7 Horrible Symptoms of Anxiety Summed Up and Simplified - Carl Vernon
Anxiety, Depression, Fear, Happiness, Health & Diet, Health Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety, Stress

7 Horrible Symptoms of Anxiety Summed Up and Simplified

Headache. Neck ache. Sore throat. Fever. Fatigue. Sleeping problems. An itchy toe. You name it – any symptom can be related to anxiety.

I was in and out of the doctor’s surgery.

I didn’t have a clue if I were coming or going – and I don’t think the doctor did either.

The constant need for reassurance was the overriding issue.

If you’re stuck in a cycle of anxiety (fear), it’s likely you’ll be visiting the doctor often. It’s also very likely you’ll be hitting the internet to see Dr Google for answers.

You might stay stuck in the cycle because you’re not finding the answers you’re looking for.

Because I know how deep the need for answers and constant reassurance goes, I want to give you some quick answers to typical anxiety-related symptoms and disorders that you won’t hear from the doctor.

Health Anxiety

Getting straight to the point, health anxiety is the fear of death. If you’re familiar with my DP Rule from Anxiety Rebalance, you’ll know that our two primary fears are Death and People. When you start dealing with these fears, health anxiety becomes much less of an issue.

Social Anxiety

At its very basic level, social anxiety is caring too much about what people think. When we feel like crap, we prefer to do it in the comfort of our own homes. Longer-term issues with social anxiety arise because avoidance feels good (at first). As time goes by, social anxiety gets worse when we appreciate a reclusive lifestyle isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. When we get comfortable with the fact that EVERYONE deals with the same issues, including social anxiety, we stop feeling so isolated. We also improve relationships with others – and in turn, drop the social anxiety.

You Care Too Much Book

Panic attacks

In short, panic attacks are bullies that we create when we’re dealing with high anxiety. We become hypersensitive to all our bodily feelings, and when something is off kilter, even slightly, it can cause us to panic (have a panic attack). When you start managing high anxiety better by implementing all the proper lifestyle and mindset changes, panic attacks move on – like all bullies who don’t get attention.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Summed up, OCD is created because we feel out of control in at least one area of our lives. OCD is a way for us to try and get that control back – even if it means coming up with pointless routines that don’t mean anything. So if you hate your job, for example, and feel like there is nothing you can do about it, you might develop OCD as a way of coping with it. Getting back in control (or at least feel like you’re in control) will stop the need for compulsive behaviour.

Constant Worrying Thoughts (Overthinking)

In a nutshell, constant worrying thoughts are brought about by the ‘what if’ type thoughts we produce when we’re anxious and stressed. ‘What if this. . . What if that. . .’.  One thought leads to the next and, before you know it, a small problem has turned into a monster. Learning to control our thoughts will stop the monster from getting out of control.

Depression (Depressive thoughts & low mood)

Very simplified, depression and low mood is a lack of energy and willpower. Being highly anxious and stressed zaps our energy. Energy gives you the get-up-and-go you need for the things you want (and need) to do in life – even the basic everyday things take energy. You can’t do anything without energy. When you’re ready to start working on upping your energy levels through various methods, like good diet and exercise, it helps combat the negative and depressive thoughts.

Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia put briefly, is when you play with the wrong odds. When you’re agoraphobic, the fear of leaving your comfort zone (usually your house) becomes the overwhelming fear and prevents you from living a normal life. The fear is based on bad odds. When you appreciate that the odds are heavily favoured towards leaving your house and going to live your life as you want to, the door gets opened and a new comfort zone is built.

Anxiety Rebalance
Health Anxiety - Let Go of the Obsessive Thoughts
Anxiety, Depression, Fear, Happiness, Health & Diet, Health Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Stress

Health Anxiety: My Experience, and What My Trip to A&E Taught Me

It feels like a constant and endless battle.

Those obsessive thoughts running through your mind about your health or the health of the people closest to you just don’t let up.

What else could I be talking about but health anxiety?

My experience with health anxiety

After a while, I became relatively immune to the obsessive thoughts about my health. I was having so many negative thoughts about my health throughout the day, I began to think they were normal.

With this said, the thing that got me, each and every time, were the exaggerated obsessive thoughts. You know the ones I mean.

‘Is this headache the brain tumour I’ve always thought it was?’

‘Is this bit of chest pain the heart attack I’ve been expecting?’

I could have three headaches a day over the process of a month, and no matter how irrational it was, I’d still be convinced the next headache was ‘the one’.

It was the fear about the exaggerated thoughts that created the obsession.

The fear became my absolute focus and it consumed me, day and night.

It led to the endless trips to the hospital for ECGs, tests and scans – all coming back with negative results.

I’m reluctant to say ‘positive results’ because, at the time, I just wanted a diagnosis so I could move on.

Surely all these symptoms can’t be related to anxiety?

They were, but that didn’t stop the trip to A&E.

The trip to A&E

In my early 20’s, I left work early because I was convinced I was going to die. I ended up driving straight to A&E in total panic.

