The 5 'hidden' ways your anxiety might be coming to the surface, without you even realising.

The past few months of our lives have been marked by an unwavering sense of uncertainty.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic reached our shores, the lives of thousands of people have been upturned in unimaginable ways.

Thousands have lost their jobs. Hundreds have fallen ill. And for almost all of us, it’s been a long time since we’ve felt a sense of normality.

Clinical and Health Psychologist Amanda Gordon helps break down how you can help your children if they’re suffering with anxiety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Post continues below.

Now, as we start to move towards an easing of lockdown measures across Australia, many people are struggling with the impact the pandemic has had on their mental health.

ReachOut, an online service for young people living with mental health issues, has seen an increase of visitation to their website by 50 per cent.

Likewise, Beyond Blue has reported an increase of nearly 60 per cent in calls.

For many people, however, the signs that COVID-19 is affecting their mental health can often go unnoticed.

Here are just five of the ways your anxiety might be surfacing, without you even realising.


1. You’re more irritable than usual.

Amanda Gordon, Armchair Psychology Clinical Director and Endorsed Clinical and Health Psychologist, has been working in mental health for more than 30 years.

In her experience, she’s been seeing “a lot of irritability” during this time period.

Generally, this irritability may be directed at yourself or at others. You may be more likely to be overly self-critical, or you may find that you’re snapping at your partner or housemate more often than usual.

“[There are] a lot of arguments within relationships, that aren’t normally there,” Gordon told Mamamia.

2. You aren’t sleeping well.

For many of us, sleep can be a good indicator of when anxiety is surfacing.

You could be feeling more tired than usual and feel the need to sleep for longer, or you might be struggling to get to sleep all together.

“Sleep is a real problem for a lot of people,” Gordon said.

“Some might argue that they’re not as tired as they are used to being, but for others, it’s because they’re anxious and their sleep is being interfered with.”

Earlier this year, Dr Amy Reynolds, a sleep researcher and senior lecturer at CQUniversity shared her tips with Mamamia on getting good sleep.

  • “No tech an hour before bed.”
  • “Try to set your bedtime.”
  • “Avoid coffee after lunchtime. That’s a big one to some people, because caffeine can stay in your blood for a really long time.”
  • “Most of all, prioritising sleep is important. We talk about diet, we talk about exercise and keeping moving — sleep is just as important.”

Listen to Mia Freedman chat to psychologist Amanda Gordon on No Filter below. Post continues after podcast.

3. You’re getting more headaches.

Some physical symptoms, such as headaches and nausea, can indicate signs of anxiety.

These more subtle, physical signs of anxiety can include headaches, stomach upset, nausea, insomnia, gastrointestinal issues, and more.

“People have described it in the past in literature as being ‘out of sorts’,” Gordon explained. “Not being your normal self. Not responding in the way that you normally do to things.”

4. You’re feeling more tired than usual.

Although you may not be as busy as you normally would be, it’s likely that you could be feeling more tired than usual at the moment.

As Gordon explained: “Feeling tired, even though you’re getting enough sleep, can also be a sign of anxiety”.

Many people are currently struggling with feelings of fatigue – especially as we’ve been operating in a heightened state and running on adrenaline since the pandemic began.

5. A lack of motivation.

Similarly, another way that anxiety may surface is that you may find you don’t have much interest in anything.

Due to a change in routine and a loss of structure, it’s common to experience a lack of motivation during this time. But while this sign and the ones listed above aren’t exactly out of the ordinary right now, they may also provide an indication that you need to seek professional support.

mental health
Image: Getty.

What are some ways I can manage my anxiety at this time?

Speaking to Mamamia, psychologist Amanda Gordon outlined some of the ways we can manage our anxiety during this time.

Gordon recommended "caring for yourself by eating well, exercising regularly, and connecting with friends and family".

She also reiterated the importance of living in the moment and looking through life through a positive lens.

"It's important to find ways to live in the moment, instead of spending your time wondering what will happen next or thinking, 'When will these restrictions be lifted?'" she said.

"Living in the moment is so important."

How can I seek professional help?

If you are struggling with your mental health right now, there are a number of ways that you can seek professional help.

"You can go directly to a psychologist, many are doing a combination of online and in-person sessions at the moment," Gordon shared.

She explained that seeing your GP is the first step, because they can set you up with a Mental Health Plan, allowing you to access Medicare rebates for up to 10 sessions with a psychologist.

You can find out more details about finding support below.

If you think you may be struggling with your mental health, please contact your general practitioner. If you’re based in Australia, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636. For more on Amanda Gordon, visit the Armchair Psychology website.

The current situation around COVID-19 might be making you feel scared or uncertain. It's okay to feel this way, but it's also important to learn how to manage feelings of anxiety during this time. To download the free PDF: Anxiety & Coronavirus - How to Manage Feelings of Anxiety click here.

Feature Image: Getty.

Sign up for the "Mamamia Daily" newsletter. Get across the stories women are talking about today.