Anxiety Symptom #2: Trembling, Shaking, Body Tremors And Jumpiness
A very common but often overlooked symptom of anxiety is trembling or shaking.
These two anxiety symptoms can occur seemingly out of the blue for no apparent reason. But if you start examining it, you’ll find that it happens whenever you’re experiencing intense stress and nervousness.
For the most part having body tremors means that you get some kind of involuntary movement in your muscles that you can’t consciously control. You can sometimes stop it by massaging the area or stretching your muscles but usually you can’t “will it to stop.”
In addition, body tremors can also cause muscle twitching, muscle spasm and in some cases even muscle cramps.
But before we move on, I want to give you one very important advice.
As with most anxiety symptoms, I strongly recommend that you see your doctor to make sure that your shaking is caused by anxiety and not some other condition. If you’re not convinced by the diagnosis, feel free to get a second opinion. But make sure your body tremors are caused by stress and anxiety and not something else.
My Body Tremor Experience: Extreme Jumpiness
I’ve had to deal with body tremors in the past for about 3 or 4 years. In my case, my anxiety manifested itself as extreme jumpiness.
Whenever I felt frazzled and light-headed in a social situation or just randomly walking down the street, I would get extremely alert to movements around me and react with a sudden involuntary movement to unexpected noises.
For example, one thing that would repeatedly trigger this was barking dogs.
Whenever I would pass a fence and a guard dog suddenly started barking at me, I would literally change my posture in a split second and assume a kind of defensive stance. It was especially embarrassing when I was with my friends because I was the only one who did this - and they started laughing out loud every single time this happened.
I got ridiculed quite a bit becasue my humpiness.
The worst part was that these sudden movements weren't anything I had consciously planned, they just came from somewhere deep inside of me. It felt like a primal gut reaction to danger.
The funny thing is that for the most part, I wasn’t caught off-guard by the barking at all. On the contrary, I was almost expecting it to happen. And in a way I felt that I was “ready” to face the dog that was barking at me by making those sudden movements.
So even though I wasn’t trembling or shaking per se, my conscious mind was caught off-guard by a sudden and involuntary muscle movement that I wasn’t able to stop.
How Can Anxiety Make You Tremble?
So you might be wondering how anxiety can make you tremble or make involuntary muscle movements out of the blue just like that.
The answer is very interesting. I want you to travel back in time to when humans were still living in caves. They were hunting for gazelles on the Savannah – and being hunted by lions in return.
During those times we developed a very powerful mechanism to ensure our survival in the dangerous wilderness: the stress response.
Yes, trembling, shaking, body tremors and jumpiness all have to do with the stress response.
What the stress response does is it prepares you to fight your foe or flee from it. In other words, it puts you into fight or flight mode – and gives you super powers to give you the best chances of survival.
But what are these superpowers?
Well, if you’re about to pick a fight with a lion – a foolish decision by most standards – your body will pump more blood into your hands and your arm muscles. After all, you mainly fight with your hands, right?
But if you’re about to run away from a bear, your body will pump plenty of blood into your legs to make sure you’re able to outrun the bear and survive the encounter.
Once you’ve exerted superhuman effort and the encounter’s over with – or you’re over with – your body stops the stress response and you get to relax for several hours before something like this happens again.
In short, your body responds to stress by secreting certain hormones such as adrenaline that boost muscle strength and alertness. Once the threat is over, you get to rest and recover.
Now fast-forward to our modern times and I don’t need to tell you how ill-suited the fight or flight response is to our modern urban environment.
We don’t have many mountain lions running around the city anymore. What we have instead is mortgage loans, traffic jams and mean bosses at work that stress us out.
The thing is, you can no longer fight these things or run away from them. And that’s a problem because unless you consciously do it, there’s no way to reset the stress response naturally by fighting it out anymore.
What happens instead is, your body is stressed for the majority of the day and you never really get to “rest and recover” like in the old caveman days.
So your body keeps pumping the blood into your muscles and maintains a high level of alertness in response to the ever-present stress in your life.
But the anticipated danger never manifests itself physically. You never get to slap the ugly face of a mortgage loan or run for your life while your boss is chasing you down.
So all that blood and energy is just sitting there in your muscles – and every once in a while it overflows and makes your muscles twitch and tremble.
Or as in my case, my high level of alertness – that was designed to save my life from a lion ready to rip my gut open – is wasted on a random dog barking at me from behind a fence.
How to Stop Body Tremors Caused By Anxiety
If you read the previous section carefully, you should have a pretty good idea of how to stop and anxiety-induced trembling.
Here is a list of some of the things you can do to stop shaking caused by anxiety:
- Exercise is the body’s natural way to put an end to a stress response. Remember that back in our caveman days a big adrenaline rush was frequently followed by a “run for your life” session. The fastest and most healthy way to reduce body tremors is through short bursts of high intensity exercise.
- Stretching can also help reduce some of the shakings and involuntary muscle movements that you’re experiencing. The stress response not only pumps blood to your muscles but also keeps them tense so they can react to an emergency situation quickly. By consciously relaxing your tense muscles, you can short-circuit the stress response and force your body to calm down.
- Massage is another way to relax all the tense, vibrating muscles in your body. It not only feels great but it’s a great way to feel out the tense areas and work them until they relax.
- Make sure you enjoy enough good quality sleep. I’m talking about 7 to 8 hours of sleep without distractions and interruptions. Use an eye mask or earplugs if you have to. It really makes a huge difference.
- Consume foods rich in Magnesium such as sunflower seeds, broccoli, spinach and almonds. Magnesium is a mineral that’s responsible for muscle and nerve health so you want to make sure that your body has all the magnesium it needs.
- Drink plenty of water. Anxiety can make you sweat a lot and with sweat you’re not just getting dehydrated but you’re also losing precious minerals. So drink plenty to replenish your water supplies.
- Make sure you see a medical professional. You want to hear what’s causing your body tremor from a doctor – not only because it’s the smartest thing to do but also because you want to stop worrying about it. As long as you’re not entirely sure what’s causing your shaking, you’ll keep worrying and imagine all kinds of “worst-case-scenarios” in your head that are no doubt way worse than any diagnosis a doctor could give you. And the more you fantasize about the gruesome causes behind your body tremors, the more you’ll worry about your health and the more you’ll be feeding your anxiety. Do not leave diagnosis up to your imagination! See a doctor.
I know that having seemingly random body tremors can be a really weird and unpleasant experience, especially if they’re caused by anxiety.
But remember that at the end of the day, they’re just a byproduct of an adrenaline rush. And the more you worry about them and the more you obsess over this anxiety symptom, the more you perpetuate it in your life.
As with most symptoms of anxiety, you need to learn to calm down your mind and your body in order to stop having the symptom. Anything that helps you relax and recover from elevated stress levels is going to reduce your anxiety levels as well.
I hope you found this post valuable. If you need any help or you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment below this post and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.