I approached the lady at the desk, quietly informing her that I was experiencing chest pains, and it felt like there was a tight band around my heart. (I still wasn’t sure whether or not there was something seriously wrong, so I was hesitant and slightly embarrassed. At this point, I also had no idea I was suffering from anxiety. I didn’t know what anxiety was at the time.)

I was sat down and told to take some pills while I waited. I think they were painkillers. I didn’t ask what they were, I just took them and waited.

I sat in the waiting area with the people around me bleeding and coughing. Their very real ailments kept me wondering whether or not my symptoms were real. There was no doubt the chest pains I was experiencing were real – but were they bad enough for me to be here? It just added to the confusion.

After about an hour and a half (which seemed more like three days) I was called through to speak to a nurse. I explained my symptoms, including the chest pain, and she took me through to lie on a bed, where I was strapped up to a blood pressure monitor.

As the nurse put the pads over my chest, I looked over at the monitor with the bouncy line and numbers. Did they mean I was dying? The unknown was enough to increase my heart rate tenfold.

As I laid on the bed, about half an hour passed, and I began to calm down as I appreciated I was in a pretty good place if anything serious was wrong. With the new state of mind, the chest pain and tightness began to subside.

The nurse came over to look at the monitor results. She didn’t say anything, which was a little concerning. Does that mean it’s bad news? She didn’t seem too concerned, which added to the conflicting feelings. I was reluctant to say anything – I didn’t want to know if it were bad news.

She came back five minutes later and reassured me that everything was OK. The test results were fine.

Although grateful for the news, I didn’t jump off the bed in delight. I was still confused by the whole experience.

She mentioned something about stress and something called a ‘panic attack’, but it was brief with no real substance. The focus was on the test results, and those being OK. I was confirmed as a free man – free to leave whenever I wanted.

I got up and started walking out of the hospital back to my car.

It was true. I was a free man – free from the hospital, that is. But the same couldn’t be said for how I felt inside. I didn’t feel free. For a long time after that experience, I remained a prisoner to the fear that something similar could happen again.

But, as with everything in life, if you choose to, you can just about get a positive out of anything. The positives I draw on this experience is the ability to share it, along with some of the answers that have helped me.

Here are three of the standout things I learnt from the A&E experience – and the many other health anxiety-related experiences like it.

Your mind is very powerful

Never underestimate the power of your mind. It can concoct all sorts of anxiety-related symptoms. You name it, your mind can come up with it.

It’s incredibly difficult, but it’s worthwhile spending some time considering whether or not the symptoms you experience are anxiety-related.

Get in the habit of questioning your symptoms, and not just accepting them.

When you experience numbness, is that anxiety?

When you feel sick, is that anxiety?

When you feel dizzy, is that anxiety?

When you’re at their mercy, anxiety-related symptoms will dominate you. You can only start breaking that pattern when you’re willing to question them.

When you’re prepared to say: ‘Wait a minute. Is this symptom real, or is it anxiety tricking me again?’, you naturally and instinctively up your level of self-awareness.

The panic that health anxiety-related symptoms create isn’t as powerful and doesn’t last as long when your self-awareness is higher.

Health anxiety will have a pretty hard time dominating you when you’re self-aware. It won’t be able to trick you as often. It will still have a good go, and even with a surge of rational thinking, it will succeed at times.

But those times will be limited, as long as you keep questioning.

The doctor’s surgery is an addiction

(I’m also going to include Dr Google in this example. When we’re not in the doctor’s surgery, we’re usually asking Dr Google.)

I’ve made jokes about how much I visited the doctor in Anxiety Rebalance.

It’s the constant need of reassurance that does it. The ‘is it, isn’t it’ back-and-forth internal conversation we have about whether or not it is anxiety has us visiting the doctor (a lot).

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

And it’s hindsight that tells me, unless you have a genuine need to do so, visiting the doctor only fuels the anxiety further. Ultimately, you get nowhere. If your symptoms are anxiety-related, the diagnosis is always the same, no matter how many times you go. The visits only add to frustration and despair.

This is where rational thinking comes into play.

Rather than jump straight on the phone to make the doctor’s appointment, give yourself some space, sit down, and question whether or not it’s anxiety tricking you. If it is, it’s time to realign your focus.

(If you have any doubt, you should always speak to your doctor. Sometimes we need the reassurance to move on. Just remember that, if you’re seeking reassurance often, it is counterproductive.)

Focus is key

You have a couple of choices when anxiety-related symptoms are hitting you.

  1. Allow the symptoms to keep the fear cycle turning. Sit still and let all the anxiety-related ‘what if’ type thoughts attack you. Focus on the fear of death, and allow it to consume you – including all the things you can’t control.
  2. Realign your focus, and focus on what it is you can control.

If you feel like there is nothing in your life you can control, then I suggest you start there. There is always something existing or something you can create that can give you a higher level of control. Focus on that, and everything else, including your health anxiety, won’t play as big of a role in your life.

