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What does anxiety feel like?

This is a question I get asked a lot by people who are trying to work out if what they are feeling is anxiety or is normal for a person with anxiety.

If you haven’t read it already then I would recommend you listen to my podcast episode on the role of adrenaline on the body as this also covers many of the symptoms that people with anxiety often struggle with, you can find it here.

This list of symptoms has been taken from the NHS website[1] and covers all of the symptoms that I usually see in clinic.

  • feel tired, on edge, restless or irritable
  • feel a sense of dread
  • be unable to concentrate or make decisions
  • have trouble sleeping
  • feel sick, dizzy, sweaty or short of breath
  • be shaky or trembly
  • get headaches or tummy aches
  • avoid situations or put off doing things you are worried about
  • have difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • experience a noticeably strong, fast or irregular heartbeat
  • have pins and needles
  • have a dry mouth
  • sweat excessively
  • repeatedly check things or seek assurance from others

What causes anxiety?

Anxiety is caused by a fear of something. This could be anything from a fear of public speaking to a more generalised fear of everyday things that happen in life.

When we are looking at anxiety from a cognitive behavioural point of view, it’s your thoughts about the situation that causes you fear that kickstarts the natural fight or flight response in your body. It’s the fight or fight response that causes the symptoms and feelings that are listed above.

As an example, if you wake up in the middle of the night because of a presentation you have to give in the morning there are a few different things you might be thinking:

  1. Oh no, I have that tomorrow. I need to get back to sleep or it will be even more of a disaster that it was going to be already. What if I forget what I need to say? What if I make a mistake? What if I look stupid in front of everyone?

Do you think this person will be getting back to sleep soon?

Probably not and they will start to notice that they start getting the symptoms above.

  1. Oh, I have woken up! Oh good there are a couple of hours before I need to get up for my presentation. I’m just going to get cosy as I can until I drop off again and my alarm goes off. I really enjoyed watching that film earlier the story was interesting, and I loved…. Zzzzzz

This person is much more likely to head back to sleep because they aren’t thinking about the situation in a way that causes them fear.  They may well be nervous about the presentation, but they are able to control their thoughts and not stress themselves out.

What can we do about anxiety?

The types of therapy that I use are hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy. These two therapies work really well together.

The cognitive behavioural therapy teaches you how you can change those fear inducing thoughts to more helpful ones and the hypnotherapy teaches your mind how to calm itself and focus on what you want to focus on

What can you do about anxiety?

The first thing to be aware of is how your thoughts are contributing towards your anxiety. Luckily for you, I have a free worksheet that you can use to find out what types of negative thoughts are causing your anxiety, just click here and enter your details for your worksheet. You will also be sent a video from one of my workshops explaining more about negative thoughts and what you need to do.



Resources and references



Discover which common negative thinking patterns you have.

The way we think has a huge impact on our mental health. If you are looking to overcome your anxiety or just improve your mental health then first you need to know what thoughts are making things worse.

This download gives you a list of the most common ways we think negatively. All you need to do is see which ones you do most.

Also, keep an eye on your emails! I will be sending you a really useful video that goes with this exercise.