Do you worry about the physical symptoms of anxiety? (click on “anxiety checklist” at the top of the page to see the common symptoms) You are not alone. The physical symptoms of anxiety are a very big source of worry for many. The symptoms can be so intense and scary that it is common to end up in the emergency room of the hospital, only to find out that it was a panic attack. The physical symptoms of anxiety and stress are a result of the physiological response called the fight-or-flight response. If you are interested in finding out more about the fight-or-flight response click on the link below:
Over time you may lose trust in your body. The symptoms sometimes feel like they are coming out of the blue. The symptoms occur in public places. So you worry about them. What do they mean? Am I having a heart attack? Will my dizziness make me faint in public and embarrass myself? The what-if thoughts are endless. And because of the mind-body connection in anxiety, the worry makes the symptoms worse.
The truth is that these physical symptoms will not hurt you. I know that it is hard to remember this when you are in the thick of it. Bottom line is that these symptoms are very uncomfortable. Learning to sit in discomfort without trying to make it stop is a coping skill that is very effective. Using your rational mind to talk yourself through it is also important. Say to yourself statements such as, “This feels uncomfortable but it is temporary and will eventually pass”, “This is just my anxiety and I am OK”, “It’s OK to be uncomfortable”. These statements are reassurance as well as reinforcement of new thoughts. This process leads to ACCEPTANCE of the symptoms. Acceptance allows change to occur. If you can truly accept your physical symptoms, they will not last as long. Sometimes I even encourage people to talk to the anxiety symptoms. You can even invite the anxiety symptoms in by saying, “Bring it on!” “Come and get me”. Facing your fear of your symptoms will help to decrease them, especially in the long run.
Don’t let them control you. Be brave! Courage is not the absence of fear, it is having the fear and doing it anyway.
Suzanne Dorfman, M.Ed.
“Whatever you are trying to avoid won’t go away until you confront it.” Anonymous