When I did #1, I stayed trapped. I focused on checking my body for imperfections and continued to worry about the headaches. I was obsessed with the ‘unknown’ and everything I didn’t have control of. The fear created was unbearable.

When I did #2 (which was more difficult), I regained a little more control each time. I focused on the things I could do something about, and that created a new mindset.

Health anxiety isn’t just about worrying about your health. It’s feeling out of control. The only way to balance that is to get some more control.

This creates the only question that matters:

What do you have, or what can you create, that will help you gain more control?

Can you get more control over your job? In a relationship? Doing a hobby?

Realign your focus, and with time and more control, you’ll deal with your health anxiety in an entirely different way.

Anxiety Rebalance
Will I ever overcome anxiety
Anxiety, Depression, Fear, Happiness, Health Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety, Stress, Success & Wellbeing

Will I Ever Overcome Anxiety?

Anxiety has a great way of making us feel stuck. It manipulates us into believing all sorts – mostly the negative stuff that keeps us trapped. How do we get out of this trap so we can stop asking questions like will I ever overcome anxiety?

Belief is a powerful thing. Very powerful.

Your life is shaped by what you believe.

How you feel tomorrow will be dictated by what it is you believe right now.

Your belief system is based on what has happened to you in the past. For example, if you’ve experienced panic attacks in a supermarket, it’s likely you won’t like supermarkets and you’ll avoid them.

You’re following habits that you’ve developed over years, sometimes decades.

Some of these habits will be serving you well. Some not so well – particularly the ones that keep you stuck and trapped – like the beliefs built around anxiety.

But that’s not to say you can’t change your habits, and therefore change how you think about anxiety – including the belief that you’ll never overcome anxiety.


The power of belief

What is a belief, and why is it so important when it comes to anxiety?

A belief is something you’re certain about.

When you think about it (whatever ‘it’ is), you come to a quick conclusion about what it means to you.

You can believe anything you like.

‘I’m the most beautiful person on the planet’, for example.

You’ve probably got a friend who believes this to be true? Maybe it’s far from reality. But to the person who believes it to be true, other people’s opinions rarely matter.

That is the power of belief.

And the good news is you have this power. You can believe what you want.

That includes your belief about anxiety, and whether or not you’ll overcome it.

4 minute mile belief

Beliefs are funny old things. They tend to catch on.

Most people won’t believe in something until it’s reality.

Like the four-minute mile that Roger Bannister broke in 1954. Before then, it was considered impossible to do. Nobody had done it, and nobody thought it was worthwhile attempting it.

That was until Roger broke it. As soon as he did, lots of others started breaking the four-minute barrier.

Other people started to achieve it because they thought if he can do it, I can too.

And that’s how I want you to think about overcoming anxiety.

There are lots of people who have been in your position (me included) and changed for the better. They’ve overcome all sorts – high anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, agoraphobia, social anxiety, health anxiety, depression – you name it.

This knowledge should give you the belief that you can do the same.


Change the way you think

You can’t change an outcome without first changing the way you think about it.

If you don’t believe you can win the race, you won’t.

Believe you can win the race and you will

If you don’t believe you can overcome anxiety, you can’t.

Fundamentally, whatever it is you’re telling yourself and whatever it is you’re choosing to believe, is true.

That is the power you hold.

Nobody else holds this power – only you.

Let’s simplify this with two possible beliefs.

Belief #1: I will never overcome anxiety.

Belief #2: Anxiety is normal. It will always be part of my life, and that’s not a bad thing. I’ll continue to face the challenges it brings knowing that I can handle anything that comes my way. There is nothing that I can’t deal with.

Two very different belief systems, each as powerful as the other.

Which one will you choose to believe? Because whichever one you choose to believe is true.

Maybe you’ll choose to believe one of your own?

Whatever it is you choose to believe, remember it’s that belief that is defining your future. It’s dictating how you feel now, tomorrow, and next year.

With this in mind, it pays to be selective about what it is you choose to believe.


Anxiety is normal

One of the most powerful beliefs you can possess is that anxiety is normal.

Knowing anxiety is normal is the first step you can take to changing the way you think about it.

Remember that you don’t need a cure for anxiety, and you don’t need to get rid of it.

Anxiety is normal.

When you’re dealing with anxiety, it’s higher than normal levels of anxiety – that’s it.

When you’ve stopped the pointless battle against anxiety, the second step in dealing with negative thoughts connected with anxiety is identifying which ones are no good for.

The typical negative thoughts associated with anxiety look a little like this:

‘I’m going to have a panic attack when I go to the supermarket.’

‘There is no way I can go to that party.’

‘I’m going to feel anxious tomorrow.’

Remember – these thoughts aren’t real.

They’re only real when you want them to be real – when you choose to believe them.

When you become more conscious about these types of negative thoughts that are fuelled by anxiety, you can do something about them. You can stop them before they get out of control and start influencing your belief system.

