When it comes to anxiety, you may be familiar with emotional symptoms such as uncontrollable worry, fear, and negative thoughts. However, anxiety can cause physical symptoms that impact your health as well. This is because anxiety serves as your body’s way of preparing to act quickly, the “fight” or “flight” response. These reactions are normal in many situations where you perceive danger. With anxiety, these reactions occur in situations where you are not physically threatened.
Common physical symptoms of anxiety include:
- Increased heart rate
- Quick, shallow breaths
- Increased adrenaline
- Muscle aches and increased muscle tension
- Upset stomach
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Increased perspiration
- Chest pains
By managing your anxiety, you can help manage the physical symptoms that may have a larger negative impact on your health. Because anxiety has both a physical and mental component, consider these tips to help decrease your symptoms:
- Relax — When you feel anxious, call a timeout. Whether this is 30 seconds or 10 minutes, taking time to concentrate on your breath, visualize a peaceful place, or do something you enjoy can help reduce your symptoms of anxiety.
- Challenge your thinking — Negative thought cycles perpetuate the physical symptoms of anxiety. It is important to challenge your negative thought patterns to decrease the experience of anxiety. Acknowledge when you are engaging in negative self-talk, examine the keywords that you’re thinking and stop to ask if these thoughts are helping or hurting you. Our thoughts influence our moods, and turning negative statements to positive ones can make a big difference in the way a situation or person is perceived.
- Be healthy and active — Being active is good for your mind and body. The brain releases chemicals that make you feel good. Simple changes in your day can increase your activity level and decrease your anxiety. Healthy sleep habits also can contribute to reduced anxiety. Set a good routine, going to bed and waking at the same time, and be sure to restrict the time in bed to sleeping (no eating, watching tv, reading, etc)
- Be social — Play and spend time with others. Recharging your battery with pleasurable activities and by spending time with family and friends. Discover what activities or hobbies relax you.
If anxiety becomes unmanageable or interferes with your ability to function in daily life, you may benefit from seeing a licensed psychologist. If you continue to struggle with anxiety after several sessions with a psychologist, your provider may recommend seeing a psychiatrist for medication management. Medication can help lessen anxiety which can help you effectively use the skills that the psychologist is working on with you.
Non-Medicare Iron Road members have access to mental health visits with Doctor On Demand. Visit https://www.doctorondemand.com/ to schedule an appointment today.