5 mins

Uneasy feeling in body – recognising and overcoming the physical symptoms of anxiety

Experiencing an uneasy feeling in your body can be unsettling, especially when it seems there’s no apparent reason for it. It’s like a whisper from your body that something isn’t right. Anxiety manifests in myriad ways, not just through our thoughts but also physically. Let’s explore what’s happening and how you can take control.

Why am I feeling uneasy for no reason? 

Firstly, it’s important to recognise that feeling uneasy without a clear cause is a common experience among those who suffer from anxiety. This does not mean that the feelings are imagined or insignificant. Anxiety can activate a part of your brain called the amygdala, which is involved in processing emotions. It can trigger an alarm response in your body, even in the absence of real danger.

The role of the nervous system

Our nervous system is designed to respond to threats using a “fight or flight” response. When your brain perceives a threat, even if it’s not a physical one, it can cause your body to react as though you are in danger. This might include an increase in heart rate, rapid breathing, or muscle tension. These responses are intended to prepare your body to either face the threat or run to safety. However, when the threat is psychological (like worrying about future events), these physical responses happen needlessly, often exacerbating anxiety.

How to manage unexplained uneasiness

To manage this type of anxiety, mindfulness practices can help. Mindfulness involves paying full attention to the present moment without judgement. Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or gentle yoga can help calm your nervous system and bring your body back to a state of equilibrium.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is another effective approach. This type of therapy helps you identify and challenge the thought patterns that trigger your anxiety, replacing them with more realistic and less frightening thoughts. By addressing how your thoughts affect your physical feelings, CBT can help reduce the intensity of your anxiety symptoms.

Weird physical symptoms of anxiety and why they happen

Anxiety can produce a range of physical symptoms that might seem bizarre or disconnected from any emotional trigger. Understanding these symptoms can help you recognise anxiety and address it effectively.

Common but odd symptoms

Among other symptoms, you might experience gastrointestinal issues like nausea or diarrhoea, or less commonly, feelings of derealisation (feeling detached from your surroundings) or depersonalisation (feeling detached from oneself). These symptoms occur because anxiety can disrupt the normal functioning of the digestive system and alter your perception.

The science behind the symptoms

When anxious, your body is flooded with stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones can affect various parts of your body in unexpected ways. For example, cortisol can interfere with digestion, while adrenaline might cause your hands to shake or your heart to race.

Techniques to alleviate these symptoms

Grounding techniques can be particularly effective in managing these physical symptoms. These techniques involve exercises that help you stay present and connected to your physical environment, such as focusing on your breathing, touching objects around you, or naming things you can see, hear, or smell.

Additionally, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) can help you control muscle tension. PMR involves tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups in your body, which can counteract the muscle stiffness and discomfort that anxiety often causes.

Feeling nervous for no reason in chest and what it means

Feeling nervousness in your chest is a classic sign of anxiety. It’s not uncommon to feel chest tightness or heart palpitations, which can be alarming but are generally harmless.

Understanding chest symptoms

The sensation in your chest during an anxiety attack is typically due to hyperventilation and an increased heart rate. Hyperventilation can lead to a decrease in carbon dioxide in your blood, which can cause tingling in your hands and feet and a tight sensation in your chest.

Managing chest anxiety

Breathing exercises are the first line of defence against chest-related anxiety symptoms. Practising slow, controlled breathing can help regulate your heart rate and stabilise your carbon dioxide levels, reducing the physical symptoms of anxiety. A particularly effective technique is to extend your exhale; try to make it twice as long as your inhale. This method encourages relaxation and helps calm the nervous system, easing the tightness in your chest.

While an uneasy feeling in your body can be a complex symptom of anxiety, understanding and addressing it with appropriate techniques can empower you to regain control. Remember, anxiety is not just ‘in your head’ – it manifests physically and can be managed through both psychological and physical approaches.

While the physical symptoms of anxiety can often feel overwhelming, understanding their origins and learning how to manage them empowers you to regain control over your life.

If you find that anxiety is significantly impacting your enjoyment of everyday activities, it might be time to seek professional help. A psychologist can help you unravel the underlying causes of an uneasy feeling in your body and develop a personalised strategy to overcome these symptoms. You don’t have to navigate this path alone. With the support of your therapist, you can explore therapies like CBT, ACT, Schema Therapy, and MBCT to find a science-backed approach that works best for you. Remember, taking the first step towards understanding and managing your anxiety is a move towards a more fulfilling life. Reach out to one of our team to start your therapy journey today.

Dr Elena Touroni

Dr Elena Touroni

29 April 2024

"Dr. Elena Touroni is a skilled and experienced Consultant Psychologist with a track record of delivering high-quality services for individuals with all common emotional difficulties and those with a diagnosis of personality disorder. She is experienced in service design and delivery, the management of multi-disciplinary teams, organisational consultancy, and development and delivery of both national and bespoke training to providers in the statutory and non-statutory sector."

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Athena Lazaridou

Athena is a Pilates instructor with 8 years’ experience in the field. After completing a Power Pilates Mat Certification in Athens, she went on to complete the Full Comprehensive Classical Pilates Certification with Equinox in Kensington.  She has been teaching Pilates at Equinox for the past 6 years in addition to her own private clients who she trains both face to face and virtually.

Athena has a passion for helping people get stronger and fitter as well as helping those recovering from injury regain their strength and mobility.  Over the years, she has worked with athletes to incorporate Pilates into their training and improve performance. Athena has also worked with prenatal and postnatal women who may be experiencing depression or other mental health difficulties and used Pilates to facilitate a positive impact on their mental health.

Athena is very passionate about improving physical and mental well-being and has recently incorporated Sound Healing into her work, as she believes it to be one of the best ways of ‘letting go’ and releasing stale energy whilst increasing greater self-awareness.