Your body is equipped with a lot of tools to keep you safe and alive. One such tool is the fight or flight system. It's a system designed to make it easier for you to fight or flee at any sign of danger. For example, if you encountered a predator in the wild, your fight or flight system would help make it possible for you to run away without a second thought, and run further and better than you would without it.
Unfortunately, we don't live in as dangerous a world, and that means that our fight or flight system often misfires. That's what causes anxiety, and that's what causes a constant restlessness.
Is Anxiety Making You Restless?
How often do you feel as though you can't sit still or be calm? Anxiety is frequently the cause of feelings of restlessness - both physical and emotional. If you'd like to learn how severe your anxiety is and compare your restlessness and anxiety to others, take our free 7 minute anxiety test.
How Anxiety Causes Constant Restlessness
Restlessness is one of the most common symptoms of anxiety. It's the feeling of being unable to sit still, or feeling as though you're on edge and something is about to or needs to happen. My free 7 minute anxiety test will help you learn more about restlessness and other symptoms.
There are a lot of symptoms of anxiety that are complex, caused by issues that are difficult to explain. Restlessness is not one of those symptoms. The cause of restlessness is very clear: a constant surge of adrenaline as a response to the fight or flight system.
Adrenaline is nature's energy. If you were in the wild and running away from a predator, it doesn't matter how tired you are - you need to have as much energy as possible to make sure you get out of there safely. Adrenaline provides that energy.
A Faulty System
The problem is that when you have anxiety, your fight or flight system is activated and nothing is happening. You're not running away. You're not fighting. So all of that adrenaline is flooding into your system and your body doesn't do anything to use it up.
That's what causes the feeling of restlessness that affects so many people with anxiety. Your body is getting all of this adrenaline plugged into it and then it sits there, causing your mind and body to experience the surge of energy without any of the reactions. Hormones like adrenaline have a powerful effect not only one your body, but also on the way you think.
Other Causes of Restlessness
Adrenaline isn't necessarily the only cause of restlessness. Restlessness may also be caused by a feeling that something is wrong in general. You may feel like you need to make changes to your life or that someone may be in danger, and this can cause a type of mental restlessness that keeps you wondering if you need to move.
But even in the cases of these other anxiety symptoms, it's still usually adrenaline that causes the feeling of restlessness. Adrenaline is the natural reaction to anything that causes fear or discomfort.
How to Treat Constant Restlessness
You'll never run out of adrenaline, and if you still have anxiety you're always going to have that feeling of restlessness that you cannot seem to shake.
But in the short term when you feel anxious there are strategies you can use to cut down on the amount of restlessness that you feel, and the solution is fairly easy - move.
The quickest way to relieve some of that adrenaline is to get moving and burn it away. Go for a run. Do some jumping jacks. You shouldn't "flee" from your anxiety (it's a bad habit to feel like you're running away from your problems), but it will burn up the excess adrenaline.
Other than that, the key is simply to learn how to control your anxiety better and calm down faster. Deep breathing exercises can be useful, as can relaxation strategies like:
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Yet in general, the goal is going to be to learn how to fully prevent your anxiety from coming back. Only then can you ensure that your anxiety will stay away forever.
I've helped thousands of people suffering from constant restlessness with my free 7 minute anxiety test. It'll teach you more about your own anxiety and what it takes to treat it.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.