9 Things Anxiety Makes You Do

Hey Optimist Minds!

Does your anxiety make you do things you wouldn’t have done otherwise? 

An anxiety disorder is characterised by feelings of worry, anxiety or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities. However, everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their life. For some people, it’s more frequent than others.

When you’re anxious, there’s a sudden transition happening in your mind and body. The perception of a threat activates your survival instinct and you start preparing yourself for action. Thus, the biology of anxiety forces one to behave a certain way in response to a real or perceived danger.

In this video, we will discuss nine things anxiety makes you do. This information should help you understand your anxiety better. However, if anxiety frequently interferes with your functioning, we recommend that you consult a mental health professional at the soonest.

So, let’s begin.

One

You avoid things.

In many ways, the feeling of anxiety is meant to protect us. It causes us to avoid certain circumstances to prevent negative outcomes. When you’re anxious, you’ll probably avoid going somewhere, talking to someone, or doing something so that you don’t find yourself an unfortunate situation. For example, your anxiety makes you wash your hands repeatedly to avoid getting infected with COVID.

Two

You become restless.

When the body is anxious, it activates the fight-or-flight reaction. This is a sequence of bodily changes that prepare us for the threat in front of us. An effect of this reaction is an increased production of energy to either fight or flee the danger. When anxiety is caused by things we can neither fight nor flee from, the energy produced is excessive so it makes us restless. You find it hard to sit at one place calmly.

Three

You fidget.

All the nervous energy produced in an anxiety attack needs to be released somehow even if we can’t use it to move away or towards the problem. That’s why anxious people often start fidgeting. If you have a toy or a small article to manipulate, your fingers fidget with it. Otherwise, it’s very common to bite nails, pick on skin, pinch, scratch, and pull hair.

Four

You tighten your muscles.

Another physiological reaction in anxiety is an increased tension in all your muscles. This happens so that you’re faster if you need to attack or run. So, whenever you get anxious, you’ll notice that a lot of your muscles are clenched up, and unnecessarily since you can’t fight nor flee.

Five

You stop thinking with your whole brain.

The fight or flight reaction is a response of the sympathetic nervous system, or SNS. This is a collection of nerves that connect internal organs to the brain through the spinal column. 

During anxiety, the SNS prioritised only the body parts needed to deal with an immediate physical threat, and shuts off every other bodily process. As a result, we lose access to our brain’s prefrontal cortex. Instead, we only function using more primitive parts of the brain that are incapable of rational thinking.

Six

You talk differently.

Anxiety also impacts speech, which is better controlled with the more advanced grey matter that fight or flight switches off. Either you freeze up when you’re anxious and you can’t speak a word. Or, you start talking too fast to release some of that nervous energy. But that’s without making much sense.

Seven

You procrastinate.

Procrastination is another way that anxiety causes avoidance behaviours. When you’re anxious about whether something you need to do will turn out well, it’s typical to temporarily let go of those fears by engaging in an irrelevant activity. 

But when you procrastinate for too long, it becomes counterproductive and adds to your anxiety. Sometimes, it can become an endless cycle of procrastinating till panic kicks in.

Eight

You force yourself to get busy.

If the uncontrollable thoughts start messing with you, you might be temped to distract yourself with some engaging task. Keeping yourself busy is helpful in the short run because you don’t think about upsetting things. But unaddressed thoughts have a way of creeping up on you when there’s silence or you’re lying in bed.

Nine

You imagine all the worst-case scenarios.

Anxiety prepares us for whatever can go wrong by helping us foresee setbacks. Nevertheless, if your body is too alert and worked up, you’ll start seeing terribly bad outcomes that have very small chances of coming true. For some people, these can become scary visuals that they can’t get out of their heads.

Have you ever caught yourself doing any of these things? Do you think your anxiety might be getting out of hand? Speak to a therapist to learn more.

Let us know in the comments if you found this video helpful. A link for further reading and the studies & references used in the making of this video are mentioned in the description below.

Thanks for visiting optimist minds, take care. Until next time.

References

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