If you keep going to the supermarket and experiencing panic attacks, for example, you’re approaching the situation with the wrong belief system. You’re being led by thoughts like ‘I’m going to have a panic attack if I go to the supermarket.’ That’s the type of thought keeping you trapped.

You’ve told yourself you’re going to lose before you’ve started.

The steps you take before going to the supermarket are more important than the ones you take when you’re there.

The outcome is done before you’ve left your house.

In other words, if you approach a situation with negative anxiety-related thoughts dictating your actions, it will lead to the outcome you don’t want. In the instance of going to the supermarket, a panic attack.

If you want to overcome panic attacks, high anxiety, or any negative beliefs about your life, you have to consciously change the way you think – change your belief system.

Go back to the two beliefs, and pick a statement similar to #2.

Reinforce that belief in your mind.

It may not be the truth right now, but that’s not the point.

What we believe now will manifest as reality in the future – even if it’s not true right now.

Remember to be choosy about what thoughts you believe. They are dictating your life.

Anxiety Rebalance
Why do I have OCD?
Anxiety, Fear, Happiness, Health Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety, Stress

Why do I have OCD?

Routines and rituals are commonplace with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). But why does OCD have this power over us, and what can we do about it?

What is it for you?

Cleaning rituals? Scanning your body for abnormalities (health anxiety)? Checking doors and locks? Counting routines?

Just a few of the common routines and rituals OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) will have us do.

To the balanced mind, these things might seem crazy.

But to someone who suffers from OCD (like I used to), these routines and rituals are very real.

So, the question is:

Why does OCD have this power over us?

It comes down to one thing: control.

OCD and control

An OCD-related routine or ritual is a way for us to try and take back control.

When we have OCD, we feel out of control in an area of our life, and OCD gives us a way to try and take back control.

OCD Washing hands

OCD is a dysfunctional way of trying to deal with our anxiety, stress and problems. It’s not pleasant, and it’s not something we want to be stuck with for the rest of our lives.

This is the exact reason why we need to manage our intrusive thoughts in a different, more functional and constructive way.

Knowing that we use OCD to try to take back control doesn’t make OCD acceptable.

I mention it here because it’s a nice thing to know.

Like all anxiety-related conditions, there is a complexity that surrounds them, giving us the belief that overcoming them is impossible.

It’s not.

The same goes for OCD.

When we’re armed with answers, we can overcome anything – OCD included.

You now know what it takes to overcome OCD: A new way of taking control of the areas of our lives that make us feel out of control.

The first step to making this happen is to drop the false belief of negative consequences.


Negative consequences OCD has us believing

The real power behind OCD is consequence.

If we don’t do a routine or ritual, OCD will have us believe a negative consequence is in store for us.

That consequence could be any number of things.

Those intrusive thoughts will have you believing all sorts – and it’s usually the worse case scenario.

When we put our rational thinking cap on, THIS IS COMPLETE RUBBISH.

How would not cleaning our hands five times in a row mean we’re going to die?

I’m not watering down the power of OCD here. I know first-hand how insidious OCD is.

If you’ve suffered from OCD for some time, it’s a very hard habit to break.

But it can be broken.

The way to start breaking the habit is identifying the areas of your life you feel are out of your control.


Getting the control back

The most common areas of our lives that cause us stress and anxiety can be split into three.

They all intertwine with each other, but these are the three categories most likely to be affecting your anxiety and stress levels – and therefore your OCD.

> Money

> Relationships (family & friends)

> Work

Most of us aren’t great at dealing with our stress and anxiety, so we tend to try and sweep it under the carpet.

Sweeping issues under the carpet

That’s when issues arise.

When we don’t face our anxiety (fear), it continues to grow. This growth usually comes with more anxiety-related issues, like OCD.

It starts with a bit of stress, and that quickly grows into something bigger, until we find ourselves dealing with intrusive thoughts that make us do these OCD-related routines and rituals.

What area of your life do you feel is out of control?

When you can bring your anxiety (fear) to the surface, you can start dealing with it.

Allowing your anxiety to get bottled inside, or trying to sweep your fear under the carpet, will only mean more issues (including OCD) that continue to get bigger.

Some fears (anxieties) are a little trickier to bring to the surface so you might need professional help, like counselling, to help you deal with them.

When you’re prepared to face your issues, you’ll begin to take back control.

This control will help you deal with your OCD, and with time and practice, you’ll find those intrusive thoughts, routines and rituals, will naturally fall away.

Anxiety Rebalance
Google Anxiety
Anxiety, Depression, Fear, Happiness, Health Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Stress

Why Am I Addicted to Searching My Anxiety Symptoms Online? (With Dr Google)

An anxiety-related symptom comes up that makes us panic. Panicking makes us jump online to ask Dr Google for reassurance. Why do we do it, even when we know it’s doing us no good, and what can we do about it?

Health anxiety is a real pain in the a**.

And that’s exactly what we’re talking about here – health anxiety.

It’s health anxiety (also know as hypochondria) that makes us hit the internet searching our anxiety-related symptoms.

