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What Does Anxiety Feel Like?

Anxiety presents itself differently in each of us, but there are some common symptoms of anxiety.

1) Increase in Heart Rate

You may feel like your heart is "racing," as if working out, even if you are hardly moving. We find this is the most commonly reported symptom of anxiety with our clients.

2) Change in Breathing

It may feel more difficult to breathe, you may notice that you're taking fast, shallow breaths, or it may feel like there's a weight on top of your chest. You may also feel lightheaded/dizzy.

3) Headaches, Muscle Tension & Pain

As your body senses danger, it wants to be ready to fight or flight, tensing up your muscles and getting them ready for action. As your body remains in this alert state overtime, you may experience headaches or tension/pain in different parts of your body.

4) Tummy Trouble

Part of the sympathetic nervous system's job is to shut down your digestive system so that energy can go toward keeping you safe. This means you may end up with a stomach, nausea, or other digestive system changes.

5) Sweaty Palms

You may notice you are sweating more, or a cold and clammy feeling.

6) Restlessness at Night

If you're experiencing anxiety, you may have difficulty falling or staying asleep. You may also experience fatigue.

7) Trouble Focusing

When your mind is really concerned about something, it's difficult to get through sometimes even the most basic of tasks.

8) Easily Upset

Small events can trigger big responses in us when we're experiencing anxiety. You may become irritated, emotional, or upset easily.

9) Urge to Control Things

You may feel the need to control things around you, such as a loved one's behavior, or maybe cleaning and organizing the entire kitchen. This is your brain creating some semblance of order to help cope with the perceived chaos.

10) Extreme Fear

Especially during a panic attack, you may feel overwhelmed by extreme fear. You may also feel irrational fear that is specific, such fear of needles, a certain animal, or being in an elevator.

Experiencing one or more of the above? Anxiety is one of your body's way of protecting itself, but it can be debilitating if unchecked. To speak with a professional, schedule an appointment with a music therapist, or to receive a referral to seek services with a licensed professional counselor, email us at, or schedule a free consultation call by clicking here.


Esther Craven, MT-BC is a board certified music therapist, and the founder and CEO of North Star Therapy. She is passionate about using music to help young adults who are struggling with their mental health so that they can level up in life, be their best selves, and live well. Esther loves to solve problems and is available to hear about your challenges if you schedule a call with her by emailing or by clicking here to schedule a call online.


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