Mental Health

Mandy Kloppers

Common anxiety symptoms and how to feel calmer

Do you know how to feel calmer? Everyone worries but for some people they struggle with excessive amount of anxiety and worry and report the follow symptoms;

  • Chronic worries running through their mind – no matter how hard you try not to worry or not think about things these thoughts keep popping into the mind against your will
  • Worries about what we value – we usually worry about whatever is important to us in that time in our life and may change as we go through life. For instance; someone may be excessively worried during school about performance, then relationships, then work, then home/security in the family
  • Uncontrollable anxiety – having a strong desire to be in control of emotions yet feeling as though anxiety and worry has taken control over them and there is nothing that can stop it
  • Physical effect – anxiety causes nervousness, nausea, dry throat, tension, restlessness, heart racing, headaches
  • Hating uncertainty – wanting to know what is going to happen in the future, predicting things that may or may not happen, finding the experience of “not knowing” very difficult indeed
  • Sleep disturbance – having trouble falling asleep, maintaining sleep because their mind is constantly ticking over. In addition to sleep deprivation, anxiety can make us exhausted and so have a need to take naps during the day.
  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge.
  • Being easily fatigued.
  • Having difficulty concentrating.
  • Being irritable.
  • Having headaches, muscle aches, stomachaches, or unexplained pains.
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry.
  • Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep.
  • dizziness.
  • tiredness.
  • a noticeably strong, fast or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
  • muscle aches and tension.
  • trembling or shaking.
  • dry mouth.
  • excessive sweating.
  • shortness of breath.

Your anxiety bully

Different ways in which anxiety can bully you:


  1. AVOIDANCE: This is the most obvious one – when bully gives us a reason not to do an experiment. Examples for avoidance;
    1. Will do it tomorrow
    2. Its raining don’t want to go out
    3. Ran out of time
    4. Wasn’t clear what the therapist wanted me to do


  1. BLAMING: Bully can distract you from treatment by finding faults with the therapist, therapy, environment etc.
    1. My therapist is too tough/soft.
    2. I am not able to sleep because of noise so I can’t concentrate in therapy.


  1. BARGAINING: Bully can try and undermine experiments by ‘bargaining’ about how you do them – i.e.
    1. leave things so that you can ‘undo’ behavioural experiments,
    2. only going half way,
    3. doing pre-rituals or safety behaviours – so even though you may be doing the experiment, you have bargained with the bully that you are not going to do it 100%, which can really devalue the treatment.

Looking at Avoidance

Avoidance plays a major part in dealing with anxiety and those who sink into major anxiety are in the grasps of serious avoidance. For many, it can be tempting to effectively give up, and hide away from the world, but the truth is avoidance does nothing but fuel a life that is less enjoyable, less rewarding and more problematic. One of the major signs of avoidance is when people start to avoid the things they normally enjoy, or even loathe, for that matter. Sometimes, we overindulge in activities we enjoy as well, in order to block out the outside world, so it’s important to know when you are enjoying something and when you are relying on it as a blocker. Suffering from anxiety takes time to work through, but dealing with avoidance is one of the best ways to do it.

Very often, doing the exact opposite of what you feel like doing is the best way to overcome your anxiety, in the long run.


How CBT can help:

What’s so important about negative thinking is that according to CBT, it’s not events themselves that upset you, but the meanings you give them. Your negative thinking can block you from seeing things that don’t fit with what you believe are true. In other words, you are effectively stuck in this self-perpetuating, continuous cycle that will continue until you can get yourself out of it or reach out for help. Just by joining this self-help program you have taken the first step and luckily CBT is one of best ways to break this cycle of negative thinking.

When treating anxiety, CBT can help you to change negative ideas, unrealistic expectations and overly critical self-judgment, which can often lead to, or lengthen, anxiety. CBT will help you to recognize which problems are significant and which ones are minor. It can also help you to develop positive life goals and a more realistic self-perception.