The biggest issue with this is Dr Google.

He’s not the nicest or best-qualified doctor to ask.

It’s always the worst case scenario with Dr Google.

Dr Google

A headache is a brain tumour, and indigestion is a heart attack.

YOU HAVE FIVE MINUTES TO LIVE AND SHOULD SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION!

This isn’t the best thing to see when you’re already anxious and panicking.

It’s little wonder so many of us call for an ambulance when we’re dealing with health anxiety, only to be told there is nothing wrong with us.

The need for reassurance

I was an addict.

If I got a headache, or a bit of chest pain, or a mark on my body, I’d hit the internet asking Dr Google if I was OK.

9 times out of 10, he’d tell me I wasn’t OK. His advice was to seek immediate medical attention.

Talk about raising your anxiety and panic levels through the roof!

It was the constant need for reassurance that was the culprit.

When you’re dealing with health anxiety (hypochondria), you want constant reassurance.

It’s down to one of our primary fears (death).

In Anxiety Rebalance, I call it the DP rule.

It’s this primary fear that causes us to panic and search symptoms online.

When we deal with this fear, it stops the addiction of searching anxiety-related symptoms online with Dr Google.

The way we can deal with it is by realigning our focus.


Realign your focus

When an anxiety-related symptom comes up, it becomes our absolute focus.

Almost as though nothing else matters.

Intense focus

We get trapped in a cycle and keep doing the same thing over and over again.

The pattern looks a little like this:

ANXIETY-RELATED SYMPTOM > NEED FOR REASSURANCE > ASK DR GOOGLE > MORE PANIC & ANXIETY

…and the cycle continues.

That is until we break it. And we break it by realigning our focus.

We get more of whatever it is we focus on.

If you’re focusing on your anxiety-related symptoms, there are no prizes for guessing what you’ll get more of.

That cycle will keep going until we break the pattern using focus.

Breaking this pattern takes just one small step.

The next time an anxiety-related symptom comes up and you feel the urge to hit the internet asking Dr Google for advice and reassurance, ask yourself this question:

Is this anxiety tricking me?

Looking back, with the advantage of hindsight, I can say that most (if not all) of my anxiety-related symptoms were made up in my head.

Because I focused on my health and my symptoms, new ones would pop-up from nowhere.

The symptoms would cause me to panic and I’d follow the same pattern over and over again.

ANXIETY-RELATED SYMPTOM > NEED FOR REASSURANCE > ASK DR GOOGLE > MORE PANIC & ANXIETY

Nothing changed.

That was until the day I sat at my laptop and thought to myself, hang on! Is this anxiety tricking me again?

Rather than jump straight onto the internet, I paused.

The anxiety (the strong need for reassurance) was doing everything in its power to get me to ask Dr Google for advice and reassurance, but I held back.

It was this slight pause that made all the difference.

It gave me the little breathing space I needed to check reality and use rational thinking.

Overcoming health anxiety takes time & practice

Don’t expect overnight results when it comes to overcoming health anxiety.

It’s a habit you built up over time.

It needs time and practice to unravel the habit – just like how it formed.

Aim to keep building on that breathing space I just mentioned.

As you continue questioning your health anxiety with rational thought, that breathing space will get longer and longer.

With time and practice, you’ll eventually get to a point when an anxiety-symptom comes up and you know instantly that it’s anxiety tricking you.

You’ll then reach the point when Dr Google serves you no more purpose.

*Beats fist up to the air*

Yes!


Should I speak to my doctor about health anxiety?

It can be hard distinguishing between real symptoms and anxiety-related symptoms. But when we use our rational thinking, most of us know the difference.

We might not know immediately, but anxiety-related symptoms tend to subside.

If you’re in any doubt about any symptoms, you should always speak to your doctor.

You might need confirmation and reassurance to move forward.

Just be cautious not to keep visiting the doctor based on anxiety-related symptoms.

It can lead to the same frustrating cycle that asking Dr Google takes you on.

If you haven’t spoken to your doctor about anxiety or health anxiety, that’s always one of the first steps to overcoming anxiety you can take.

The most important thing is you get your thoughts out in the open and talk – so you can start dealing with the cause of anxiety, get past health anxiety, and stop searching your symptoms online.

Aim to close the door (or laptop) on Dr Google, stay focused on what it is you want, and keep moving forward.

Anxiety Rebalance
The first step to overcoming anxiety
Anxiety, Depression, Fear, Happiness, Health Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety, Stress, Success & Wellbeing

The First Step to Overcome Anxiety

You’ve recognised you’ve been dealing with high anxiety, or you’ve been diagnosed with anxiety by your doctor. What’s the first step to overcoming anxiety?

The very first step is appreciating that anxiety is normal.

Don’t get wrapped in the myth that you have something abnormally wrong with you.

1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health condition at any one time, including anxiety.

You are definitely not alone.

If this stat wasn’t enough to reassure you, it’s worth noting that we ALL have anxiety.

