When Anxiety Leads to Restlessness

Sometimes, anxiety is like an itch you can’t scratch. You know it’s there – you can sense it, feel it, even acknowledge it if you’re able – but you feel helpless to do anything about it. I’ve experienced this feeling a few times here and there during the past week, which is what I want to talk about today.

There are times when I can accurately describe how anxious I’m feeling to someone, and there are times when I can’t even get close. While there are a lot of symptoms and aspects of anxiety I find frustrating, what might be the most difficult for me is that struggle I sometimes face to describe what I’m feeling. Whether it’s not being able to find the right word or not finding any words at all, I’m constantly pressuring myself to articulate what I’m experiencing and explain why that is.

This is how I’ve gotten to this point multiple times over the past few weeks. I was experiencing a ton of nervous energy and anxiety over the things I was doing, and I didn’t know why. I also couldn’t quite understand or describe this feeling, which of course only exacerbate my symptoms. It wasn’t until some conversations with my girlfriend that I finally noticed it, when she said a word I’d been searching for for days – “restless.”

Restlessness, which is a common symptom of anxiety, is defined by Healthline as when a person is “feeling ‘on edge’ or having an ‘uncomfortable urge to move.'” Sometimes when anxiety is triggered, it can invoked a flight-or-fight response, and that rush of adrenaline can make a person feel restless. Even though it’s safe to say that most people feel restless every now and then, it can feel otherworldly as a symptom of anxiety. It was like I had all this pent up energy and didn’t know where to go with it, which further caused my anxiety to spiral.

I won’t pretend that I’m excited to learn about this symptom of anxiety and do research on it (both for my own good and to share with you all), but there is some comfort in knowing that I can now put a name to a specific experience of mine. One of my biggest fears when it comes to mental health challenges is that I won’t be able to articulate what I’m feeling or experiencing to someone else. Then, because of that, I won’t get the care I need.

But now I’ve reached a familiar place on my mental health journey, a place I’ve been many times before. I wish I could say that recognizing my restlessness means that it’s going to go away, but that’s unlikely. Instead, I need to make a plan, and dig into my mental health toolkit to learn how to deal with and manage this new-found restlessness. Sending good vibes and thoughts to anyone experiencing the same thing right now – we got this!


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