8 Things To Ask Yourself When You're Anxious

by Brianna Wiest

We've all been there. You're going about your day, enjoying your life, when all of a sudden a fear thought springs up on you, and you're thenceforth inconsolable and distracted by all the things that could and should and maybe will go wrong. I get it. It happens. But a major problem we have in our culture is that we assume things happen non-causally, and especially when it comes to emotions, that couldn't be further from the truth.

There is a reason you feel the way you do, and if anxiety is springing up on you seemingly unprompted but regularly enough, it means there's definitely something that's off-kilter, or an issue you've been really neglecting to address. The heat of the moment certainly isn't the time to go full-on therapy session though, and understandably so. But in the meantime, what you can do is ask yourself a few questions to figure out how you can make yourself feel better in the short-term and what really needs to be dealt with in the long-term. Sometimes it's really just a matter as simple as not drinking enough water, and other times it's something a lot more complex that you have to put on the mental back-burner for a bit. Regardless, it's crucial that you know. Here, all the questions you should be asking yourself if you're anxious for no reason:

What Was The Trigger, Exactly?

The trigger isn't what you want to avoid, the trigger is what you want to pay attention to. It's ultimately the key to understanding what's really wrong which is the key to understanding what you need to work on and change.

Assuming Any Abstract, Nonsensical Or Strange Fears/Thoughts Are Just Projections Or Symbols Of What's Wrong, What Would Your Brain Be Trying To Tell You?

Most of the "random" or "weird" thoughts we have or fears we muster up are just symbols or metaphors for what's really wrong. For example, I have a friend who gets really anxious in the car. It took a few years for her to figure out that a lot of her anxieties surrounded her physically moving forward, and in her mental/emotional life, her biggest problem is, you guessed it, moving forward and letting go. It's not always about the fear, but it's almost always about what it represents.

Where Exactly Do You Feel The Unpleasant Sensation?

Is it in your chest? Is it just a general feeling of uncertainty? Is it a series of thoughts that sets you off on a spiral? The space in which you experience the sensation is really important, because it can tell you what's really going on: if it's just a thought pattern, that means you have an unaddressed emotional issue; if it's a tightness in your chest, it's usually something to do with fear or loss of control; and if it's in your stomach, it's usually something to do with not being able to fully face a situation you created for yourself.

Is This Issue Social?

Does it just come about when other people are around? Does it happen before a get-together or some other social situation? That usually means it's just a matter of fear of "what other people think" — aka, you not addressing what you really think and feel about yourself (and altering it so it's more accurate/healthy).

Could Your Sugar Be Low?

Low blood sugar causes anxiety, it's a simple problem, one that most people don't often consider.

Did You Have A Lot Of Coffee And Not Enough Water?

Caffeine causes anxiety, and so does dehydration. The two combined? Forget about it.

Who Were You Most Recently Around?

There's something to be said for "energy" and the "vibe" that people give off: the kind of gut read you get on a person before ideas about what they should be or how they really are or how you're misperceiving them kick in and change your mind. If you find that you're always feeling upset right after you've been around a certain person or group of people, you should really evaluate them in an honest light. Especially if you also feel like you don't always want to engage with them and yet for some reason always feel like you "have" to.

In An Ideal World, What Would Be The Perfect Solution To This Problem?

So few people stop to consider this, but I think that you'd find that if you dreamt up your own personal utopia, the solution would be so simple, you'd realize how attainable it is in the present moment. For the example previously mentioned, my friend's "perfect solution" would just be to not feel anxious in the car. It's not always some proverbial mountain you have to climb to cope or truly get over things. Sometimes it's just the tiniest shift in perception.

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