Heightened Anxiety for No Reason? Four Ways to Handle It
Thursday, September 10 2015 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
Living with anxiety is frustrating, and it becomes even more so when we find ourselves experiencing heightened anxiety for no reason. We’re living along, using the anxiety management tips we've learned so we're not overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, and making joy in our days. Everything is coming up roses, and we’re enjoying the rose garden.
Then bam! Where there were roses, now there are thorns. Compounding this very unpleasant turn from low stress to heightened anxiety is the fact that it’s mysterious. We shouldn’t be experiencing anxiety, but we are. When you find yourself experiencing heightened anxiety for no reason, you might want to try these four ways to handle it.
Heightened Anxiety for No Reason is Real
Anxiety causes aren't always easy to figure out. Just because we don’t know where it came from, that doesn’t mean that anxiety is any less real.
Sometimes, the rose garden we’re frolicking through is just the way we want it to be, yet we suddenly experience heightened anxiety. Tension, chest pains, headaches, digestive troubles, aches and pains, racing thoughts, and more return with a vengeance. We want it to stop, but how do we fix it when anxiety is heightened for no reason? Here are four ways to manage vague, intense anxiety.
Four Ways to Handle Heightened Anxiety When There’s no Reason for It
Step Away, Even from the Good
Sometimes we put a great deal of pressure on ourselves, telling ourselves things like I love doing this, so I shouldn’t be stressed. If you’re pressuring yourself with shoulds and should nots, notice it and switch directions for a while. Take a short break, even just 10-15 minutes, to change scenery and get in a little bit of movement.
Discover What Puts You at Ease, and Be Intentional About Doing It
When you find yourself having heightened anxiety even though there’s no reason for it, it’s important to do things in the moment that you know help put you at ease. Have an anxiety toolbox that includes things that are simple and portable. Things such as a stress relieving tea, an inspirational playlist, a screensaver on your phone with an encouraging image or quote, a favorite wristband that serves as a reminder of what you love, or a favorite book are just a few things you can use to calm anxiety when it appears out of nowhere.
Remind Yourself Why You Love What You're Doing
Even though anxiety intensified seemingly out of the blue, your rose garden is there for a reason. Rather than ruminating over why you’re anxious, turn your attention to the good in your life. Why do you love certain things? What’s going well? Repeat these positive facts to yourself frequently to shift your thoughts away from heightened anxiety.
Sometimes the best thing to do for heightened anxiety that appears for no reason is absolutely nothing at all. If you use your anxiety management tools and techniques but find them ineffective, perhaps it’s best to back off. Remind yourself that things truly are going well, and then accept this obnoxious anxiety as it is. Breathe into it, and concentrate more on what you’re doing rather than how anxious you’re feeling. In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, “Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
When we’re suddenly hit with heightened anxiety for no reason, it’s okay to feel frustrated by it. Take heart, though, because you can take charge of your anxiety. It won’t last forever.