What Anxiety Feels Like to Me and How I've Learned to Cope

May 19, 2020 Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

Anxiety feels like different things to different people. I think it is important to talk about anxiety because, even in this day and age where there is more information about mental health out there and it has become the topic of broader conversations, it seems that there is often still a stigma attached. One of the things I have been very passionate about has been talking about what anxiety feels like to me and sharing what I go through, in the hopes that others can relate and can find comfort in knowing that they are not alone.

In my life, I have become accustomed to living with anxiety. Depending on my current life situation and the experiences I'm going through, it might be worse, or it might be better.

What Anxiety Feels Like to Me

Sometimes, anxiety is expected. During these times, I can prepare myself for anxiety symptoms and begin going through my checklist of coping strategies. Sometimes, it happens without warning. Those are the worst times because I feel as though I have no control over it.

When anxiety happens without warning, anxiety feels like a physical attack. The first thing I feel is my heart racing. Next, I break out into a sweat. This is probably one of the worst parts of it because I know it is visible to others. Then, I often start to tremble, and I have a hard time focusing. By this point, I feel very on edge, and my stomach feels unsettled. If I am in a social situation, such as at a restaurant, I will have a hard time eating or drinking because I feel nauseous. This is what anxiety feels like to me.

I describe the physical symptoms of anxiety because I think it is important to remember that anxiety is the body's response to stressful situations. The intensity and duration of symptoms may vary, and some may experience chronic anxiety over a long period of time, to the extent that it interferes with daily activities. When this happens, the person may be experiencing an anxiety disorder. Seeking professional help may be important in these situations.

They Wouldn't Tell Me What to Do If They Knew What Anxiety Feels Like

There have been many times throughout my life that I have been told that I just needed to "calm down" or that it is "all in my head." But why do they do that, when I know -- as we all know -- that anxiety is a very real thing? My chronic anxiety has been something that has impacted the decisions I have made. It has impacted my relationships with others and even aspects of my professional life. Perhaps I have not been vocal enough about what I go through, and so others do not realize how difficult my symptoms can be to deal with.

Steps for Dealing When Anxiety Feels Like an Attack

In a world full of increasing stimuli and potential triggers of anxiety -- such as loud noises, large crowds, and now, experiences related to COVID-19 -- it is important that we recognize symptoms and when they indicate something chronic, beyond the situation that one is currently experiencing.

  1. Recognize that the symptoms exist. I've described some of the symptoms that I experience, and it is not going to be the same for everyone. Recognizing the symptoms allows you to take specific measures to deal with them.
  2. Recognize triggers. Be aware of some factors that trigger your anxiety. Thes could include environmental triggers and even food. For example, I know that it is important for me to be aware of my caffeine intake because it exacerbates my anxiety.
  3. Be mindful of specific strategies that help. Whether it is exercise, journaling, deep breathing, or other strategies, using what is effective for you is important for long-term management.

What does anxiety feel like to you? Are there certain strategies that you have found to be helpful fo you and your unique experiences? Share them in the comments below.

APA Reference
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2020, May 19). What Anxiety Feels Like to Me and How I've Learned to Cope, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

Lizanne Corbit
May, 19 2020 at 1:35 pm

I love that you made the point to identify the physical symptoms as a reminder of the fact that it's the body's response. This is absolutely true and when we take a moment to pause and observe that we can feel less attacked and more grounded. Our anxiety is something that can actually be seen as a teacher and a guide when we give ourselves the tools and space to see it that way. Wonderful read.

May, 19 2020 at 3:00 pm

Hi Lizanne,
I appreciate you sharing your thoughts! It is such a great point that the symptoms we experience can serve as guidance and provide us with beneficial information for coping.
Thank you for reading! Hope you are safe and well.

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