Anxiety Aches

Posted by Stephanie Lawless on 9/18/2020 7:00:00 AM

Over the last several months we have spent a lot of time thinking about the symptoms associated with COVID.  Every cough we hear in the store, sniffle in the classroom and headache we worry about COVID. All this concern could be causing high levels of anxiety which can cause physical symptoms that make you feel physically sick! It is a vicious cycle but one I believe we can break.  According to,  Physical Symptoms of Anxiety: How Does It Feel? ( anxiety can cause immediate and long term affects on your body, including “stomach pain, nausea, or digestive trouble, headaches, sleep issues, weakness or fatigue, rapid breathing or shortness of breath, pounding heart or increased heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking and muscle tension or pain.”  I don’t know how familiar you are with our COVID symptoms, but there are more than a few overlaps there.  All of this makes me want to tear out my hair, which ironically, is not a symptom.  The article continued with,

“Anxiety, the body’s response to stress, is how your body alerts you to threats and helps you get ready to deal with them. This is called the fight-or-flight response. When your body responds to danger, you breathe rapidly because your lungs are trying to move more oxygen through your body in case you need to escape. This can make you feel as if you’re not getting enough air, which could trigger further anxiety or panic. Your body isn’t meant to always be on alert. Being in constant fight-or-flight mode, which can happen with chronic anxiety, can have negative and serious effects on your body. Tensed muscles may prepare you to get away from danger quickly, but muscles that are constantly tense can result in pain, tension headaches, and migraines. The hormones adrenalin and cortisol are responsible for increased heartbeat and breathing, which can help when facing a threat. But these hormones also affect digestion and blood sugar. If you’re often stressed or anxious, frequently releasing these hormones can have long-term health effects. Your digestion may also change in response.” 

Some of the long term effects could be ulcers, asthma, heart problems, migraines, vision problems, and back problems.  (Physical Symptoms of Anxiety: How Does It Feel? For more specific information on how anxiety impacts your body check out: 

Like any good article, Healthline lets you know how bad it is, then tells you what you can do about it. They share that there are some simple steps we can take to help decrease our anxiety:

  • “Be physically active, if you’re able. Exercise can help reduce stress and improve physical health. If you can’t be active, try sitting outside every day. Research increasingly shows that nature can benefit mental health.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. Any of these can make anxiety worse.
  • Try relaxation techniques. Guided imagery and deep breathing are two practices that can help your body relax. Meditation and yoga can also benefit you. These techniques are considered safe, but it is possible to experience increased anxiety as a result.
  • Prioritize sleep. Sleep issues often accompany anxiety. Try to get as much sleep as you can. Feeling rested can help you cope with anxiety symptoms. Getting more sleep could also reduce symptoms.”

 I agree with all of these steps (except avoiding coffee, seriously? The idea INCREASES my anxiety!).  If you have found that your feelings of anxiety are getting too difficult to manage, know that you are not in this alone. Everyone experiences anxiety and there are many ways to get help.  SAMHSA, Substance Abuse and  Mental Health Service Administration,  has a site dedicated to helping people connect with treatment options, ADAA, Anxiety and Depression Association of America,, has resources and support groups to help. Or, you can go old fashion, and just reach out to the people around you and talk about how you are feeling, physically and emotionally.  You are not alone,  #InThisTogether


Stephanie Lawless, Assistant Director