Anxiety is Not All in your Mind

If you think anxiety is all in your mind, you’re wrong. While it may start there, the physical symptoms of anxiety can run rampant through your body.

Anxiety is a psychological condition that can produce very real, physical symptoms, such as:

  • Rapid heartbeat (likely the most common symptom)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Shaking and trembling in your limbs
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting (vomiting is associated with severe anxiety)

Anxiety is categorized as common or severe. You’ve probably experienced a case of nerves from time to time, with your heart racing or hands trembling. These are symptoms of common anxiety. It’s uncomfortable and unpleasant, but the symptoms won’t kill you. With severe anxiety, your nausea may lead to vomiting. And instead of an occasional bout of nerves, the anxiety can be persistent which, over time, can cause long-term stress on your body.

While some of us may need antacids and over-the-counter pain relievers to medically address anxiety, many of us can diminish these uncomfortable feelings with simple changes to our lifestyle.

Go to bed- Start by getting more zzz’s, as you may be more physically exhausted than you suspect. When we’re sleep deprived, we won’t handle the common stresses in life as well as we would after a good night’s sleep. Most people need at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If you’ve always believed you only need five or six hours, do yourself a favor and go to bed earlier and see if you don’t feel better. If this sounds difficult, cut the caffeine. If you can’t live without your coffee, try limiting it and only drink it prior to lunch. Caffeine is a stimulant, which is great if you want to wake up, but delayed consumption can be quite disruptive to your sleep patterns. Furthermore, too much caffeine can make you jittery, which is one of the symptoms you’re trying to reduce.

Get moving- Try getting some exercise on a daily basis. The new medical guidelines call for 150 minutes of cardio activity a week. Not only would 30 minutes of activity a day improve your heart function, but it would also release endorphins and exercise your muscles, both of which can reduce anxiety.

Have some fun- Make sure you take time for fun in your life. All work and no play isn’t a healthy balance for anyone. Be sure you are doing something you call fun every week – whether it’s working on a hobby, entertaining friends or catching up on your favorite TV show. Furthermore, consider trying out new relaxing practices, like yoga, meditation or simply soaking in a bubble bath!

Organize your environment- If yours is a cluttered environment, clean it up. An unorganized, cluttered home or office space can actually cause hassle – and it’s one of the easiest stressors to correct. When you walk through the front door to find a cluttered mess, it is common to feel:

  • Guilt – because you know you should be more organized
  • A feeling of being overwhelmed – thinking you can never get on top of this mess
  • A sense of tiredness – your day isn’t over because you should be tackling the mess
  • Embarrassment – because you don’t want people to know you live like this

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of tackling a mountain of clothes and junk, remind yourself that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Commit to cleaning 20 minutes a day, and that mess will be gone in no time. Furthermore, limit the chaos by making sure that everything has a place to be stored and is easy to find so you don’t have to frantically rip apart your living area to find a shoe or your keys as you rush out the door.

Avoid unrealistic expectations of yourself- We often jam our days full of errands and responsibilities and quiver with fear at the idea of failure. Unfortunately, there are many factors that are outside of our control, including our own, physical and emotional capabilities. With there being only so many hours in the day, it is crucial that you acknowledge and listen to when your body is informing you that you’ve hit your limits so you don’t overextend yourself. Furthermore, do not regard mistakes as devastating failures but, rather, as learning opportunities. Above all else, be kind to yourself!

If you find that these lifestyle changes are having no impact or the anxiety is becoming crippling, it is advisable to consult with a medical professional.

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