Anxiety and worry manifest in some pretty obvious ways - sweaty palms, shaky legs, shortness of breath, feeling like you might throw up everything you've ever eaten. But there are other, surprisingly common symptoms so strange that you wonder how on Earth they could possibly be connected to your worried state.
Here are six weird ones you may be experiencing.
As if whatever's making you anxious isn't enough, you can add passing gas and burping in public to your list of worries (lovely, right). Two things are to blame here: eating and drinking too quickly due to nerves, and an overactive gut. "Gas is created when the acid in your stomach is churning while nervousness runs throughout your body," says Anne Marie Albano, PhD, an associate professor of medical psychology at Columbia University Medical Center. Another culprit: swallowing too much air. As your stress levels increase, so does your rate of breathing?taking in extra air means you have to expel it at a quicker rate, too.
2. Icy Hands and Feet
Cold weather and poor circulation can leave your fingers and toes cold to the touch, but if you also have an uneasy feeling in your gut, there's a good chance anxiety is actually the cause. "When you're anxious, your blood flow is redirected away from your extremities and toward your larger organs in your torso," explains Albano. It's your basic "fight or flight" mode, necessary for your body to protect the heart and other organs essential to your survival. Unfortunately, your body doesn't know the difference between squaring off against a grizzly bear and being late for a sit-down with your boss, so even when your life isn't actually on the line, your body reacts as though it is.
3. Strange Rashes
There's an obvious connection between your skin and your emotions - blushing after a compliment, for example. But anxiety can also trigger unwelcome skin issues like eczema flare-ups or other sensitivities and allergies, says Albano. During stressful events, extra cortisol surges through your bloodstream, dulling your body's defenses and potentially turning that scented lotion that normally makes your skin feel silky and smooth into a pesky irritant.
4. Frequent Yawning
We do it when we're bored and when we're tired, but we tend to yawn when we're nervous too. "Some individuals, especially with generalized anxiety or panic, tend to breathe more rapidly than the average person," says Albano. That quickened breathing - not quite hyperventilating - makes your brain think you're not getting enough air, causing you to take those deep inhales.
5. Spacing Out
If you're having a serious anxiety issue, dreamlike feelings become all too real. Possibly the most unnerving (but thankfully, rare) anxiety symptom of all is the feeling of unreality, or the sensation that your surroundings aren't real, says Albano. It's almost like you're looking down on your body from up above - you're going through the motions of the task at hand, but you don't feel in control of your own mechanics. It's the fight or flight response at work again, trying to eliminate any unnecessary stimuli around you to deal with the issue at hand?in this case, your anxiety.
6. Hearing Phantom Rings
Have you ever heard or felt your phone go off, only to wind up checking a blank screen - Researchers have named this phenomenon “ringxiety” or “phantom vibrations" and "phantom ringing,” and according to a recent study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, people with higher attachment anxiety-like worrying whether your partner is as committed to the relationship as you are?may be more likely to experience this ghostly phenomenon. The study, which examined data from 168 undergraduate students, found that those who had high levels of attachment anxiety were more likely to have experienced phantom ringing and phantom notifications than their more laid-back counterparts, especially if they were expecting an important call or message.
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