Is it just me or is life post-lockdown significantly more challenging than life pre-lockdown? Despite our daily activities being exactly the same? Simple tasks are activating our anxiety much easier than normal. This article is all about how to identify those anxiety behaviors.
Between virtual classes, work, and exercising, the past few weeks have been overwhelming. Juggling these tasks isn’t new to me, but it has most definitely been a while. As familiar as I am with my own anxiety behaviors, it wasn’t until I screamed at my sister because she used my chapstick that I realized what something was off.
Anxiety can creep up when we least expect it to, and while some signs are familiar and visible, others are not. Learning to identify even the unfamiliar behaviors associated with anxiety allows us to treat it before we meltdown.
Because anxiety behaviors vary so greatly amongst different people and even throughout different seasons, I highly encourage all of you to find some time during the day to discover how you are feeling.
You could scribble some thoughts out or ponder quietly for a couple minutes, but this time for recognition will allow for any “red flag” behaviors to stick out to you, no matter how unfamiliar to you they may be.
Although many suffer from insomnia episodes where falling asleep seems impossible, that is not always the case. Some people have no issue falling asleep at all, however, they wake up feeling unrested after a night of extremely light sleep due to anxiety.
Poor sleep may be an anxiety indicator.
A couple years ago, when displaying anxiety, I used to spend hours tossing and turning, attempting to fall asleep. I’m embarrassed to admit that these attempts were always failed attempts, as I would toss and turn for hours (and even counted sheep on a few occasions), until I would finally give in and spring out of bed to work on whatever had me feeling anxious.
My own anxiety behaviors have changed over time.
It was only recently that I was thinking about how I was feeling that I realized I was extremely tired. I thought back to the night before trying to remember if I had struggled falling asleep, only to discover that I didn’t remember much from night-time at all.
I quickly realized that I have been knocking out almost as soon as my head hits the pillow, however, I have multiple instances during the night where I am awake and even hold small conversations with my sister.
This small conversation with myself helped me recognize that difficulty sleeping looks different on everyone. Although falling asleep is no longer an issue for my tired body these days, remaining asleep is one behavior my body has been using to signal anxiety.
Feeling Easily Irritated
I know what you’re thinking.
Easily irritated? In a list of unfamiliar behaviors? Aren’t we all familiar with irritation and anger when anxious?
Here’s the thing – When irritated, it becomes extremely hard to recognize the cause. It’s hard to see the way we are feeling is rather a reflection of something else that is making us anxious and not about the person or thing we are “irritated” at.
This behavior isn’t unfamiliar; it is simply unfamiliar to us at the time.
When feeling anxious, our brain lies to us and tricks us into believing we are unable to handle a situation. This leads us to feel frustrated and helpless. We accept this lie as a truth. This produces a fight or flight response in our body, which often leads to anger and annoyance.
If you catch yourself snapping into an irritated mood or throwing tantrums without reason, it might be time to meditate and dig a little deeper to identify which lies you might unconsciously be accepting to be true.
Avoidance and Indecision
Let’s be honest, avoiding situations that makes us uncomfortable would be ideal.
My mother signed a contract as a 7th grade teacher beginning in the fall. This was back in January, before we could have ever imagined school being online.
After teaching kindergarten for 26 years, the shift from kids to middle-schoolers has been a challenging journey for her. Add the abrupt need to dominate technology to the mix and an extremely stressed teacher is exactly what you get.
I would hear her complain on and on about how she didn’t have enough hours in the day to grade all the assignments and read all the material, yet she would spend hours vacuuming the same spot or ironing the same pajamas and undergarments we asked her not to iron.
Funny thing is, this is exactly when she would complain about how much she had to do.
My mother was avoiding. Her new job feels new and unfamiliar and brings in unnecessary stress, and her body’s way of handling the situation is by trying not to handle it.
Avoiding can either mean not doing something altogether, or procrastinating on even the smallest of decisions.
Going out of our way to avoid certain situations, however, can build on our anxiety and make matters even worse. Taking the extra measures to avoid the situation often requires more effort. Along with the effort spent on anxious avoiding the original scenario, this behavior may actually cause more harm than good.
Over Planning and Controlling
I simply cannot imagine ironing pajamas and undergarments while well aware of the piles of assignments that must be graded and chapters that must be read.
While some people avoid uncomfortable situations all together, others over plan for these situations. This stems from hopes of preparing and controlling every possible scenario.
I am others. Others is me.
There’s a small pink agenda I carry around with me that hopefully tricks people into believing I am organized.
Alas, I am not.
Feeling worried of anxious will usually cause me to open up my agenda. In which case I sit down and write down my tasks and schedule. If an assignment has me concerned, I must write down exactly how I will be completing it, step by step, regardless of how evident some of the steps are.
While this might seem like a practical time management practice to you, I should mention, it’s not. And I say that knowing that I am usually only a shy step away from scheduling time to use the restroom. Said schedule must be color-coded, prioritized, and often times, copied to the next page to get rid of the errors I made on my “first draft”.
I spend way more time planning how to use my time wisely and controlling my agenda (some might say procrastinating) than the time I actually have to spare.
Opening up the ironing board might be my mother’s “red flag”, but opening up my pink agenda is definitely mine.
One thing I often must remind myself is that feeling in control regarding the situation can easily be confused with feeling in control of my anxiety, despite being two different behaviors.
Pressure Caused by Anxiety
As mentioned above, we sometimes suffer through anxiety when we are feeling helpless.
You think you need to be working harder to meet the impossible standards. You believe you aren’t worth it.
It is not uncommon to see people put extra and unnecessary pressure on themselves to achieve more. They may temporarily satisfied with themselves in order to feel less helpless, often leading to burnout.
Do you find yourself constantly feeling like you are not doing enough? Do you think this pressure might be rooting from some undealt with anxiety?
As we all return to our regular routines and our lives slowly pick back up, keep in mind these behaviors that may require your attention. Remember to keep an eye out for more. Making it a habit to know yourself and discover in which ways your behaviors are speaking to you is a great way to identify any flags in time. And good news is, the conversation doesn’t have to stop there.
Your anxiety is stemming from subconscious lies.
If you are ready to make progress, change the lies you are believing to be true and manage your anxiety, I have the tool for you. Grab your spot in my Stress & Anxiety Toolkit to get all my tools, including yoga, breath work, and meditations.
And remember, don’t let anyone tell you the transition back to our regular routines after Covid-19 is easy. It’s not.
Be gentle and kind, especially with yourself.
Guest Blogger and Intern: Camila Messmer
Camila Messmer is a student at university and our intern at The Remote Yogi. She is passionate about transforming her life through her thoughts, beliefs and visions, and is forever discovering her own anxiety in efforts to manage it.