There are only a few differences between normal anxiety and high anxiety.

High anxiety is always temporary

Right now, you’re experiencing higher than normal levels of anxiety – that’s it.

Don’t complicate it. It’s that simple.

The Rebalance Scale

And what that means is two important things:

  1. To begin getting back to where you want to be (normal levels of anxiety), all you have to do is look to reduce (rebalance) your anxiety levels.
  2. The high anxiety that is a plague to you right now is temporary. It might feel like it’s here to stay, but it’s not. It will pass. It’s just a question of when – not if.

This knowledge should give you the strength and belief you need to move forward and face your anxiety head-on.


Face your anxiety head-on

Anxiety is fear.

And like fear, if we don’t face it, it will control us for however long we let it.

Think of it like this…

How will you ever know you’ve overcome the fear of spiders if you keep avoiding them?

It’s only when you’re able to look them straight in the eye (or eight eyes) you know you’re on the right track.

Courage - Carl Vernon

We have to keep facing our anxiety (fears) to overcome it.

That thing that is causing you anxiety – whether it’s social anxiety, health anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia (leaving your house), or a combination of them all – you have to keep facing up to it by taking action.


Take action

There is one thing that, above anything else, has continually got me out of the mire.

That thing is action.

Anxiety likes to keep you trapped and stuck in the mud.

When we feel stuck, high anxiety has an opportunity to catch up with us.

Don’t let it.

Leave high anxiety behind by taking action.

This action doesn’t need to be anything big. Taking small steps will get you to where you want to be – that’s all it takes.

These small steps will quickly lead you to where you want to be.

By taking action, you’re defining your future. You’re in control of your journey. Not anxiety.

The journey

Today is the first step on your new journey.

This is your opportunity.

It’s up to you where you want it to take you.

You’re here, right now, which means you’re already on the right track.

How are you going to keep moving forward? What small action are you going to take?

If you haven’t already, one of the most powerful steps you can make is to talk.

Talking about anxiety doesn’t make you weaker, it makes you stronger.

When we bottle things inside, they seem a hundred times bigger than they are – the same goes for anxiety.

That first small step could be arranging an appointment with a counsellor.

It could be getting some coaching.

Speaking to someone impartial – someone who understands – is sometimes the biggest step we’ll ever make.

Anxiety Rebalance
Anxiety Rebalance stones
Anxiety, Depression, Happiness, Health Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety, Stress

Anxiety Rebalance: Where Do You Come on The Rebalance Scale?

What does BALANCE mean to you? How do you know when you’ve achieved it, and what’s the end goal? These are all important questions, and to help answer them I’ve put together the Rebalance Scale.

The Rebalance Scale

SCALE 7: Panic

Panic – my best friend for many years! Obviously, I’m being sarcastic – there is nothing about panic that would ever make me class it as a friend. As a high-anxiety sufferer, I have no doubt you’ll know all about it. You’ll know that it sits at the top of the scale because it represents the most extreme form of anxiety and causes an array of unwanted symptoms, typically including sweating, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitations, shaking, numbness, tingling, chest pain and discomfort, loss of breath, a smothering or choking sensation, a dry mouth, a churning stomach, chills and hot flushes … and any other symptom the mind can muster.

At the height of my high anxiety, panic attacks were a daily occurrence. Some were caused by obvious triggers, such as going to the supermarket. (The supermarket was a particular struggle for me, and always induced panic.) At other times, a panic attack would creep up on me without warning. I could be doing something as trivial as watching TV, when all of sudden I’d start to feel disorientated and uncomfortable. Because nothing obvious was causing these feelings, I’d panic because I didn’t know what was going on.

It didn’t matter how many times I experienced panic attacks and got through them, each time I was convinced there was something more sinister going on. I really believed I was ill and had a serious medical condition. It was incredibly frustrating. I’d plead with the doctor: ‘Please diagnose me with something – anything – so I can stop this torment and move on.’ But, as in so many other cases of panic, that diagnosis never came.

Examples of panic

  • You regularly experience sharp bursts of panic created by anxious thoughts. These thoughts sometimes escalate into panic attacks, which can last for varying periods of time.
  • You’re able to recognise why you feel panicky (for example, being in a place that makes you feel uncomfortable), but you’re not always sure.
  • Panic can be sporadic and unpredictable, sometimes creeping up on you when you least expect it. For example, while driving you start to feel a smothering sensation, which causes a panic attack.
  • Symptoms of panic (most likely chest pain) cause you to fear for your life and seek emergency medical assistance.
  • You regularly feel the urge to get away from a situation and retreat to your ‘safe place’.
  • You avoid certain situations and places where you have previously panicked, such as a supermarket or restaurant.
  • When you experience panic you sometimes feel like you are an observer, detached from your environment, looking on with a sense of unreality.
  • Panic sometimes makes you feel like you’re ‘going mad’, and the thought of losing control scares you.

