Anxiety, the pervasive, invasive, feeling of worry or dread, is a beast. You see, the problem with worry is that it is cyclical, and it grows the more you feed it. You begin being worried about something inconsequential, like an upcoming appointment, which leads to worry about the results of it, which leads you to worry about the effect a yet to be determined illness might have on your life, which leads to worry about life in general, at which point you realize you’re too worried, then you’re worried about being worried.
Are you exhausted yet? Imagine living like this day in and day out. You don’t get a break because your brain won’t allow it. Anxiety puts your body into constant fight or flight mode and keeps it firmly there. Over time this level of stress will manifest in serious physical effects within your body. Let’s look at some of those.
1. Muscle Tension
People who are anxious are tense people, so it stands to reason that muscle tension would be an issue. This will cause tension headaches, back pain, and shoulder pain.
Remember that feeling of exhaustion and fatigue we talked about? Being a little tired once in awhile might lead you to get a better night’s sleep, but permanently being exhausted will lead to fatigue. Fatigue is being tired no matter how much rest you get. It is waking up tired, and of course, then you will begin to worry about being too tired as well. See how cyclical this becomes?
3. Weight Gain
Rising stress levels increase the amount of cortisol in one’s body, which then leads to weight gain. Gaining weight will increase the pressure on your already stressed joints, which will lead to more pain, which is a worry all its own.
4. Hair Loss
Unfortunately, if you are too stressed for too long, your hair may begin to fall out as a result. If you think you’re worried now . . . you know the rest.
5. Loss of Appetite
Struggling to maintain one’s weight and loss of appetite don’t seem to go together on the surface, but they do. If you are eating too little in conjunction with rising cortisol levels, your body will begin to hang onto calories in spite of your best efforts, and you will continue to gain weight.
This, in a nutshell, means that you think the worst all of the time. Every molehill is a mountain. Every drop of rain is an ocean. Catastrophizing can drive you crazy if you don’t find a way to stop it.
If your mind constantly presents the worst case scenarios to you over and over again, it is difficult, if not impossible, to avoid getting pretty sad about it. Depression will also fuel sleep issues and body aches.
Anxiety isn’t anyone’s friend. It can leave you in bad shape, in pain, and plain miserable. The best thing to do to preserve your sanity is to immerse yourself in healthy ways to avoid anxiety and seek help to shut it down as being in a constant state of panic is no way to live.