Anxiety Symptoms: Recognizing Signs of Anxiety
Everyone knows what it feels like to experience a rush of anxiety symptoms. Your stomach twists and turns and sweat begins to bead on your forehead before getting in front of your entire management team to give a presentation. Or you begin to tremble before approaching your boss to ask for a promotion or raise. Almost everyone has felt the icy fingers of fear creeping up his or her spine when caught in a dark parking lot or street after dark.
Recognizing Signs of Anxiety
Recognizing signs of anxiety before your nervousness and other symptoms of anxiety get out of hand can help you reduce their intensity. (in-depth info on anxiety attacks starts here) Typically, anxiety symptoms can fit into one of two categories: physical symptoms and emotional symptoms.
Physical symptoms of anxiety include physical reactions to the stress that others could notice. Emotional anxiety symptoms would include reactions to stress or a challenging situation that people on the outside usually cannot detect.
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety:
- Nausea or dizziness
- Frequent need to urinate
- Diarrhea not caused by illness
- Rapid heartbeat and breathing
- Muscle tension
Emotional Anxiety Symptoms:
- Feelings of dread
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling tense and jittery
- Anticipating the worst outcome
- Over-alertness for signs of danger
- Feelings of apprehension
- Feeling as if your mind has gone blank
For some, the level of anxiety escalates to the point where they have an anxiety attack. Here's information on anxiety attack treatment.
How Can You Reduce Anxiety Symptoms?
One way to treat anxiety is to face your worries and apprehension associated with upcoming challenges in advance to reduce anxiety symptoms. Perhaps your boss asked you to deliver a speech to a large group of prospects or executives in two weeks – or you have a doctor visit scheduled several days from now at which your doctor will order specific lab tests because of symptoms you've been having. You may not feel anxious about the event yet, so this is the perfect time to face the nervousness and fears that you know will come as the big date approaches.
Keep a worry journal. Think about an upcoming event that you know will stir up anxious feelings and negative thoughts. Write down any negative thoughts, worries, and fears that crop up as a result of thinking about the event. Include your fears about what could go wrong, worst outcomes, and physical symptoms that occur just prior to challenges that result in anxiety for you. Writing feelings and worries down is harder work than simply thinking about them. As you write them down, these negative thought patterns lose some of their power to control you.
Set aside a worry time. Look over your daily schedule and pick two 10 to 15 minute worry periods for each day. Make it the same time each day. For example, you can set aside 10 minutes each morning at 7:00 a.m. and 10 minutes each afternoon at 3:00 p.m. – whatever works best for you, but keep to the same worry schedule everyday and strictly monitor the time allowed to worry. During this time, you can focus on your fears and worries without trying to "fix" them.
The rest of the day, however, must be worry free. If you feel anxious during the day, or if negative thoughts invade, record them in a notebook and put off thinking about them until your next worry period.
Accept the uncertainties of life. Worrying about all the things that could go wrong (or right, for that matter) in life doesn't make life any more predictable. Learn to enjoy the here and now – the good things going on in your life right now. Learning to accept uncertainty will help you overcome many of your anxiety symptoms.
Fear – The Root Symptom of Anxiety
Fear, a very common symptom of anxiety, dissipates and loses its power when faced head-on. The other signs of anxiety, listed above will follow suit when addressed prior to your upcoming challenges or stress-inducing event. Anxiety symptoms, although not pleasant, are normal provided they're short-lived and don't overwhelm you to the point of preventing you from engaging in daily activities.
Last Updated: 29 June 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD