The problem with anxiety is that most people don’t recognise when they are experiencing anxiety until the symptoms become intense and consistent; by that time the anxiety has increased to an extremely uncomfortable level and physical symptoms are present too. In fact for most people it isn’t until physical symptoms become known that there is any clear indication that all is not well. Even then people don’t tend to marry the symptoms with anxiety or stress.
The brain’s working components are already well underway by the time you have consciously recognised any signs.The brain has already taken visual and audible cues and began a system of checking and measuring and releasing the safeguarding chemicals in order to help protect you and prepare you to run, freeze or fight. One part of your brain is responsible for allowing the fight, flight or freeze response to stay on high alert for log periods of time – the Stria terminalis. When the stria terminalis doesn’t switch off the anxiety (fear of something which isn’t happening in actual time and space).
So how do you recognise when anxiety starts to creep up on you?
If you seem constantly weary, suffer from aching muscles and feeling listless it’s because you are on high alert most of the time. Being on high alert means you are producing too much cortisol for too long a period. Cortisol lowers the production of the hormones you need to keep a healthy hormone balance and fatigue is a result.
Having trouble going to sleep and/or waking in the night and being unable to go back to sleep are classic signs of anxiety. The high levels of cortisol which you are producing lower your production of melatonin which is the hormone you need to help you sleep.
3. Physical symptoms
Headaches, digestive issues (IBS, constipation), skin disorders, tinnitus, allergies and asthma episodes, constant colds and sore throats are key indicators of stress and anxiety . Because your immune system is being eroded by stress hormones you are less able to fight off illnesses, viruses and diseases. Serotonin, the brain’s calming neurotransmitter, is mainly produced in the gastrointestinal tract. Lack of serotonin results in irritable bowel symptoms.
4. Lack of clarity
Not able to concentrate or focus is a very common sign you are in fight or flight mode. In fight or flight mode our vision narrows and so does our awareness and concentration, everything outside our immediate situation; spatial and consciousness awareness is not paramount so you may find you overlook things, have trouble concentrating and are easily distracted.
5. Being forgetful
Losing your keys, double booking appointments, forgetting to attend appointments are all signs that you have levels of stress, anxiety and pressure present. As with lack of clarity, the fight or flight mode keeps you from being present, in the moment. Instead you are on high alert, looking out for whatever danger your subconscious is looking out for and therefore not noticing what is around you and what actions you need to take.
6. Muscle aches
Joints and muscles may ache and when pushed you may notice pain. Stress causes us to tense our muscles in preparation for fight or flight, particularly the shoulders, neck and lower back
7. Being snappy and irritable
Anxiety and stress can make us feel angry, short tempered and irritable. Being in fight or flight means we can’t give attention to others, we can’t focus on others’ needs so we dismiss their attention by firing a warning shot through being snappy, short or rude.
8. Comfort eating
Away from pain towards pleasure. Comfort eating provides us with a bit of a boost when we are feeling down or fearing. Unfortunately the comfort is short term and if we don’t address the root cause of the pain which is causing the anxiety or stress then we reach for another chocolate bar or biscuit time and time again.
9. You are suffering from unexplained infertility
When the subconscious detects a stressful situation it sets of the alarm system, the Hypothalamus reacts immediately by sending messages to the pituitary gland and the adrenal glands, these glands send the stress hormones to prepare the body for fight or flight (Sympathetic Nervous System), shutting down non critical functions including reproductive systems. On going stress (and production of stress hormones) disrupts the activity of progesterone, inhibit implantation of the fertilised egg and prevent ovulation thinning of the uterine wall lining. In addition, the chemical imbalances also serve to decrease the sex drive in both males and females.
Make a permanent change
The stress and anxiety often runs consistently at a low level, always there producing hormones which cause the discomfort, poor health and weariness you may now recognise. There are many short term fixes which can help you through such exercise, 7/11 breathing, meditation, healthy eating and sleeping remedies; in my opinion the longer term, permanent solution is to engage with a professional qualified and experienced therapist.
Another major factor is to ensure that any unmet emotional needs are addressed. We often shy away from seeking to address these needs. Fear is the most common cause; a good therapist will help you move forward and help you overcome fears, feel positive and more confident.
I have helped 100’s of people discover the root cause of their stress and anxiety. I can assure you chronic anxiety and stress does not have much to do with your everyday life, although everyday life tends exacerbate the underlying stresses. The underlying stresses are caused by core beliefs held subconsciously developed through early experiences. I can help you change your negative core beliefs and create new neural pathways. Your mind and body will create the feel good hormones such serotonin, dopamine and endorphins, cortisol and adealine will become regulated and the anxiety, stress and panic attacks will decrease significantly. Many of my clients testify that life gets easier and better after a few short sessions.