SCALE 6: High anxiety

High anxiety is best explained using the analogy of a swimming duck. Everything above water (on the outside) might appear calm, but underneath the water (on the inside) you’re frantically paddling, trying to hold things together. I spent most of the fifteen years I suffered living like this. I’d be sitting on my sofa watching TV, yet feel like I was at war on the frontline. From opening my eyes in the morning to going to bed at night, high anxiety ruled my life, and all my decisions were based around it.

Examples of high anxiety

  • You avoid crowded places such as supermarkets, because they make you feel light-headed, dizzy, disorientated, or as if you might faint.
  • You don’t like to be left alone and have developed a dependency on somebody close to you (a partner, friend or family member).
  • You like to be in control of everything in your life.
  • You pay attention to your health and exaggerate symptoms: you think a headache might be a brain tumour, and chest pain could mean you’re going to have a heart attack.
  • You’re often ill and prone to illness, suffering from aches, pains, headaches and numbness in certain areas of your body, including the chest, neck and back.
  • You’re picky about what you eat and drink because you’re conscious about how different foods make you feel.
  • You regularly suffer from digestion issues, including indigestion and stomach cramps.
  • You search symptoms on the internet and visit the doctor seeking reassurance.
  • You sometimes feel fearful for no reason, overwhelmed and unable to cope.
  • You suffer from sleep deprivation and struggle to fall asleep at night due to not being able to switch off the thoughts racing through your mind.
  • You have nightmares, and often wake up in the middle of the night (sometimes with chills).
  • You feel physically and emotionally drained.
  • You have a ‘safe place’ – typically your home – and have a radius within which you’re willing to travel, feeling uncomfortable when you’re too far away. Whenever you feel highly anxious, you seek relief by returning to your safe place.
  • You fear the outside world and prefer to stay at home. This might lead to becoming housebound (agoraphobic).
  • You are sometimes plagued by feelings of dread.
  • You feel on edge and uncomfortable in a social environment.
  • You turn down social opportunities and are absent at significant events (such as weddings), which affects your friendships and relationships.
  • You’re highly self-conscious and sometimes paranoid about what other people think of you.
  • You experience obsessive thoughts and have set routines. For example, you won’t leave your house or go on a trip without taking a certain drink or an object you depend on (such as a mobile phone), or you may have to check several times that your front door is locked when you leave your house.

SCALE 5: Above-normal anxiety

These symptoms are similar to those of high anxiety, but are less pervasive. You’re able to operate and cope in everyday life without anxiety dominating your decisions, but it still plays its part, manifesting itself through mild forms of anxiety-related disorders.

Examples of above-normal anxiety

  • You’re snappy, short-tempered and easily aggravated.
  • You sometimes vent your frustration and anger on the people closest to you, including your partner and children.
  • You take the stress of your job home with you.
  • Small things you never paid attention to previously and could dismiss now bother you. For example, if somebody is critical of you, it will affect your mood.
  • Thoughts play on your mind and you focus on problems, rather than good things in your life. You may worry a lot about the future and everything on your to-do list.
  • You’re indecisive, and don’t like to commit to something and risk that it might go wrong.
  • You drink a little more alcohol than usual, and use it to help you relax.
  • You find it difficult to concentrate and remember things.
  • You consciously make the decision to avoid crowded places, such as supermarkets and shopping centres, or visit them at their quietest periods.
  • You’re easily alarmed or frightened.
  • You find yourself turning down social opportunities more frequently, and view them as an inconvenience rather than a positive experience, preferring to stay at home.
  • Your sleep pattern is affected by worry, and you often find it hard to fall asleep.

SCALE 4: BALANCE

Sitting comfortably within normal levels of anxiety and energy, BALANCE is the optimal place to be. You’re living an active and healthy lifestyle without anxiety and depression dictating your decisions and actions. Anxiety isn’t present in your immediate thoughts, and it only presents itself when genuinely needed. Until then, it sits quietly as your life companion, keeping you away from danger and helping you make sensible decisions (doing its job properly). You don’t feel tired or drained, and have enough mental and physical energy to cope with life’s usual daily challenges.

It’s likely you’ll be able to recall a time you felt like this, but if it’s been a while, let me remind you what it feels like.

What BALANCE feels like

  • You look forward to going out with friends, rather than counting down the days in dread.
  • You can do the simple things in life (like going to the shop for some milk) without thinking about them.
  • Going out for a nice meal with your partner doesn’t create endless ‘what if…?’ thoughts that generate gut-wrenching apprehension and worry.
  • An ‘off day’ is exactly that, and whenever you experience one you accept that everybody has them and move on to the next day. It doesn’t mean your world is about to cave in: it was just a bad day, and tomorrow is another day.
  • You can go to a friend’s wedding without feeling ill or having to make excuses for being absent.
  • A family holiday means enjoyment, relaxation and a well-deserved break.
  • You’re confident and feel good about yourself.
  • Butterflies in your stomach mean happiness, surprise and excitement – not panic.
  • Obsessive and overwhelming thoughts are replaced by healthy focus and ambition.
  • Small things stay small, and don’t snowball into big unwieldy troubles. Problems can be broken down and dealt with.
  • Being stuck in traffic doesn’t create uncontrollable rage and panic.
  • Your outlook on life is objective and you’re open-minded. Your immediate view isn’t negative.
  • You feel content and grateful for everything you have.
  • You fall asleep easily when your head hits the pillow, and you wake up feeling energised and refreshed.
  • The future is bright, and there’s plenty to look forward to.

