THOSE who experience anxiety will know all to well that there is more to it than rushing thoughts.
The physical symptoms can be just as cruel and debilitating.
Kamran Bed, a qualified mental health practitioner, tells The Sun how to deal with physical symptoms of anxiety and why you must never ignore them.
1. Freeze mode
When a situation causes you to feel anxious, quite often the body can go into ‘freeze mode’.
“When this happens, the shoulders may raise, facial muscles and jaws can tighten and you may at times feel rigid and stuck,” Kamran explains.
“Some people can suddenly feel tight and tense, their legs can feel like heavy anchors, and it can seem overwhelming to actually move their body.”
Itâs not healthy for the body to remain in this physical state for long.
“It can be very exhausting and limit you from general day-to-day activity where the anxiety causes you to feel exhausted and fatigued,” he explains.
To deal with ‘freeze mode’ Kamran suggests a slow calm walk, yoga or stretching to help relax the body.
Anxiety can cause a person to feel as though the room is spinning or even closing in on them.
“This can increase the sense or anxiety and even panic, and if itâs not dealt with, it could potentially trigger at random unexpected times,” Kamran warns.
“‘Physical anchoringâ by mentally focussing on the feet and the connection to the floor can help a person feel more grounded,” KamranÂ says.
He says that by focussing on the feeling of the feet and “the connection to the ground” you can help bring the focus back to the body and not into the “daze and confusion that spins around outside of you”.
He adds: “Then continuing with a mental body scan, noticing the feeling of the feet, then the legs, then the hands, working your way up the body holding your focus on each part for ten seconds.”
3. Difficulty breathing
Some people find it difficult to breathe when anxious – their breath can become short and rapid.
“This shouldnât be ignored as it isnât good for the body, as you could end up hyperventilating which could lead to a panic attack,” KamranÂ explains.
The key to improving how you feel quickly is to “actively breathe”, the expert says.
This involves taking slow, long deep inhales through the nose and exhaling slowing through the mouth as if youâre blowing out a candle.
“Active and conscious breathing can help calm the sympathetic nervous system which may have switched into fight or flight mode when anxious.
“With ten to 15 slow breaths, you can reduce your anxiety quite quickly,” he says.
4. Body sweats
Whether that be sweaty palms, armpits or forehead, it’s all potentially embarrassing.
“Sweats shouldnât be ignored as they are a clear sign the body is shifting into fight or flight mode,” the expert says.
“The key is to remain calm, especially with your thoughts.
“Actively using your inner voice to offer yourself reassurance can help reduce the anxiety and body sweats as can meditation or mindfulness.”
5. Difficulty falling asleep
An anxious mind can make falling asleep a bit of a nightmare.
Kamran said if ignored, this difficulty in sleeping can easily become a habitual pattern.
“Over a long period of time, poor sleep from anxiety can cause a lack of concentration, fatigue, and even digestive issues,” he says.
“One of the key ways to help your mind quieten down when you go to sleep, is to imagine your mind completely âblackâ.
“This will help to reduce the mental activity of your thoughts to then help you relax and sleep with more ease.”
6. Gut churning
Whether you stomach feels like it’s in knots or you’re having to run to the toilet every ten minutes, many of us have experienced a bit of a funny tummy from anxiety.
“This is the body’s way of communicating the distress and discomfort within us,” he says.
“Over time this can cause fear and further anxiety where individuals have developed a pattern of staying close to home from the anxiety of possibly needing a bathroom in an emergency situation.”
He suggests mentally focussing on the feelings in the gut.
“Try to use your mind like a remote control to âpauseâ or stopâ the feelings.
“Even changing them to make them smaller can, with practice, help the mind more mindfully take control of the feelings in the gut,” KamranÂ explains.
Kamran has written a book called The Anxiety Antidote which offers a wider explanation of anxiety and the physical symptoms.
It also discusses a variety of methods that readers can use to help their anxious thoughts and feelings.
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