Feeling overwhelmed by an upcoming work deadline or getting annoyed with a co-worker tapping his toes every five seconds in your cubicle is totally normal; however, feeling anxious all the time isn't. Knowing the signs of chronic anxiety can help you target them and find ways to keep yourself calm and relaxed when things start to heat up. Doing activities, such as yoga, meditation, and reading, can be simple strategies, but often meeting with a therapist can help get to the root of deeper issues.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on feeling better about themselves and finding ways to stay cool and in control. Letting emotions get out of hand doesn't benefit anyone, as it can often seep into personal relationships, work endeavors, and your general sense of wellbeing. If you're able to recognize that you're anxiety levels and behaviors aren't normal and are interfering with other areas of your life, it's best to take action and work on taming those nerves. Here are 11 signs that you might have chronic, or generalized anxiety disorder that might require outside help in getting to a better place. With time, healthier habits should develop and balance your mood and emotions.
1. You're Less Able To Prioritize Matters
According to Peg O'Connor, Ph.D., an expert contributor for Pro Talk on Rehabs.com over email with Bustle, "everything that needs to get done becomes the same size to you. Cleaning out the linen closet and doing your taxes become equally weighty even though there are far greater penalties for not filing your taxes." O'Connor adds, "You begin to lack the perspective about what you must do as opposed to what you might like to do. As a result, too many matters begin to slide, which only makes it even more difficult to prioritize."
2. You Procrastinate
O'Connor says, "Procrastination is especially tricky because it can look like productive activity. You may make fabulously detailed lists, which are works of art themselves. You may convince yourself that you can only start here but can’t yet because you have this other task to finish over there." O'Connor uses as an example, "The great Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard compares procrastination to sewing without tying a knot on the end of the thread. All the motions of sewing are made but none of the practical effects are produced."
3. You Second Guess Yourself
"Second guessing yourself is, at rock bottom, not trusting yourself. You might be afraid to make any decisions because you don’t trust your decision-making ability. If you do reach a decision, you may feel as if it will be the wrong one because you are the one who made it," advises O'Connor. "This may prompt you to disregard the knowledge or insight you possess or to go against your intuition or gut instinct. Lacking trust in yourself leads to a kind of confirmation bias: everything that doesn’t go well or turns out badly will count as proof that your decision-making ability is flawed," O'Connor adds.
4. You Are Always Tense
According to Ken Yeager PhD, Director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, over email with Bustle, if you're always tense or "on edge," it could be a sign you have a generalized anxiety disorder. "This frequently leads to increased muscle tension, primarily in the neck and shoulders. Often there is jaw pain from grinding and clinching of teeth. Which can in turn bring about headaches," adds Yeager.
5. You Can't Concentrate
"Many experience difficulty concentrating as they experience intrusive thoughts of 'what might go wrong' and have difficulty managing and controlling worry," says Yeager. If you notice you're struggling to focus on a general basis, it might be due to anxiety.
6. You're Not Able To Sleep
According to nutrition expert Liana Werner-Gray over email with Bustle, not being able to sleep soundly due to chronic anxiety is common. "As time progresses fatigue begins to take its toll frequently leading to irritability and agitation as the constant concern, tension and worry serves to exhaust the individual," adds Yeager.
7. You Feel Anxious Around Others
"Feeling anxious in social situations, being anxious about being with other people and having difficulty interacting with others within a social setting," can be a sign of generalized social anxiety, advises Yeager. "Frequently those who experience social anxiety relate to feeling alone in a large room full of people. This is more than just introversion," Yeager explains. "Feeling self-conscious in front of others, combined with intense worry of being humiliated, embarrassed or rejected," Yeager adds.
8. You Show Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety
"Physical symptoms frequently including, blushing, sweating or trembling in social situations," are signs of a chronic anxiety disorder, advises Yeager. This "can lead to feeling nauseous or sick in social situations," Yeager adds. If you notice this bodily reaction regularly, you might have generalized anxiety and could benefit from seeking help. Werner-Gray adds that stomach pain on a chronic basis could also be a physical symptom of generalized anxiety.
9. You Look To Substances To Deal With The Pain
Werner-Gray says that turning to substances, like drugs and alcohol, is common in those with generalized, chronic anxiety, who are trying to find solace. Of course, these often don't help long-term and can even make anxiety worse. Finding healthier outlets will be more beneficial for your body and wellbeing.
10. You Get Sick A Lot
If you're so worried that you're getting sick too often, it could be a sign of chronic anxiety, advises Werner-Gray. Your immune system plummets when you're faced with stress, so if you're too wound up regularly, your body will definitely feel it.
11. You Have Jitters
Werner-Gray says that you might experience jitters and weird body movements when you're feeling anxious and tense (as it hits your entire body). If you notice trembling and jitters from anxiety, it could signify a greater problem that is worth seeking professional help for.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it's worth taking control of your body and finding ways to calm yourself down. Feeling tense all the time won't make you feel good, and it will interfere with your ability to function normally each day and just live your life to its fullest.
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