Most importantly, BALANCE means FREEDOM. No hang-ups, no emotional ties, no psychological baggage – just you, living how you want to live.

SCALE 3: Below-normal energy

Because anxiety goes hand in hand with depression, it’s present at both ends of the scale. It will zap your positivity and happiness, and work with depression to lower your energy. The lower your energy, the greater your depression. Scale 3 represents lower than normal energy, which could be the early signs of a deeper depression.

Examples of below-normal energy

  • You feel lethargic and more tired than usual.
  • You don’t feel as happy as the people around you.
  • You’re unmotivated, uninspired, and lack drive and passion.
  • You’re cynical, and when you talk about people you pick fault with them.
  • You don’t feel content, and think about how unsatisfied you are with your life.
  • You regularly think about how you’re feeling – in a negative way.
  • You don’t feel good about yourself, and have little interest in activities and socialising.
  • You often blame yourself for things out of your control, and feel guilty, even if things aren’t your fault.
  • You have less time for romance, and regularly have low libido/little interest in sex.
  • Happiness doesn’t come as easily to you as it did previously.
  • You prefer not to think about the future.

SCALE 2: Low energy

Scale 2 represents a deeper anxiety-induced depression and a lower level of unhappiness; you experience the same symptoms as with below-normal energy, but to a greater extent.

Examples of low energy

  • You struggle to get out of bed in the morning, and lack the motivation and energy to do even the most trivial daily task.
  • You don’t want to face the world, and feel detached from it.
  • You would rather stay at home with the curtains drawn than face the prospect of going out to meet people.
  • You feel restless, agitated and impatient.
  • You can’t be bothered to shower or wash, and your personal hygiene suffers.
  • You have a poor appetite, which means you regularly skip meals – or you may binge on unhealthy foods.
  • Life feels as though it’s slowing down.
  • You’re easily tearful and often cry.
  • You have low self-esteem and confidence, and when you look in the mirror you don’t feel good about yourself.
  • You find it hard to get rid of a feeling of despair.
  • You regularly ask yourself, ‘What’s the point?’
  • You spend long periods resting or sleeping.
  • You read SCALE 4 (BALANCE) and thought being happy and free was impossible and unachievable.

SCALE 1: Sleep

At the very bottom of the scale, sleep represents extreme depression, just as panic represents an extreme form of anxiety. I went through long periods of both. When I was deeply depressed, all I wanted to do was sleep all day. It felt as though my body was shutting down (like when you reboot your computer), and sleep was my only escape from the clutches of anxiety. On average, I would sleep sixteen hours a day – twice as long as the average adult needs. In the few hours I was awake, anxiety had a way of sucking any remaining bit of life out of me. My energy became non-existent, and I felt mentally and physically exhausted every waking second of every day. It made breaking the anxiety and depression cycle very difficult, because all I wanted to do was (you guessed it) sleep more.

At the other extreme, sleep deprivation (caused by high anxiety) was the worst symptom I experienced. I know exactly what it feels like to be a zombie on The Walking Dead. Three days of not sleeping properly, red-eyed with dribble running down my chin, unable to talk, was as bad as it got for me. This is a typical example of the continuous rigmarole I went through on a nightly basis:

As soon as my head hit the pillow I have racing thoughts about all the bills that need to be paid this month and the work I have left to do. I’m exhausted, but it doesn’t matter how tired I am, I just can’t fall asleep.

I lie there with my eyes wide open, just staring at the ceiling, until I’m so frustrated I decide to get up. I make myself a drink. I know going back to bed will be a waste of time so I lie down on the couch and put the television on. It keeps me company so I don’t feel so alone.

My eyes are heavy. I look at the clock. It’s the early hours of the morning and I start to panic – I’m desperate to sleep because I know I’m going to feel like a zombie at work the next day.

Eventually, panic subsides, and through pure exhaustion I fall asleep at around 4am. After a few hours I wake up on the couch, feeling like I haven’t slept at all. I immediately start to feel anxious, and I’m already worrying about how I’m going to get through the day.

I dread going to bed because I know it’s all going to happen again.

Eventually, with time and practice, I sorted my sleep out. If I hadn’t done this, I had no chance of overcoming anxiety and depression. That’s why I can’t stress enough how important it is to get it right. A strong pattern of sleep combined with the ability to relax is essential for achieving BALANCE.

This was an excerpt taken from the book, Anxiety Rebalance by Carl Vernon.

Anxiety Rebalance