How Does Anxiety Feel?

Anxiety feels different for every person that experiences it, and causes minor to serious problems for a healthy portion of the population. High levels of anxiety or chronic anxiety when untreated causes a measured detriment to your mental wellbeing, ability to work, maintain relationships and enjoy your leisure time.

Dealing with anxiety is far different than dealing with the stresses of daily life. Facing stress means you are facing a deadline for work or school, anticipating an upcoming date, event or party, or even watching a suspenseful movie that does a great job of applying creative tension within the plot. When you are a facing stress, your body reacts physiologically to help you overcome the perceived challenge that is causing the stress – it might make you concentrate a little harder, react a little faster or pay a little more attention to that movie to figure out what’s going on.

In a lot of cases, the right type of stress brings you short-term benefits and your ability to “buckle down” when under stress can make you a highly functional person.

Here is where Anxiety comes into play

Anxiety operates a bit differently, and the effect it has on your body and mind creates much more effects than stress. Anxiety is when stress or worry becomes excessive to the point that it negatively affects your perceptions and ability to cope with everyday “normal” stresses. Unlike stress, anxiety brings no physiological benefits to or short-term positive reactions from your body.

Left unaddressed, anxiety can continue to impact your daily life as well as your long-term health and wellbeing. The symptoms of anxiety go beyond the sweaty palms and butterflies in your stomach that you feel when you are facing stress. Here’s what you deal with when you’re struggling with anxiety.

  • Excessive or persistent worrying
  • Feelings of irritability
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Fatigue
  • Consistent headaches
  • Muscle tension and restlessness
  • Nausea and/or abdominal cramps
  • Hyper-arousal, including sweating or heart palpitations
  • Difficulty sleeping

These physical manifestations can add up and can feed each other, increasing the pressure on you until you feel like you’re in a downward spiral. Headaches or difficulty concentrating can make you have a harder time at work, muscle tension can lead to you avoiding exercise, insomnia can ruin your sleep quality, and nausea causes mayhem with your appetite, which can lead to increasing fatigue.

Dealing with these type of symptoms is not good for your body. Persistent or chronic anxiety has been shown to be linked to high blood pressure, poor heart health and coronary artery disease.

Relating to Anxiety – Visual Metaphors

Let’s face it, some people associate concepts with ideas more effectively when they use pictures rather than words. If you’re having trouble understanding the way anxiety feels by our words, then think of anxiety as like a tangled or knotted ball of yarn, or a tangled and knotted old rope.

The intricate and chaotic nature of the tangled knot represents the complex and overwhelming feelings that anxiety can bring. Each strand of the rope or yarn represents the chaos of all of your worries, fears and thoughts being intertwined, making it hard to find a clear pathway. This is by far the best way to show the sense of entanglement, restlessness and the challenges of managing that anxiety.

The tangle is a good representation of how your days and nights feel when you are trapped in a cycle of anxiety.

How Do You Treat Anxiety

You treat anxiety by learning how to overcome the chaos of feelings and by becoming skilled in using tools that help you deal with the causes of your anxiety. This is not something you should attempt to do alone.

Talk therapy can help you uncover the underlying causes of your worries and fears and helps you learn to relax. Our licensed counselors and therapists see patients regularly for assistance in dealing with anxiety. This means we help people learn to look at situations in new, less frightening ways, and to develop better coping and problem-solving methods that they can use in daily life. Here is how one of our counselors explains how to tackle anxiety.

Whether you’re suffering from panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, incapacitating worries or a terrifying phobia, it’s important to understand that you don’t need to live with anxiety and fear forever. We are here to help you uncover the root causes of your worries, fears and anxieties. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to therapy for anxiety, but you will most likely see significant improvements within a cycle of therapy sessions.

The goal of therapy is to uncover underlying causes and traumas that are creating the anxiety, versus using anxiety medication to just treat the symptoms your body is facing.

We can help. Integrative Health Services of Birmingham

Integrative Health Services, LLC is dedicated to providing expert counseling services in the Birmingham area. With a collective experience of over 60 years, our team of licensed counselors and clinical social worker brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to every client we serve. Our reputation as trusted professionals extends far and wide, as we come highly recommended by respected clinicians, lawyers, and physicians within our community.

We are available via telehealth virtual appointments throughout Alabama and have office locations in both the northern and southern areas of Birmingham in Pelham and Gardendale.