According to the mental health charity, Mind 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in England. Personally, I think the term ‘mental health’ has stigma surrounding it and prefer to refer to it as emotional health. We are all responsible for taking better care of our physical and emotional health; that includes recognising and responding to signs of problems such as anxiety. Below is a list of 5 symptoms of anxiety that are less widely reported to help you identify them.
The problem is that many of these symptoms, originating in the Autonomic Nervous System, are ignored or not associated with emotional health issues. This can lead to people feeling out of sorts without understanding why. Without that knowledge, how can action be taken?
So, what are these symptoms? let’s dive in:
1: Difficulty concentrating – If you’re having trouble concentrating, focusing on things or having incoherent thoughts, even if you’re getting good sleep, it can be frustrating but is a sign of anxiety! People who have anxiety are often suffering because their brains are preoccupied with past events or anticipating the future, which makes it difficult to concentrate on being present in the moment.
2: Tense Muscles – Worry might seem like a mental activity, but it has a physical impact and often affects how you are holding yourself. Subconsciously holding yourself in a protective position can cause muscle tension and stiffness or muscle pain. It can even take hours for them to relax after an anxious moment!
“You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you.” – Dan Millman
3: Restlessness – Similarly to tense muscles, when your mind cannot find peace, it can manifest into physical restlessness. If you find yourself constantly moving, bouncing your legs, biting your nails or pacing rooms, you’re experiencing restlessness.
4: Digestive Issues – The fight-or-flight response associated with anxiety can wreak havoc on your digestive system in a number of ways. If you experience out of the blue nausea, excessive gas or diarrhoea around things you’re nervous about, such as interviews or meeting new people, it’s a sign that you are experiencing anxiety. Your body tries to shut down the digestive system to prioritise other areas of your body which triggers the problems.
5: Cold Hands and Feet – Having cold hands or cold feet is often immediately associated with poor circulation, but have you ever wondered why that is? When our bodies are anxious, and the fight-or-flight response kicks in, our body directs blood to our vital organs as protection and away from our hands and feet, which is why we feel cold.
Learning to better identify when our bodies and autonomic nervous systems are off can help us find and maintain better emotional health, and where needed, seek help.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms but are still unsure if you’re suffering from anxiety, please get in touch for a confidential chat.