Clients on my table table often say, “I didn’t realize that my shoulder (or other trouble spot) even hurt. Now that you’re working on it, I can feel how tense the rest of my body is, too. I should have come to see you sooner!”
Here is a short checklist that will help you recognize if you’re experiencing anxiety and could benefit from bodywork:
Headaches – Whether it’s a dull ache at the base of your skull, a sharp and piercing pain near your eyes and frontal sinuses, or a pain right at the crown of your head, nothing can ruin your day like headache. Headaches are often a good indicator of your stress level. Frequent and/or long-lasting headaches may indicate a high level of anxiety in your everyday life.
Muscle tension – When you’re stressed out and anxious, your body goes into fight or flight mode. What does that mean for your muscles? They become engorged with blood to help you outrun bears or tigers, and to make you look bigger and more intimidating. When you’re on edge, your muscles are constantly tensed. Eventually, you stop noticing the tension or may only feel it in localized areas, such as old injuries.
Insomnia and disrupted sleep – Often when you’re anxious it’s hard to settle down and fall asleep. You may find yourself awake for extended periods in the night or you may wake before your alarm, wishing you could go back to sleep. In some cases, anxiety manifests as dream-disturbed sleep that leaves you feeling exhausted instead of rested.
Uneven energy levels throughout the day – Anxiety can make you feel tired all day and then give you an in appropriate burst of energy in the evening that keeps you up at night. Or, you may find yourself surging with energy while you’re “on,” and exhausted when you get home to your loved ones. Another side of anxiety has you reluctant to face the world in the morning, so you elect to hit the snooze button and sleep until the last possible moment.
Poor appetite and diet – When you’re anxious, you may experience a nervous stomach and loss of appetite. This can lead you to make poor dietary choices, filling up on sugar and caffeine to keep you going instead of eating healthy meals. You may also binge on whatever is convenient (often junk food), once your body’s hunger mechanism does kick in. Filling up after not eating for long periods can leave you feeling nauseous and without an appetite again.
Inability to concentrate – If you’re anxious, accomplishing anything can be a challenge. Your mind jumps from task to task and you find yourself wandering around your house instead of sitting and focusing. You may also find that your mind hyper-focuses, worrying about things that are outside your control or don’t require your attention at that moment.
You can feel your heart beating in your chest – When you’re healthy, your heart beats in the background. But being aware of your heart beating in your chest can signal high levels of stress and anxiety, and is often associated with anxiety attacks. If you think you are having a heart attack or physical issues with your heart, see your doctor immediately. If you know that it’s sign of anxiety for you, come get a session and relax.
You notice your breathing – Your body naturally regulates breathing to meet its needs. If you notice your breathing outside of yoga class, meditation or a breath workshop, your body is indicating that it’s in distress. Other signs of anxiety include unconsciously holding your breath, breathing shallowly and clenching your muscles, or breathing rapidly and gulping air (as in an anxiety attack). Getting a massage session will help you let go, and allow you to breath more naturally. If you’re experiencing asthma or heart attack symptoms, such as a tightening in your chest, see your doctor for medical attention.
Working with people who suffer from anxiety is one of my specialties. Find out more about how acupuncture can help your anxiety on my website or call me at 415-994-0252. To schedule an anti-anxiety acupuncture session today you can call, or schedule online.