Living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder has taught me so many things about myself. I’ve learned what some of my tendencies are, as well as what habits I fall into when it comes to coping mechanisms. I’ve learned about my triggers, what overstimulates me and what makes me anxious. But over the past few years, I’ve started focusing on other things connected to my anxiety. My GAD has always impacted my physical health, but it wasn’t something I often reflected on. Like other mental health disorders, anxiety can affect our physical health. Here’s how it impacts mine!
While anxiety is a mental health issue, the physical effects can have just as big of an impact. It’s why experts make the distinction between having anxiety and having anxiety disorders. The same could be said for how anxiety is different from chronic anxiety. There are so many ways anxiety can impact various parts of our bodies, from our head down to our toes:
“Living with chronic anxiety can cause physical stress on your body, especially to your nervous, cardiovascular, digestive, immune, and respiratory systems.”Healthline
Common physical symptoms of anxiety include headaches, breathing problems, heart palpitations, upset stomach and extreme fatigue (in addition to so many other symptoms). Long story short? Anxiety affects our bodies. It can have an impact that persists, especially when it comes to chronic anxiety. And rather than wait until we feel the long-term effects, I thought I’d share how anxiety impacts me.
Recognizing anxiety’s impact on my body isn’t always easy. When I’m anxious, I can experience dizziness, feel foggy and develop tension headaches. I can also become fatigued due to chronic anxiety, so I don’t always have the energy to manage anxiety in the way I’d like. There are other symptoms that come and go, but I’ve recognized these symptoms more than others.
Anxiety definitely impacts my physical health, but I’m not as fearful of this as I used to be. Though it isn’t always easy to recognize anxiety’s impact on my body, I’ve improved a lot in the ways I manage anxiety. Early on in my mental health journey, I was afraid of my anxiety. It felt like it would appear out of nowhere, and I was defenseless against it.
Looking back, it’s easy that there were times when I exacerbated my own symptoms. By the nature of my reaction to the oncoming feelings of anxiety, I’d often get myself even more worked up. Even though that hasn’t quite gone away, my awareness has significantly improved. Having that bit of awareness doesn’t always solve the problem, but it helps.
The more I learn about myself, the better prepared I am to deal with my anxiety. That’s not to say that I’ll ever get rid of it completely, but it’s a big part of my mental health toolkit. Once I saw the connection between chronic anxiety and my physical health, it was easy to notice in my daily life. And day by day, I can work toward being the healthiest, happiest version of me I can be.