Girl biting hand showing anxiety

Anxiety can reveal itself in a range of forms, from stomach knots and nausea, to heart palpitations and sweats. While medication may be prescribed by your GP, anxiety can be reduced simply by applying new ways of thinking. Your thoughts can rule so much of your life, so when you can overcome situations that physically affect you, no matter how minor, you can empower yourself to achieve great things.

What is anxiety?

It is your body’s physical response to threats. Your breathing might increase, your heart might start pounding, you could feel butterflies in your stomach, and you might get a burst of energy.

Everyone feels anxious at times, and a certain level of anxiety is normal, and even helpful, in some situations. Anxiety is your body’s way of keeping you safe. For instance, imagine you’re walking home, and you’re dragging your feet because you’re tired. Out of the corner of your eye, you think you see a snake. Suddenly, you forget how tired you are and have a burst of energy that helps you to get out of harm’s way.

Anxiety can also motivate you. If you feel a bit anxious about an assignment that’s due or a job interview, it can help you to power through.

However, feeling too much anxiety about something, or feeling anxiety that’s not connected to an obvious challenge, isn’t helpful. It can get in the way of your day-to-day activities and affect your quality of life.

What are the signs and key symptoms?

People who become anxious or have an anxiety disorder may display a variety of different signs and symptoms. Different types of anxiety disorders can also have different symptoms. However, there are some common ones, including:

  • racing heart or tightening of the chest
  • rapid breathing
  • feeling tense, restless, ‘on edge’ or wound up
  • hot and cold flushes
  • sweating
  • shaking
  • feeling weak or tired
  • obsessive thinking excessive fear and worrying
  • having a sense of impending panic, doom or danger
  • imagining the worst-case scenario
  • having difficulty thinking about anything other than what’s worrying you
  • having trouble sleeping
  • stomach or digestion issues
  • avoiding situations that make you feel anxious (e.g. taking public transport, going to class or meeting new people).