free option)that has some really good breathing exercises that will put you STRAIGHT to sleep WITHOUT the horrible aches and pains that keep you up all night.
Related Post | Meditation for Depression and Anxiety
3 | Nausea and Poor Appetite
Nausea was unfortunately a symptom that I experienced quite frequently. Due to being so anxious and on edge I would wake up in the morning sick to my stomach and just worried. I was in a horrible mental space and my anxiety had spiraled out of control.
I had lost almost 25 pounds unintentionally because I was so anxious and nauseated, I was unable to eat. I would eat one small meal a day to survive and spend majority of the day feeling too uneasy to even nourish my body…. and I LOVE FOOD …. But for whatever reason I was so anxious my stomach was always in knots.
Why does this happen?
Your stomach actually has a ton of nerves just like your brain. When you become anxious similar hormones and chemicals are released in your tummy and disturb your digestive system. When your digestive system is disturbed well …. You know what happens there “upset stomach, diarrhea and indigestion” Pepto Bismol said it the best.
The best way to combat this is to spend time relaxing. In the mornings, when I would wake up anxious and sick to my stomach, I would lay on my back and just breathe slowly and use the Calm App (the free version is the phone app) to bring me back to a level mind. You will notice that as you relax your body your mind and your tummy can relax too.
So, drink some water and when your tummy is feeling uneasy remember to relax your breathing, relax your body and your mind and stomach will follow.
Boy oh boy am I a night owl and not because I want to be … I have a job you know? And going to bed at 5am doesn’t exactly help me feel refreshed to go to work 4 hours later.
So, what is the deal?
Did you know that most people with anxiety are in bed by 12am but lie awake IN BED until 2am or even later? That means that you’re trying to fall asleep because you KNOW you should be sleep but for whatever reason you’re AWAKE.
Oh yeah that’s insomnia my friend and it is a mean anxiety symptom that keeps you up all night and makes you feel fatigued throughout the day.
Usually the reason you are lying awake is because your brain is still on. You have to turn it off so you can drift into sleep.
I know you’re getting tired of me telling you to just breathe and meditate but SERIOUSLY it really does help. When I first started working on my anxiety, I had to stop MULTIPLE times a day and just breathe so my mind can relax. It is a valuable skill and can really help you get to sleep.
So once again to help me get to sleep sooner I use the Calm App (the free version is the phone app) hahaha it really is so peaceful and as I’m lying there breathing slowly, listening to the apps guided meditation I can actually feel the tension release from my muscles and my body literally feels like its shutting down into ULTIMATE relaxation and SLEEP .
5 | Difficulty Concentrating and Staying Focused
My boyfriend is always making fun of me because he says when I talk I literally with start with ONE story and end up never finishing the first story but starting THREE new stories within that one story.
Wait what? Does that, make sense?
Haha basically I could NOT stay on topic my mind was just bouncing around from topic to topic without completing the original topic.
This is what happens when you have anxiety. Not necessarily jumping from topic to topic like me but your brain struggles with concentrating because you are overthinking and worrying about SOOO many things.
When was the last time you caught yourself doing something and dozing off into DEEP thought and a worried mindset?
One day at work I got so caught up in my own worries in my head that I did not even hear the customer in my ear talking (I work in a call center). I do this quite often throughout the day and it’s because my mind will wonder into deep thoughts.
What usually helps me stay focused during the day is journaling. I spend about 10-20 minutes a day writing out my thoughts and creating plans for things I’m worried about that way when I start thinking about it again, I already have a solution.
For example, I create a budget very frequently and I consistently check my account and plan my bills because I KNOW it’s something that I will worry about all day long if I don’t have a plan set up.
Creating plans and organizing your thoughts on paper is an AWESOME way to get ahead of the stress and the worry. When your brain starts to worry about things just remind yourself that you have already created a good plan and that the situation is already resolved.
It will change your focus level because you can keep your mind on task by not overthinking and worrying about things that are not urgent.
Whoa this post was very difficult to write because I had to share some of my personal anxieties. That’s the best part about it though you are not alone in your battle with anxiety and there are multiple communities of people that struggle with it just like you.
I do recommend talking with a licensed physician about these concerns because there may be other resources that can really help you like support groups and we all hate to say it but even medication. You don’t have to take medication, but you should definitely research about it or talk to a doctor to see if it is something that can help you. Especially if your anxiety is extreme and really impairing your life.
I hate that in this post I was so redundant with meditation and relaxation but really it is important, because it allows your body to process your day and your thoughts. Sitting down and relaxing your body and mind really helps build your self awareness and helps you catch yourself in those times of negativity and bring yourself back to a positive and realistic mindset.
Once you can teach yourself tricks to help YOU relax and calm down you will notice a lot of the negative thoughts and symptoms are not present because you have trained your brain to be more positive and not react to everything negatively that happens. This only means that you are on step closer to mental freedom and you are one step closer to conquering or at least managing your anxiety.
Did you like this post? Do you have any tips on how to manage anxiety? If so comment below we would love to hear 😀