If you’re struggling with anxiety after a long winter, you’re not alone. For many people, the slightly warmer weather and longer days can make us feel anxious for no reason. However, there are several potential causes for your unexplained anxiety symptoms. To learn more about the potential causes, and techniques you can use to ease them, read on!
Why Am I Feeling Anxious For No Reason?
It’s understandable to feel down or irritable during this time of the year. Unfortunately, colder months mean less exposure to sunlight, less fresh air and exercise, and fewer social events allowing for connection with people.
These reasons alone can make us feel lethargic, restless, exhausted, and disconnected from people who fill us with a sense of love and purpose in daily life. Some of these issues will remedy as spring progresses and the temperatures continue to rise. Being stuck inside can greatly affect how much anxiety, depression, and physical symptoms we experience.
Causes of Unknown Anxiety
Suffering from anxiety can be overwhelming. What can be even more frustrating is when you are unsure of its cause. Here are some potential causes of general anxiety not in reference to an anxiety disorder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):
SAD is thought to result from a biochemical imbalance due to shorter days and less sunlight in our local environment.
Some symptoms of SAD are:
Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
For more information about SAD, visit the Mayo Clinic’s website which goes into more detail about this disorder.
When anxiety is activated, there is a response that releases stress hormones and other chemicals, including histamine. Histamine is the chemical released during allergy symptoms and allergic reactions. Because this same chemical is released during stress and allergy reactions, experiencing general or seasonal allergies can mimic the feelings of anxiety.
Some physical and mental reactions to allergies include:
All of these symptoms can make the anxiety you’re experiencing feel worse, so make sure to ease the effects of these symptoms as best as you can. For example, using ice packs or NSAIDs for headaches, or resting if you feel exhaustion.
We all know exercise is great to keep our mood up and increase feel-good hormones, but too much exercise causes an overload of stress on our bodies that can seem like anxiety.
Long, strenuous workouts raise levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and also can cause sleep disturbances, which worsens anxiety levels. Find balance with physical activity, and build in rest days into your routine to allow your body to recover from intense exercise.
Cold and Flu Season:
Being sick increases the stress load on your body, which can increase feelings that mimic anxiety disorders. After an illness like a cold or flu bug, you body needs to recover from the immune reaction that took place to fight the infection. For example, you often lose your appetite when you are sick because you body wants to focus on fighting the infection instead of digesting food. This can lead to fatigue and lessened stress tolerance.
When you start to feel a bit better, your body is just starting to reduce the stress load of fighting the infection. You need proper rest, hydration, and food as soon as your appetite comes back. The fatigue may still linger even after symptoms of the illness are gone, which can result in some anxiety. This should fade once your body has time to recover.
These examples are just a few of possible explanations for feelings of unknown anxiety. There are many more reasons why you could be experiencing these symptoms. Remember that anything that stresses the body can potentially cause these feelings, but most are temporary.
Remember, if you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety for longer than a week or two, they can indicate a more serious, deeper issue or cause. Also, note other symptoms you are experiencing, like panic attacks or extreme physical symptoms. If this is the case, speaking to your therapist or doctor can help you figure out if you have anxiety because of the above reasons, which may pass over a short period of time, or if it’s due to an anxiety disorder like generalized anxiety disorder, which requires different kinds of treatment.
Ways to Ease Your Symptoms Now
It is essential to have a handful of activities or techniques to use to ease anxiety symptoms and get you through this temporary rough patch. Here are some ways to reduce anxiety and increase your feel-good hormones and happiness:
Bundle up and soak up the sun:
I know it’s cold! But even 5-10 minutes of sun exposure can help boost your mood and well-being. So put on your warm coat and walk around the block when the sun is out to improve your day.
Laughing boosts mood and a sense of hope, even during difficult times. So put on your favorite movie or show, play your favorite song and dance, or look at something that makes you smile — like family photos or funny dog videos!
Create indoor events with friends and family:
Whether it’s a theme dinner night, game night, movie night, or playdates for the kids, there are ways to create social events even during these cold months.
Put a message in your group chats, or check with your family about starting a weekly or monthly get-together. Setting up rhythms is a way to give us something to look forward to while ensuring social interaction.
Even if you are an introvert, social connection is integral to the human experience and mental well-being. For example, if your social meter runs out quickly, put a time limit on the interaction. Ask a friend for coffee, but only for an hour. Predetermining the event time can uphold your boundaries while still feeling connected.
Move your body:
When it’s too cold to spend time outside, prioritizing exercise is hard, despite knowing how important it is to our positive mental health. One trick to getting more activity while staying inside is putting on a show and walking or jogging in place while you watch it. You can also stretch or massage your legs to get the blood flowing.
Declutter your space:
Over the holidays, we can accumulate a lot of stuff! It’s easy for once-organized spaces to feel crowded and overwhelming. Taking time to organize, clean, and declutter your home can lead to a sense of calm, peace, and control over your environment.
Sometimes our anxiety can be caused by an inner dissonance between what we want to be doing and what actions we are or aren’t doing. New years resolutions tend to die off around February and March, but the goals we set for ourselves still live inside us.
Create a new routine or habit:
Creating systems and routines based on our goals can create results without overthinking what it takes to achieve what we want. Revisit your goals for the year, and define what habits or routines you can set that will naturally lead to progress in those areas. This action step can lessen the feeling of anxiety.
It’s clear that feeling anxious for no reason may actually have one or multiple causes. Remember, there is no need to suffer alone. Whether symptoms occur due to allergies, seasonal affective disorder, anxiety disorders or just tired of being at home, we can learn to cope with these feelings healthily by shifting our perspective through action steps.
If you’ve been feeling anxious for no reason and you’re unsure how to resolve your symptoms, professional help can help identify the cause and create a plan for relief. A licensed therapist can provide a tailored plan, like specific relaxation techniques, new lifestyle recommendations, and ultimately guide you toward long-term solutions to treat anxiety effectively.
If you need more help or your anxiety is becoming too much to bear on your own, help is a phone call away. Get started here or contact us to schedule an appointment to begin your healing journey today.