I never considered myself an anxious person. I grew up in a small town; I can do small talk like it’s nobody’s business. I grew up with that mentality of “a stranger is dangerous. Strangers wear capes and have bowler hats and tie ladies to train tracks.” If I saw someone I didn’t know, my first response was (and still is to the embarrassment of my husband) to ask where they were headed and where they came from.
But I’m not keen on other things. I have a hard time going to bed at night. I obsessively check for my keys and find large crowds to be overwhelming. I can make small talk but can’t seem to get past that middle area of “acquaintanceship” that falls between meeting someone and making friends.
I would never have described myself as anxious until my husband pointed it out at a dinner with friends. I thought and thought and thought. He was right.
So that’s what this is about. Weird signs you’re anxious.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment
Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events
There are 8 kinds of anxiety:
general anxiety disorder (6.8 million adults, mostly women),
panic disorder (6 million, mostly women),
social anxiety disorder (15 million, affects women and men equally),
specific phobias(19 million, mostly women),
obsessive compulsive disorder (2.2 million, both men and women),
post-traumatic stress disorder (7.7 million, women),
major depressive disorder (14.8 million, women), and
persistent depressive disorder (3.3 million, men and women).
If like me, you’ve never considered yourself an anxious person, but you have these symptoms, you may want to talk to a doctor.
Gas: You get unexplainably gassy in certain situations. Meeting at work, going out for dinner with strangers, getting into an elevator… this is caused by an overactive gut (the acid is churning in your tummy), or because you’re breathing quickly and it leads to swallowing air.
Cold hands and feet: if you’re uneasy in a situation and your hands and feet are cold, it could be anxiety. When you’re anxious, your blood flow is redirected away from your extremities and toward your larger organs in your torso. It’s part of the fight or flight reflex, feeding more blood to your heart.
Rashes: I went to school with a girl whose upper chest broke out into a bright red rash whenever she went to speak to the professor and would go away an hour afterwards. This isn’t really that uncommon. Think about how you blush when you’re embarrassed or pleased. It’s extra cortisol surging through your bloodstream, dulling your body’s defenses.
Frequent yawning: It’s not just when you’re relaxed that you yawn (sleepy, bored = relaxed) you also yawn when you’re breathing too fast. Your body thinks that you’re not getting enough oxygen and forces you to take monster sized breaths to help balance things out.
Spacing out: if you often feel that the things around you aren’t real, that’s your brain coping with the enormous (and sometimes very subtle) anxiety derived strain. You brain is focusing on what you absolutely must deal with in order to get you out of the situation and when it focuses on your anxiety, you lose track of what’s going on around you.
The Phantom Ring: Do you hear or feel your phone go off or your alarm ring when it’s not? This occurrence happens for more often in people who have a high attachment anxiety (is your partner okay, did they die in a car crash, are they as committed as you are) than in people who had a secure or avoidant style of attachment.
If you’re suffer from anxiety (in any form, subtle or otherwise) there are a few things you can try to help deal with it before you run off to get doped up by a doctor.
Fix your blood sugar: if you’re blood sugar is all over the place, chances are, so are your emotions. People get angry when they’re hungry, why not anxious when your blood sugar crashes.
Caffeine troubles: some people just can’t handle caffeine. When you’re anxious, you’re already at the edge of your seat, a cup of coffee is going to make that So. Much. Worse.
Sleep: go to bed at the same time every night. Give yourself a pattern to help. Sleep in the dark, turn off all electronic devices an hour before bed. Open your curtains in the morning and gradually reduce light at night.
Make your tummy happy: go for gut healing foods. There are lots of connections between your brain and the bacteria in your stomach, so treat it kindly to set up a more well-adjusted brain.
Exercise: Do mini workouts. Squats by the washing machine. Sit on a balance ball when you watch TV or work on your computer. Tiny things can make a big difference.
Magnesium: some anxiety comes from a lack of magnesium, many of us are deficient, so take a magnesium supplement, take a bath with Epsom salts, try a magnesium gel. Whatever helps.