Perhaps your life is pretty calm at the moment. You have a support network of family and friends, a good relationship, and financially stable, but you still have an obvious feeling of panic. You may even feel guilty or worried about something you cannot pinpoint and find yourself waiting for the disaster to tear through your life. While most anxiety has a clear cause, it can also sneak in without an obvious source. We cannot always shake this feeling off, but also cannot identify the true point of origin.
There are times when anxiety does hit us out of nowhere and it can become overwhelming quickly. At least if we know the cause of the anxiety, we can work toward getting past it or offering a remedy to the situation. Straight forward anxiety is not great, but at least it can be clarified. The good news is that when we feel anxiety, there is always at least one cause, often more. Knowing this means we can combat the anxiety appropriately.
When we are feeling anxious for seemingly no reason, it is likely because we have let these feelings build over time and they are coming to a head. To find the source, we need to dig deep and search for a way to change. There are signs of anxiety that seemingly comes from nowhere. There include:
- Mind racing – constant worry, often from morning until night
- Physical issues – anxiety can cause physical symptoms like nausea and other stomach issues, a racing heart, and even tight or sore muscles.
- Paranoia – being paranoid or trying to stay ‘busy’ or double checking everything you do can point to something going on deep within.
What Causes Anxiety
We can feel anxiety as a form of protection. This is a level of the fight or flight adaptations that has evolved over time. while it can be helpful if we fear missing the bus or revising emergency plans, if we get stuck in this anxiety ridden pattern then things can go totally haywire. Basically, our bodies and minds are in protection mode with no real reason to be. Those who develop lasting anxiety may do so for a number of reasons. Some are genetic in nature, but actual experiences in childhood can also change how you handle stress. This may be related to things such as:
- Emotionally absent parent(s)
- Being punished or reprimanded for showing emotion
- Latchkey child
- Stressful parental divorce
- Unsupportive family life
- Parents who did not handle stress well
It is important to look into the past because newer studies show that anxiety can be passed down through generation through learned behavior.
Anxiety without Reason
Our behaviors, including thought patterns are learned over time and based on what is reinforced in our lives. Coping mechanisms can start in childhood and as they are reinforced, grow stronger through adulthood. We can get trapped in a negative loop of sorts and accidently reinforce them without realizing it. Then we are seemingly stuck. This means when we get rapped in this anxious feeling that seems to have no source, there is one, we just have to dig for it. It may be something we have buried deep, but we must uncover and deal with it.
Consider the following when you are overcome with anxiety, but do not know the direct source.
- Do I have goals that are well defined in my life? – We need purpose and focus toward something we enjoy and love
- Do I have a support system? – Everyone needs someone else that is supportive when things are tough in life.
- Are there childhood issues I need to resolve? – Maybe all issues cannot be resolved, but they do need to be faced and then put aside.
- Am I getting that ‘trapped’ feeling? – Sometimes we need a change in life, whether a job, our look, or our general approach.
When we have narrowed down or are trying to pinpoint the issue that has caused the anxious feeling, there are a few things we can do to keep it more at bay. Try the following:
- Sleep – Making sleep a priority can be highly supportive to our mental wellbeing. A lack of sleep can increase anxiety, so practice good sleep hygiene.
- Journal – Writing out your thoughts, even if they are jumbled or weird can help alleviate the extra in our minds.
- Self Check-in – Check in to make sure you are not being overly self-critical and if you are, reel it in for your mental health. Self-affirmations can be helpful.
- Mindful Meditation – This helps you learn to listen to your inner thoughts so you can become aware of your thought patterns.
- Mood Tracking – When we really track our moods throughout the day, we may be able to identify triggers that enhance anxiety.
- Watch for Mind Tricks – Anxiety causes our minds to play tricks on us which we must watch out for and instead look for the reality.
When you do find yourself stuck in a worry loop, try the ABCDE technique.
A- Attention – Pay attention and stop worry when it starts
B -Believe – Believe what is real, not what the mind is saying
C- Challenge – Challenge what you are thinking with what is tangible
D – Discount – Discount opinions and come up with other views that are possible
E – Energizing – Calling out negative thoughts can be energizing
There will always be things we cannot control in life and this will cause anxiety. Accepting that everything is not controllable is weirdly liberating. However, if you tried these things and anxiety still seems to come from nowhere, there may be a deeper problem. You may have an anxiety disorder that needs treatment at a bigger level. The three main ones are panic disorder, social anxiety, and generalized anxiety disorder, also called GAD.
GAD is more about generalized anxiety with no cause and people are often labeled “worriers”. It can run in families, but is more learned than genetic. Common symptoms can include:
- Constant worry cycles
- Intrusive thoughts or thinking
- Sense of doom
- Anxiety without cause
- Stomach issues
- Concentration difficulties
- Sleep interruption
- Self-doubt that remains persistent
GAD can be treated by a therapist who can help you find new ways of approaching issues and anxiety. Anxiety is going to occur and be a struggle in many lives, but knowing or finding the cause can be helpful. A therapist can help you learn to do this. The power is inside each of us.