It's one thing to be antsy before a big deadline at work or a public speaking event; however, if you're chronically anxious, and not really sure why, it could signify that you have elevated anxiety levels. If you think you could be suffering from too much tension each day, it's best to figure out ways to calm your worries and feel more calm and in control. If you're too wound up regularly, it can affect your body, mental performance, and mood.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on feeling more relaxed in the day and getting rid of tense moments when they spring up. If you notice that you're feeling on edge a lot lately, and it doesn't seem to go away, it could be an indicator of larger, generalized anxiety that can become even stronger with time. Think about your feelings and surroundings: did something trigger your anxiety? If it's been resolved, are you still anxious? These types of questions can help you better understand the levels and scope of your anxiety and how best to handle it. Here are 11 signs that you might have elevated cortisol levels and are actually worrying way too much.
1. You Feel Threatened
According to Rita Milios, LCSW, an expert writer for Pro Corner on Recovery.org, over email with Bustle, "Anxiety always involves some type of fear, usually internalized as a slightly panicky feeling inside. If anxiety is heightened, this panic sensation is also heightened, and may lead to a sense of dread with feelings that a threat is present." If you feel on edge and scared, without a valid cause, it could be due to too much anxiety.
2. You Have Panic Attacks
Panic attacks can happen "due to the body's natural aversion to feeling fear," says Milios. "Panic attacks differ from normal anxiousness in both degree and onset. Panic attacks happen suddenly and usually feature extreme symptoms, including unusually intense feelings of dread and feelings that something very bad is happening, to the point of feeling that one is dying or losing control. Physical symptoms, such as a racing heart, dizziness, trouble breathing or chest pains, although triggered by the anxiety itself, also seem to confirm the worst," explains Milios.
3. You Have Higher Blood Pressure
"Anxiety and increased stress causes hormone levels to change and elevates your heart rate and blood pressure," says Dr. Partha Nandi M.D., F.A.C.P, creator and host of the Emmy-award winning medical lifestyle television show, “Ask Dr. Nandi” and Chief Health Editor at WXYZ-TV (ABC) Detroit over email with Bustle. "The brain sends signals to the adrenal glands (organs that sit atop your kidneys), which release hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline causes the heart rate and blood pressure to increase. Cortisol elevates the level of sugar, or glucose, in the bloodstream to boost energy. Cortisol also suppresses processes that influence mood, motivation, and fear," Nandi explains.
4. You're Low In Energy
"Increased anxiety can also cause low energy levels," advises Nandi. If you notice that you're lacking in energy and motivation, and you're super anxious, it could be damaging to your productivity. To prevent this effect, speak with someone for help with taming your tension.
5. You're Getting Sick Often
If you're getting sick often, it could be due to high cortisol levels and a compromised immune system. Nandi suggests that having high anxiety can impair your immunity and cause you to be more exposed to infections and germs. Your body won't be able to handle these obstacles as well.
6. You're Not Interested In Sex
Nandi says it's common to not be interested in sex if you're struggling with intense anxiety. The cortisol can interfere with a healthy libido. If you're skipping out on intimate time with your S.O. between the sheets because you're worrying or tense, it's time to find ways to feel more calm and free.
7. You Have Digestive Issues
Nandi says that having digestive issues, like irritable bowel syndrome, for instance, can happen if you're suffering from chronic anxiety. If you notice you're having poor gut health and stomach pains, especially when you're tense, it's probably due to greater cortisol spikes.
8. You Can't Sleep
According to Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, over email with Bustle, if you're experiencing trouble sleeping or bouts of insomnia, it could be related to higher levels of anxiety and stress. If you're losing hours regularly, it can sabotage your wellbeing and productivity at work.
9. You're Irregular At That Time Of The Month
Shaw says that it's normal to experience a change or fluctuation in menstruation if you're under major, chronic stress and have too much cortisol flowing through your body. If you notice any irregularity, check with a physician and consider finding outlets to for relaxation to see if it helps.
10. You're Noticing Muscle Pain
If you're experiencing tension in your muscles and joints, without a clear reason relative to physical activity, such as a new fitness program or a different body motion during a class, it could be associated with high anxiety levels. If you think this is the case, try something relaxing, like a massage or yoga to ease the pain, and seek help from a professional.
11. You Avoid Certain Places & Situations
If you're avoiding certain people, places, or scenarios due to fear, anxiety, or negative emotions, it could be due to a generalized anxiety disorder, or even a social phobia. If you notice this pattern, seek help from a therapist to help conquer your fears and find more comfort in approaching these obstacles.
If you notice these symptoms, it could signify a intense level of anxiety, and if left unresolved, it can seep into other areas of your life and cause disturbance. Seeking help from a professional can help in finding recovery.
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