Worry is a tough cycle. In some ways it’s soothing to rifle through your insides and check for the list of “things that need to be done” and worry about them for a minute. There is a calming safety in focusing on all the bad things that could happen and what you’ll do if they come true. We all do this to some extent. It’s natural, it’s normal and, in the right context, it’s beneficial. The truth is there are things for which we can prepare. It’s why we have insurance, see doctors, and have fire drills. Bad things do happen.
There are approximately a million and one reasons why people resort to worrying. Maybe they suffered a trauma that they never got over, maybe they were taught to worry by people raising them. Maybe they are scared they can’t handle things, that something bad is going to happen. The real question is, when do you know that your worry is more? When is worry really anxiety? I have some ideas.
If you lose sleep due to anxiety more than one night a week.
Sleep is very important. It is as important to the body and mind as eating, drinking water and staying out of the rain. Just a few days without sleep can produce hallucinations, paranoia and complete breaks with reality. If you are so worried about something that it is stealing this precious commodity from you on a regular basis, you might be doing more than just worrying.
If you lose friends because of your anxiety.
It is perfectly reasonable that the friends you drank and partied with in college stopped hanging out with you when you got all grown up and started placing more importance on things like paying bills and watching your cholesterol. Them telling you you worry too much might not be true. But if your anxiety has forced you into social patterns of isolation (if you’re desperately uncomfortable around other people, or you feel panicked when out of your normal routine) you may be dealing with something bigger.
If you lose weight because of your anxiety.
Or gain weight, or get diarrhea or acid reflux, tension headaches, migraines, ulcers, high blood pressure or feel dizzy or nauseous because of Anxiety, you might need to talk it out with a professional. Here’s a good test: sit in a quiet place and take a few deep and relaxing breaths until your body feels calm. Then think about something that worries you and search your body for pains, tensions, or aches. If you find some, there is a chance that you’re suffering from anxiety and that anxiety is causing you pain.
If you lose control because of your anxiety.
When most of us picture an anxious person we might picture a pale, sweaty person with big eyes who twitches and talks fast or paces. Lol, I just made myself chuckle at that image. That is not the face of anxiety. Anxiety can look like a deer in the headlights, or a person stuck in their bed. It can look like someone screaming at their children for getting in trouble. It can look like rage. The truth is anxiety has many faces. If there are things that happen in your life that prevent you from controlling yourself (meaning you either can’t do what you want, or can’t stop yourself from doing what you don’t want) you might want to sit quietly and ask yourself if maybe you’re not deeply worried about something.
If it’s bigger than a “worry.”
If you have been reading this blog and getting annoyed at my use of the word worry and have wanted to yell at me and tell me that suffering from anxiety is so so so much more than being worried, yeah, you’re right, and I hope that you’re invested in talking to someone about it. Struggling alone with anxiety can feel like a battle you can’t win.
If you or someone you love struggles with anxiety or thinks their worrying nature might be out of control and you’d like you talk to someone, you can click here to reach out to Jennifer or check out Psychologytoday.com to find someone closer to where you are. Why waste anymore time?