The persistent worry and fear of everyday situations lead to anxiety. It can show up as fast heart rate, rapid breathing and sweating. Anxiety affects us physically. The body is prone to be affected by anxiety issues. Addressing this, Therapist Anna Papaioannou wrote, "From head to toes, almost every system in your body can be impacted by anxiety. The physical effects of anxiety are due to activation of the sympathetic (fight-flight) response. This kicks your body into state of survival and prepares your body to protect yourself from perceived danger." Anna further noted down a few ways by which anxiety shows up physically:
Digestive issues: When in anxiety, we end up making a lot of changes in the diet and lifestyle – this affects the digestive system. Also, sympathetic activation ceases digestion, leading to constipation, diarrhoea and other stomach related issues.
Sleep and concentration issues: Elevated stress hormone can affect sleep, further leading to increasing activation – this creates a vicious cycle.
Tension in head and the face: Increased stress hormones and postural changes lead to clenching jaws, the positioning of the head and grinding teeth.
Changes in heart rate: Increased heart rate helps in pumping more blood to the big muscle groups – this further helps in preparing the body for combat or fleeing from threat situations.
Muscle tension and pain: In anxious people, the muscles are held for prolonged period of time. They are always preparing for action. This creates tension in the muscles, weakness, leading to pain.
"You may experience physical symptoms of anxiety without even cognitively feeling anxious.,” Anna further added. Deep breathing and prolonged muscle relaxation helps in combating anxiety issues hitting the body and affecting daily work. Imagery and consciously challenging irritational thoughts that may provide anxiety in us are some of the ways of preventing anxiety from having physical impact.