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Am I Experiencing Anxiety?

Updated: Sep 17, 2023

Anxiety is not straightforward and even after living with it for well over a decade it still takes me by surprise.


Believe it or not, you may not even realize that you are struggling with anxiety. A lot of the symptoms can be confused with illness or passed off as a “funny turn”. Anxiety is not always consistent; you may have "bouts" of it when you are in a particular place or experiencing something new. If these feelings recur or increase you might find that you get gradually more confused, feel more chaotic, or think that something is medically wrong and this panic tends to enhance the initial anxiety.


Sometimes anxiety disorder can be confused with:

  • Illness

  • Phobia or fear

  • Excitement

  • Stress

  • Exhaustion

The reason that anxiety often gets confused with one or more of these things is that the symptoms are similar and the cause may be linked. For instance, you may end up feeling ill, nauseous, lightheaded, and feverish if you are having an anxiety or panic attack. Being overworked or having too much adrenaline can lead to anxiety also. So they tend to overlap and it's always safest if you aren't sure to keep track of what's going on for you each day and understand the duration of the anxiety and when it's most likely to occur.


There are some things to take note of beforehand that can indicate you may be suffering from a form of anxiety and therefore you can manage it quicker.


1. The need to run away


Notice I say need, this isn’t the need for fresh air this is the sense of fleeing, quickly and not caring about the impact that will have on those around you or the social situation you are in.

I experienced my first real bout of anxiety while I was on a train (not ideal) and the sense of needing my own space away from people came over me. I knew I couldn’t get off and quite frankly that made it worse but I had to move.

As my anxiety got worse over the years, I found myself always being aware of where the doors were in case I needed to escape. The idea that I was close to an exit calmed me down. Feeling like you need to escape even though you aren’t quite sure what you are trying to escape from can be a tell-tale sign that you are experiencing anxiety.

Anxiety is generally referred to in the terms of “fight or flight” the feeling of your body unnecessarily thinking it's in a life-or-death situation and preparing you to either fight or run. Unfortunately, anxiety doesn’t register that sitting on a train isn’t a life-or-death situation.

You may not know why you feel this way about what seems like simple tasks or places but that can be evaluated with the use of our Discovery Journal.


2. Always feeling tired

You might not even associate it with anxiety right away, you might think you are just a bit worn out, eating too much, or not enough, but the feeling of being tired continuously or being tired when you shouldn’t be can be an indicator you are experiencing some anxiety.

You might be nervous about something that’s coming up or be feeling a bit of pressure in your life, when anxiety gets its claws in it will drain your battery very quickly and you might not even realize.

When you are in the aforementioned “fight or flight” response it takes a huge amount of internal energy to try and counteract those responses. Your body is constantly fighting against itself to calm you down and as well as the internal stuff, it's working on trying to focus, listen, think, see, and all the basic stuff too while making you look completely in control on the outside.


3. Nausea and sweating


Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m anxious until I get the physical symptoms. I tend to feel very hot for no reason and start noticing myself feeling sick. Luckily I know the difference now between actual illness and “anxiety illness” but at the beginning, it can be very confusing and some of the physical symptoms that come along with anxiety can feel very real and therefore be very confusing if you hadn’t any need to think you were unwell before.

There are some short-term fixes I’ve learned though. In times when I haven’t been able to identify my feelings as anxiety, I try popping my head outside, maybe pacing or having a short walk, and just letting the breeze cool me down. If I begin to feel better after doing this I can pinpoint that what I’m feeling is anxiety and understanding always helps! Once you know what you are dealing with the problem becomes more controllable.

For any nausea, sucking on an ice cube can be a huge relief. I’ve never taken anti-nausea medication but I knew that if I started taking them I wouldn’t stop and I’d be using them constantly. Since I have a fear of being sick, these would just be a crutch or safety net that I could get easily tangled up in.

Finally (it might some odd) but sighing out loud can have a very calming effect on anyone wanting to reduce anxiety. The feeling of release when you breathe out does wonders for the body and the mind.


If you are feeling unwell or unsafe you might think the last thing you want to do is engage in conversation or move at all! But I've found that singing, dancing, hmming or starting a conversation, and concentrating on something else really do distract you from feeling unwell.


4. Bloating and Gas


There can be loads of reasons you might be experiencing bloating and excess gas but if you are noticing a bout of hiccups or random burping in situations where there is no call for it, it could be your body's way of controlling your anxiety. Again, you may not even notice it! When we start to panic we take in more air, our breathing isn’t regulated and some people in the midst of an attack can struggle to catch their breath. When the heart rate increases we tend to take shorter breaths and this extra intake ultimately needs to go somewhere which is why when you are feeling anxious you may see some bloating or an increase in fluctuation as your body tries to remove it.

If you are out and about or in a public place you may not want to “relieve” these symptoms immediately, but I’d encourage doing so anyway. Maybe sneak off to a private location if you are conscious about it (or go somewhere loud) you don’t want to face pain and nausea later on in the day simply from holding in too much gas because then you could put yourself back into an anxious state when dealing with those symptoms on top!


5. Lack of appetite


A loss of appetite comes hand in hand with anxiety. You may not want to eat because you already don’t feel yourself. If you can’t differentiate between nausea because you are ill and nausea because you are anxious you may refuse food as not to “take the risk”. I would always encourage that this point to eat something like rice or bread, even though it’s a bit carb-heavy they are both known to ease the feeling of nausea and do all good stuff in the gut regardless of whether your feelings are real illness or anxiety; they are safety foods. Another good one is ginger (and yes ginger biscuits count)

You can end up feeling nausea from the lack of food, in the long run anyway so I think it’s worth taking the risk to try yourself out on some toast and see if you feel better from it.


6. Inability to concentrate


You can easily lose your train of thought if you are feeling anxious. You might experience more moments of walking into a room and not remembering why you went in there. I found that I could concentrate when I was anxious but I could only concentrate on my anxiety. I missed whole sections of conversations because I was thinking “do I look like I’m sweating?” “where’s the closest exit?”

You could easily put your lack of focus down to tiredness or low motivation but it’s always worth keeping a track of the days where you feel you haven’t got much done or can’t remember too much of what happened, to see if this is a recurring behavior. If you know it's happening on certain days relating to a certain place or person, it quite possibly could be that that environment makes you anxious.

Tracking is one of the primary tools in the Discovery Journal.


Making sense of what seems like chaos can help you pinpoint areas of your life that are causing anxiety over a longer period of time, so you can go on to work on those areas and improve your state of mind.




7. Avoidance


Do you find yourself inadvertently avoiding certain places, people, or events? I absolutely encourage the use of “no” and you should never feel guilty for just saying no if it’s something you don’t fancy doing but when you are intentionally avoiding activities or interactions this can be a sign that there is anxiety there. You might not know exactly what it is about the prospect that is making you anxious, it could be a particular person, activity, or place, which is something you can analyze further in your Discovery Journal; but you’ll find that when you start making excuses or giving yourself excuses there is something bigger going on.

You might find yourself rationalizing yourself out of something like “I can’t afford to take the time off work to go on holiday” when actually you might be just scared of the plane or the hustle and bustle of an airport.

I used to feel “ill” quite a lot and therefore I would miss events because I wasn’t feeling very well, when actually it was the anxiety that was making me feel unwell…you see how the vicious cycle starts?


Let me make it clear, you may not experience any of these things, or you might experience one at a time over a long period of time, but it’s worth taking note of some of the signs.

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