It’s quite common for those of us who live, or have lived with, anxiety to bemoan, “These awful effects of anxiety must stop!” I have a serious question for anyone who has ever uttered similar words: what, specifically, do you hate about anxiety? Chances are, it’s the effects of anxiety that are wreaking havoc on you and your life.
“Anxiety” can be vague, and vagueness is very difficult to target. The awful effects of anxiety, in contrast, are concrete. When we can practice mindfulness meditation and be still and silent with our anxiety long enough to determine what it’s doing to us (no small task if anxiety has you so agitated you feel as though you might jump out of your own skin), we can pinpoint what, specifically, it is that must stop.
Some of the Effects of Anxiety Can Make Us Miserable
Anxiety’s symptoms can be different for different people, of course. However, some of the effects of anxiety are common to many. Perhaps some of these are part of your own experience:
• Overthinking, overthinking, overthinking: Anxiety can make our minds race with worries, fears, and what-ifs. Did I do this right? What if I did that wrong? Why did I say that? What did he mean by that? What if my loved one isn’t safe? On and on it goes, any time of day or night. While brushing your teeth, driving your kids to school, standing in line, grocery shopping, signing your name or lying in bed, wide awake, in the middle of the night — anxiety’s incessant thoughts are maddening.
• Memory making? More like memory taking. Anxiety can mess with memory. One reason for this is that it takes control of your mind so that you pay attention to the worries and fears it forces upon you. So when you lie awake at night ruminating about all of the things you said and did wrong in the last several days/weeks/months/years, but you are hard-pressed to remember what you ate for dinner or what your son told you about his day, begin to rest assured. This is an effect of anxiety, and it doesn’t have to stick around forever.
• Exhaustion and physical illness: Anxiety robs us of quality sleep. Further, it puts the brain and body on almost constant alert. Living in fight-or-flight mode is taxing. Anxious thoughts and feelings race through us so fast and fill us up so much that the effects of anxiety can include us feeling dizzy and nauseated and ready to vomit.
• Pain: Anxiety feels a lot like what I imagine being stuffed into a washing machine would feel like. The spinning, the ricocheting around the metal drum, and the water (don’t forget the water, filling the lungs and creating a drowning sensation) just plain hurt everywhere. One of anxiety’s cruel effects is that we can be in pain and want to rest, but our brain and body are so agitated that we cannot rest. Therefore, we continue to feel tired and in pain.
The Awful Effects of Anxiety Must Stop
Anxiety and its effects get in the way of life; therefore, they must stop. Thankfully, the effects of anxiety can be drastically reduced and even eliminated from our lives. It is possible to make it stop! Managing anxiety is a common theme on Anxiety-Schmanxiety, and past and future posts explore ways to reduce these horrible effects of anxiety.