7 signs of an anxiety disorder (with helpful calming techniques)


When anxiety symptoms begin to interfere with your life, this can be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Here are 7 common symptoms as well as tips to reduce them naturally:


1. Unrealistic or excessive worry

Allow yourself to think about the worst case scenario: What would happen if what you are worrying about took place? Most people who constantly worry about something never allow themselves to imagine the worst case. They are mentally focused on avoiding this worst case, and by doing this, they are holding themselves in a constant fear. Allow yourself to imagine the worst case you can think of, so that it can no longer control you. You will maybe even find a surprising solution to your worries by doing this. 


2. Inability to relax

A good way to calm down is to exercise. It does not matter, what kind of exercise this is, as long as you move your body. A peaceful walk after work will be all you need to relax and to let the energy move through your body. The inability to relax is rooted in blocked energy, which comes from negative thinking. By moving your body, you will be able to unblock energy and this will improve the way you feel. 


3. Difficulty falling asleep

You will maybe need to change your evening routine. Make sure you do not focus on negative things before you go to bed. Go for a walk, read or exercise. Meditation is also good for calming down. If all this does not help or if you cannot relax without watching your favourite show, then do this: Take a piece of paper and write down how you want to feel when you go to bed. This could be for example "relaxed, happy and comfortable". Find your own words for how you want to feel shortly before you fall asleep. You can even create a mood board for this and place it next to your bed. By doing this, you are mentally preparing yourself for sleeping and because the body always follows the mind, you will probably find it much easier to fall asleep.


4. Racing heart

Deep breathing helps best if you are experiencing heart palpitations. It's very important to not try to stop the symptom, but rather "race with it", like you would accompany a racing dog or cat. Run with your heart and breathe deeply, don't resist and try to relax. See a doctor if heart palpitations tend to last longer than a few seconds. 


5. Chest pain

Anxiety chest pain or pressure can be frightening, but you can take control of your mind and body with simple techniques. Although these techniques may not work every time, you will still be able to control your anxiety symptoms by understanding that it's your emotions which cause these symptoms. So ask yourself: Are you worrying about something you cannot control? Are you fearful of an outcome that's unlikely? Are you dreading a situation lying ahead? Try to find the source of the anxiety (you will maybe want to do this with the help of a therapist) and then work to put it into perspective. Although anxiety symptoms seem to come out of the blue, they are in most cases strongly connected to something that just happened and which created a certain emotion in the person suffering from this anxiety attack.


6. Shortness of breath

This is a very common symptom of anxiety disorder and it can be very frightening. You can calm your mind and body by focussing on your breathing, but you have to prepare yourself and practice this every day: Give your breath attention, as if you were watching it in a laboratory. Ask yourself: What is my breathing telling me? How can I "read my breath"? Does it seem anxious or calm? What is the rhythm telling me? By doing this, you will become the observer of your breath and this will instantly calm you down. It takes practice to do this, but you will only need a few minutes per day so that you will be prepared for the next time you experience shortness of breath.  


7. Fear of dying

From my experience, the best way to deal with fear of dying during an anxiety attack is to ground yourself and feel your body. The reason why people feel this fear of dying during anxiety is because of the amount of emotional pressure. They are literally trying to leave their body, in order to escape unpleasant emotions. There is no way out of facing whatever is causing this, and in most cases it can help to speak to a therapist or counsellor. Fear of dying is a sign that your anxiety disorder has reached an acute phase, but starting to seek help can calm this fear down immediately. 


Continue reading: Positive CBT for treating anxiety


I'm Natalie Marby, an English speaking therapist in Hamburg, Germany. I am half British and half German and I offer psychotherapy and counselling in English, especially for expats living in Hamburg. To contact me, you can send me an email or call me: +49040 46090233. I look forward to hearing from you!


More information: Fees and location.

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