Anxiety makes our bodies and minds do, see and think things that may or may not be true. Your body takes on a life of it’s own. Your mind goes off stomping through the worst case scenarios grasping at each one, building the fear and anxiety as it goes.
Although it feels like anxiety is always in control, this is often the point that anxiety truly takes control. Prior to this, it is our fear of what we think will happen when the anxiety kicks in that controls us.
Anxiety kidnaps your senses. It blinds you with fear and blurs your understanding of the situation. It makes you believe the worst. It doesn’t allow you time to think sensibly and it makes your fears seem absolutely real. There is no time to challenge your thoughts as you are fighting the anxiety’s perception of a threat. Anxiety bombards you with intense feelings, emotions and thoughts. The anxiety makes you act irrationally in panic because you can’t see a safe way out. You can’t make good decisions. Your body feels like it is on high alert at all times, always feeling unsafe and struggling to find ways to cope with these feelings.
Knowing what makes you feel anxious (triggers) will help you better understand how to manage your anxiety.
Everyone’s experience of ‘triggers’ is different even if they are anxious in similar situations. Some triggers will be obvious but there may be times when you feel anxious but can’t figure out why. Once you recognise your triggers, you will start to see the Signs and Symptoms early. A Symptom is how the anxiety affects you, and the Signs are how you and your body behave.
A good way to help you take control of your anxiety is to start to recognise and acknowledge the early signs and symptoms. Take some time to allow yourself to feel what you feel in your physical body as well as emotionally.
There are physical experiences too, because of how anxiety can affect your body’s responses. These may be going to the toilet a lot, not able to sleep properly, sweaty hands, fast-beating heart, headaches or stomach pains, shaking, feeling very hot or very cold, feeling as if you are short of breath or breathing too fast. Maybe you have a headache, maybe your body shakes, maybe you feel sick or something else altogether.
Withdrawing from social occasions, and avoiding other people, not wanting to go out or to socialise, talking yourself into doing it or out of doing things are experiences you may find familiar. You may feel a sense of emotional overload – angry, sad, disappointed, frustrated, desperation, intense worry, confusion.
How your anxiety affects you is individual to you and how you manage it will also be unique to you.
Understanding yourself and your anxiety is the first step to taking control.