The Truth Behind Anxiety


What does anxiety feel like? Many describe it as a racing heart. I have heard of numerous cases of people going to the hospital with a racing heart, while worrying about it being a heart-attack, but being sent home with a diagnosis of a panic attack or also known as, anxiety.

To me, anxiety is so much more evolved. Yes, anxiety causes me to have a racing heart, but if you really pay attention to your symptoms, there are others that arenโ€™t as distinctive or obvious. You should pay attention to the other symptoms as well.

First, when I am anxious, I first notice it by my lack of focus. Staying focused on simple tasks, such as working, cleaning, or reading, may become difficult. You may read the same paragraph in your book several times before realizing that you are not getting very far into your story. You may start cleaning the kitchen and find that you have wandered off to the bedroom performing another task, while leaving the one started in the kitchen forgotten. It isnโ€™t an attention deficient or hyperactivity, that is occurring. What is happening is that my mind is trying to distract myself from what is really bothering me or causing me to be anxious. Needless to say, this distraction creates more havoc and distress at the time, but the mind is simply trying to distract us.

Listen to your body symptoms as well. You will see that your heart his racing, your hands may have become clammy, and you have a tightness in your throat. It is important to take a few deep breaths, recognize the symptoms, and be patient with yourself. When I become distracted, I make myself a list of what I need to accomplish for the next hour or day. This helps me to keep my mind focused on the tasks needing to be completed. A visual stimulation draws the mind back to focus, allowing me to follow through with the items I need to complete. Make sure your written list is reasonable and simple because if you put too much on your list, you will be overwhelmed and disappointed with yourself for not finishing the list. The other positive component to making a written list, is that it will also give you a sense of completion. You completed what you set out to do and this is always a good feeling.

Second, I often feel dizzy or light-headed when anxiety is coming on. This is due to my heart racing and the blood going quicker than normal to my head. When this happens, it is important to stay hydrated and sit down for a bit, take several slow, deep breaths, and slow down your breathing.

Third, this symptom is less obvious than the others. A lot of times I am hyper-focused on worrying about something bad that may or may not happen. This is due to my past traumas. I have found that I am a preventer and planner. What I mean by this is that when Iโ€™m in a stressful situation, I will plan out in my head the best possible solution to prevent more anxiety from occurring. An example of this is prevention. Let me explain. I will always try to put myself in a situation that will allow me the least amount of stress. Such as if something bad happens to me, I will create a positive scenario to replace the negative action. This may sound like a positive thing, and it may be, however, what I am really doing is alleviating the stress and panic that is starting to creep up into my chest and mind, preventing myself from having a full-blown panic attack. Diverting my attention away from the negative situation and replacing it with a positive scenario. Even though the possibility of it ever occurring is slim, it calms my mind down and saves me from a panic attack.

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