Living With Anxiety: 15 Examples of What It Might Look Like

How do you know if you have anxiety? Sometimes, it’s easy to identify that we are feeling anxious. Anxiety often feels like nervousness, fear, worry, uneasiness, insecurity, or even panic. It might cause you to sweat, feel restless, or have a rapid heartbeat. Some anxiety can be a normal reaction to something that causes stress, such as taking a big exam or giving a public speech. But other times, you might feel more generally anxious without a specific cause, and this is more difficult to identify.

Learning to cope with stress and manage feelings of anxiety is an important part of living a meaningful life, having positive relationships, enjoying activities, and succeeding in your goals. That’s why it is so important to understand how anxiety shows up in our lives.

Below are 15 examples of what anxiety might look like in real life:


  1. Being unable to enjoy the present moment. When anxiety overwhelms us, it can feel like going through life on autopilot and you may struggle to feel connected to the present moment.


  1. Worrying excessively over what might happen. People living with anxiety often feel like their mind and body go into overdrive as they struggle with ruminating thoughts of “what might happen.”


  1. Feeling inadequate or less than others in some way. Sometimes anxiety causes us to have huge, unrealistic expectations of ourselves, which can lead to self-doubt and insecurities.


  1. Spending a great deal of time over analyzing situations. When you can’t stop thinking about a situation over and over in your mind, you’re probably experiencing.


  1. Feeling like everything is too much to process. Sensory overload is one of the hallmarks of anxiety, and it can make us feel unable to manage what we are faced with.


  1. Sweating, rapid heartbeat, stomach aches, or headaches. Your physical symptoms of anxiety are just as valid as your mental and emotional symptoms.


  1. Difficulty sleeping due to racing thoughts or worries. When our central nervous system is constantly activated, it can be very hard to relax, which makes sleeping soundly a challenge for many people with anxiety.


  1. Lacking an appetite due to feelings of overwhelm. Living with anxiety goes beyond just having butterflies in our stomachs. Sometimes feeling anxious means we don’t feel like eating.


  1. Feeling jittery or hyperaware of everything around you. Some people with anxiety report feeling like they are constantly in fight or flight mode, unable to relax because of anticipated threats around them at all times.


  1. Having obsessions or fixations that feel unable to let go of. Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that we are unable to shake. They hinder our ability to concentrate on everyday tasks and make it hard to focus on anything else.


  1. Dreading upcoming situations or expecting the worst to happen. People living with anxiety might rationally understand that they will enjoy certain events or activities, but emotionally still dread attending them due to fear of the unknowns.


  1. Feeling burned out or like there is way too much on your plate. It’s hard to feel like there is room to breathe in our lives when anxiety takes over.


  1. Feeling mentally exhausted and neglecting self-care. Sometimes the fatigue from anxiety makes it hard for us to prioritize our basic needs, like healthy routines for eating, sleeping, showering, chores, leisure activities,


  1. Avoiding people, events, situations out of fear. Social environments can be a challenge for people living with anxiety, especially because of the perceived risks relating to being judged.


  1. Feeling irritable, annoyed, or angry with no apparent cause. Anxiety can deplete our energy and patience very quickly, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for tolerating things that cause frustration.


If you experience any of these examples of anxiety, it’s so important to reach out for help and support from those around you or a mental health professional. Talking about how anxiety shows up in your life will help strengthen your ability to overcome stress, understand your triggers, and develop coping skills to feel more in control. When we hide our anxiety or keep it on the inside, it tends to amplify inside of us. Your mental health – however it presents – is always important and worthy of being expressed.

Written by Lauren Presutti

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