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  • Writer's pictureAveril

Anxious for No Reason? Check These 4 Things

Updated: 16 hours ago



Sometimes anxiety has a clear cause – an upcoming exam, waiting on medical test results, starting a new job. All of these situations involve uncertainty, which most people find at least a little uncomfortable.

 

But other times, it feels like anxiety has no obvious trigger. You might feel nervous or agitated, have a fluttery tummy, feel preoccupied or distracted, or have trouble sleeping without any clear situation to associate with it. It can be unpleasant and frustrating.

 

Here’s what I encourage my clients to do when anxiety shows up seemingly out of the blue.

 

Check – is there really nothing going on?

 

Sometimes the body is aware of the stress we are under before the conscious mind. If you’re saying “But everything’s fine!” while your eye is twitching uncontrollably, it’s worth doing an honest assessment of your current situation.

 

  • How much work is on your plate?

  • How much do you need to rush around to get all your tasks done or get from one appointment to another?

  • Is there some kind of chronic, long-term stressor that you’ve just become accustomed to but is silently exacting a toll – an ill loved one, a packed schedule, a persistent injury, a fractured relationship?

  • How much change and transition have you been through in the last year?

  • Is there an upcoming anniversary of a loss or difficult past experience?

  • Is there a looming deadline or decision you’ve been trying to ignore?

 

How much caffeine are you consuming?

 

From one coffee-lover to another – I know you don’t want to hear this. But the effects of caffeine feel so similar to anxiety that the brain can confuse them. I’ve had the exact experience of wondering what I’m so nervous about the my hands are shaking, only to realise I have consumed an extra cup of coffee an hour before.

 

How much media are you consuming?

 

Our modern world presents us with more constantly updating information than at any other time in human history. Our brains did not evolve to soak in this much information all day, every day. From news, to social media, to constant communication with family and friends, the input is relentless.


A lot of the information we are exposed to every day can be challenging or upsetting to hear. Many people feel strongly about the wider suffering of other countries and communities as the internet connects us on a more immediate and personal level than ever before.


It is important to acknowledge that this experience has only become a (large) part of the normal human experience in the past decade or so. Being discerning about the amount and type of media you consume and taking intentional breaks from the non-stop stream of information will allow you to better resource yourself to respond to the people and issues you care about.

 

For people who menstruate – is your period due, or could you be experiencing symptoms of peri-menopause?

 

Hormonal fluctations often result in emotional symptoms, including feelings of anxiety. If you have regular periods, it can be useful to track for a few months whether there is a connection between  your hormonal cycle and feeling more anxious.


Making a recurring monthly note in your calendar to be aware of the potential to feel more anxious or otherwise emotional in the week or so before your period is due can be helpful with recognising what might be the cause.


If you are feeling suicidal or otherwise debilitated by period-related emotions, seek medical advice right away – it might not be unusual, but it shouldn’t just be accepted.


And if it's none of those things?


If your feelings of anxiety tend to show up one day and disappear the next, and if you’ve done an honest assessment and still can’t find any potential source of anxiety, then sometimes it can be chalked up to the mysteries of the human brain and body.


Just as you might wake up one morning with an unexplained ache or pain, an upset stomach, or feel grumpy and flat, it is possible that some biological process in the body is creating symptoms of anxiety. Sometimes all that is required is a good meal, some sunshine or exercise, or a decent night’s sleep.

 

If, however, your anxiety is more persistent, interfering with your daily life, or causing you ongoing distress, seek support. Anxiety is extremely common and the majority of people will experience one or more  episodes of anxiety in their lifetime. It is a normal human emotion and there will always be situations throughout life that provoke understandable levels of anxiety.


There are also many tools and techniques you can learn to make anxiety more manageable, so that feeling anxious becomes less intense, shorter-lived, and a less frequent occurrence. A good therapist will help you to understand your own root triggers for anxiety, coach you through and troubleshoot tools and strategies, and support you to build confidence in managing anxiety in future.

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