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Restless Anxiety

author image Barb Nefer
Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience. She is a mental health counselor, finance coach and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as "The Writer" and "Grit" and she authored the book, "So You Want to Be a Counselor."
Restless Anxiety
Anxiety often leads to restlessness. Photo Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Anxiety is a natural feeling that can be mild or extreme. It can indicate a mental disorder if it is bad enough to disrupt your life, but sometimes it's more like a low-grade restless feeling. This is normal if it does not hang on for weeks or months and if it mainly happens at stressful times. The National Institutes of Health explains it is healthy because the restlessness and other symptoms motivates you to deal with the source of stress.

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Normal anxiety is triggered by stressful or fear-inducing situations, according to the Help Guide mental health resource site. Restlessness is normal when you are anticipating a challenge. For example, it can happen before a job interview or first date with a new person. Restless feelings are the mind and body's way of putting you on alert and preparing you to handle the situation. It goes away when you are done.


Restlessness is only one symptom of normal anxiety. Help Guide advises that you may have concentration problems and feel irritable. Your breathing and heart rate will quicken, and your muscles will feel tense. You'll be on alert for danger signs and you may even feel that something bad is going to happen. This excess energy can be used to prepare for the upcoming challenge, the NIH advises. The physical changes prepare your body to fight or flee, although your reaction most likely won't have to be so extreme.

Time Frame

Normal anxiety and restlessness resolves itself when you are past the situation that triggered it. Sometimes, you continue to feel restless and have other emotional effects for no identifiable reason. This indicates that you might have an anxiety disorder, according to Help Guide. The feelings might last for several weeks or months with no obvious cause if you have generalized anxiety disorder. According to the National Panic & Anxiety Disorder News, 8 million Americans have generalized anxiety disorder in a typical year.


Restlessness can wear you down if you face many anxiety-inducing situations or if you have generalized anxiety disorder. This leads to other common anxiety symptoms, such as upset stomach, diarrhea, muscle pain, dizziness and headache, according to Help Guide. Worried thoughts linked to the restlessness can cause insomnia, nightmares and fatigue and interfere with sexual performance, NIH warns.


Some anxiety is preventable by exercising regularly, doing yoga, getting massages, writing in a journal, talking to friends, going out socially or relieving stress regularly in other ways. Restlessness can be reduced by finding ways to take control of the anxiety-inducing situation. For example, prepare for a job interview by thoroughly researching the company and rehearing answers to commonly asked questions. Get ready for a first date by buying a new outfit, taking extra time to get ready and planning conversation topics. Severe anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder may require professional treatment, according to Help Guide. This includes counseling, doctor-prescribed medication or both.

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