Surprising Anxiety Symptoms | Nausea and Muscle Tension
Before I started experiencing anxiety, I always thought the only symptoms one may experience were in the brain. Oh boy was I wrong… Don’t get me wrong, the mental manifestations are still there. The rumination, over-thinking, and catastrophising that come hand in hand with an anxiety disorder make up most of the psychological side of the illness, but who knew that physical symptoms could be so strong!
Nausea is my number one physical symptom that always comes to say hello when I am going through an anxious patch in my life. It is pretty commonly known that there is a huge link between the brain and the gut, and so when your mind is wreaking havoc it makes sense that your stomach may respond accordingly. As found on anxietycentre.com, this type of nausea can be described as an unsettled feeling in the stomach, the urge to vomit, distress in the stomach, or even bloating.
Now personally, my nausea was always worst first thing in the morning when I would start walking to work/university. So in order to cope with this I gave myself extra time in the morning to be able to wake up, and sit down to have breakfast, and would allocate 5 minutes of this time as “worry time”, then I could think about and write down everything that was running through my brain before I headed to work. This helped to limit the anxious nausea to the amount of time that I gave it. On days where this didn’t work (because let’s face it, there is almost never a quick fix it all for this stuff), I would also try to avoid having coffee (caffeine generally tends to heighten anxiety), or any foods that tend upset my stomach on the best of days so as to reduce the cause of my unsettledness.
Muscle Tension is also a huge symptom of mine. Ask anyone who has tried to give me a massage before, there are more knots in my shoulders than mines in a minefield. When I am caught in a worry cycle it is very easy for me to end up tensing up without even realising, and before you know it my shoulders will be up around my ears, and my thighs clenched together. From a scientific standpoint there is a very real explanation for this symptom. Being anxious will cause the body to release stress hormones into the system, which in turn triggers the fight or flight response, and this is known to cause muscles to contract. So if you imagine that feeling you get when you’re actually in immediate danger, where you body contracts and triggers you to chose whether you will stay and fight, or leave. This is the physical feeling in the body when you are experiencing an anxiety disorder.
This pain, and tensing can last for a couple of minutes, or it can be something that lasts for weeks on end, but it is definitely something that you can learn to cope with. Firstly, I religiously use my Acupressure Mat. If you aren’t sure what this is, its basically a big mat with lots of spikes on it that you lay down on, and the spikes release tension from pressure points in your back. Secondly, Yoga and meditation are life savers (you will probably hear me talk about yoga a lot, I’m a bit obsessed). I have recently found my home at Absolute Yoga & Pilates in Ballarat, and after having a very sporadic yoga routine, it feels so good to have somewhere that I can go regularly and keep up my self care. Since yoga is so about being in line with your breathe it really teaches you to calm the nervous system, and relax your muscles. This step is crucial for me to be able to get through the day without a myriad of pain killers!!