Imagine it is the middle of the night. While the rest of the neighborhood is sleeping, you are up sweeping the floors or diving into tomorrow’s workload.
During the daytime, you find yourself overburdened with chores, to-do lists, and mindless distractions. You tell yourself to relax, to take time for yourself.
However, every time you try to sit still for even a few minutes, you are filled with racing thoughts, jittery muscles, and fear.
You are exhausted but still, find yourself unable to stop moving.
Of course, you want to overcome your anxiety and live a more peaceful life. So, why then can’t you seem to slow down enough to do it?
Anxiety and Restlessness
Those who suffer from anxiety experience a wide range of symptoms. Both physical and mental, these side effects include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle soreness
- Trouble sleeping
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Excessive sweating
- Fear or nervousness
- Feeling lightheaded
- Racing heartbeat
- Difficulties breathing
Sufferers might experience few to all of the symptoms listed. But one symptom that all sufferers usually experience is restlessness. Anxiety and restlessness are seen as a pair—restlessness being the most common symptom experienced when dealing with anxiety.
Staying busy might seem like a good distraction tool. But this busyness, when caused by feelings of restlessness, actually makes you more exhausted, which, in-turn, only exasperates your anxiety.
The restlessness you feel when suffering from anxiety is not the same as when you are feeling bored. A restlessness that is the result of general anxiety is a form of persistent fight-or-flight reaction, in which your body is signaled that there is danger nearby and it must react by either fleeing or fighting.
Your flight-or-fight internal system is meant to protect you from harm. A surge of adrenaline released during times of immediate threats helps you high-tail it to safety. However, when there is a constant sense of stress and anxiety, this alert system can remain activated even without true external cause.
Therefore, when you are feeling nervous, can’t sit still, or remain on edge, what you are actually feeling is your body’s reaction to danger. The big question is: How do you turn it off?
Taming Your Anxiety and Restlessness Together
There are many great practices that can help subside the feelings of anxiety and restlessness. Some of these tools prove effective when implemented as daily habits, while others may require the assistance of a professional therapist.
Here are a few:
Exercises is a great structured activity that can use up some of that extra adrenaline in your system. It also releases “good hormones” such as endorphins to get you feeling happy.
Try starting your day or ending your evenings with a long walk around the neighborhood or an hour-long gym session to dispel the extra adrenaline and gain some positive feelings.
Deep breathing is one tool that can reduce anxiety and restlessness by slowing the mind and body down. Practiced meditation on a daily basis can help control levels of anxiety and calm your body’s senses when they are particularly heightened.
3. Cognitive Therapy
Anxiety and restlessness, though managed with at-home practices, prove best treated with professional help. Cognitive therapy is one treatment that many therapists choose when working with someone suffering from anxiety and restlessness.
Cognitive therapy helps you identify unhelpful thought patterns that may be the source of your anxiety and restlessness. In therapy you can learn to reframe these unhelpful thoughts into more useful and effective thoughts that do not cause anxiety.
It is a busy, hectic world out there. Many people find their days swamped under piles of paperwork, childcare, and chores. However, for some, this busy life spurs from feeling restlessness and general anxiety. Understanding how anxiety and restlessness are connected may provide the first steps towards recovery—treatment for the anxiety.