What anxiety feels like to me

Counselling Directory team member Kat talks about the way anxiety affects her.

While illnesses like depression and anxiety are becoming increasingly more common and recognised, they affect everyone differently. I suffer from minor bouts of anxiety from time to time, but recently I have honed my ability to recognise my symptoms and therefore feel more able to help myself. Recognising my symptoms early enables me to look after myself before things get out of hand and for the time being I have been able to do this through self-care. Here is what anxiety feels like to me:

I feel nauseous.

Physically, I feel anxiety in my stomach the most. I have a permanent knot in my stomach, have 'butterflies' and feel very sick. It’s like I’m nervous about something, but I can’t put my finger on it.

I suffer from nightmares

This is quite a new symptom for me. My most recent bout of anxiety saw me having five nightmares in one night, with me waking after each one. This broken sleep made the following day at work difficult and heightened my other anxiety symptoms.

I ruminate

A simple conversation from the day can go round and round in my head for hours. I will re-live it wondering if I said the right thing, or if I misunderstood something. I will worry that someone is annoyed with me or that I’ve upset someone with a flippant comment.

My head ‘buzzes’

My thoughts will be rushing around so quickly that I’ll feel as if my head is actually buzzing. Slowing down my thinking and switching off is my biggest challenge when I feel anxious.

I lose confidence

I stop believing in myself, second-guessing everything I do. This is usually the last thing to happen and my final warning that I need to take action!

How I cope

Everyone is individual and these methods may not work for everyone, but here’s how I cope with anxiety:

  • write in a journal
  • practise yoga
  • meditation/breathing exercises
  • exercise (going to the gym or out for walks)
  • talk to friends and family
  • reduce caffeine and sugar

I’ve had counselling for other concerns in the past and while for now I feel able to cope with the support of my friends and family, I would happily turn to a professional if I began to feel overwhelmed.

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