Why do I have anxiety? What makes people anxious?

What you will learn from this article:

  • Learn the emotional and physical symptoms of anxiety
  • Understand that you have the power to reframe your state
  • Discover how to use your fear before it uses you
  • Find tools to help you be productive even when anxiety strikes

anxiety symptoms woman staring at clock

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Do you feel constantly anxious? Worried about being worried? Have crippling panic attacks or feel terrified by everyday situations? Do you regularly ask yourself, “Why am I so anxious?” If you find yourself wondering why some people experience only occasional anxiety while others seem immobilized by fear, you’re not alone.

The truth is, everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lives and feeling anxious is a normal part of many everyday situations. Some experience feeling anxious before speaking to a group or having to navigate heavy traffic while others get nervous when flying or during confrontation. Feeling anxious in certain situations is normal. But when anxiety becomes constant and excessive, it causes people to feel out of control and frequently makes the activities of daily life difficult. In some cases, it may even benefit the individual to seek out treatment for their anxiety.

The definition of anxiety

Many people want to define anxiety so they can be sure they have it. The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as an emotion that is characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. If this is a temporary issue triggered by a certain event, it can be normal and not a cause for concern. However, if the duration or severity of your anxiety is out of proportion to the stressor, if physical symptoms detract from your overall health or if your symptoms of anxiety interfere with your daily functioning, you may have an anxiety disorder.

If you want to know what to do when feeling anxious, this article will help. Here you’ll learn about what causes anxiety and get an overview of anxiety symptoms. We’ll also cover some ways to start treating anxiety so you can start unlocking an extraordinary life today.

Why do I feel anxious?

anxiety symptoms city street with cars in heavy traffic

Why do people get anxiety? The causes of anxiety disorders aren’t fully understood, and there can actually be many things that ignite anxiety in people. Life experiences such as traumatic events appear to trigger anxiety disorders in people who are already prone to anxiety. Inherited traits also can be a factor. Anxiety also manifests in a variety of ways and can have multiple triggers for different people.

All told, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 40 million adults in the United States have some kind of anxiety disorder. That’s roughly 18% of the adult population. Women are also twice as likely to be affected as men when it comes to feeling anxious.

Instead of breaking down the range of specific anxiety disorders, here we will stick to general symptoms of anxiety. One thing all kinds of anxiety have in common, though, is the person’s excessive, persistent fear or worry in non-threatening situations.

Symptoms of anxiety

Symptoms of anxiety can be emotional, physical or a combination of both that often cause you to stop and wonder, “Why am I so anxious in this situation?” Symptoms of anxiety can include one or more of the following:

Physical anxiety symptoms

  • Racing or pounding heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Shakes, tremors or trembling
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Sleep problems: excessive fatigue or having trouble sleeping
  • Upset stomach
  • Muscle tension

anxiety symptoms woman laying in bed stretching arms

signs of emotional anxiety

Emotional anxiety symptoms

  • Feeling nervous, tense or restless
  • A sense of impending doom or danger
  • State of panic
  • Constantly anticipating the worst and looking out for danger
  • Feeling jumpy
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating on anything beyond present worry
  • Urge to avoid anxiety triggers (activities, people, etc.)
Do I have anxiety?

It’s important to know when feeling anxious is normal and when it’s a sign of something more serious. Again, we all have anxious moments or events. But if anxiety is driving your life and preventing you from doing what you want to do, it’s probably time to seek some help and make some changes. Tony encourages people who are feeling anxious to use your fear before your fear uses you. To do that, you need to break your current pattern and be active when it comes to finding help.

Anxiety due to lack of self-care

Some people are constantly doing things for others and it’s not until they stop and ask themselves, “Why do I feel anxious?” that they realize they’ve neglected their own self-care. Taking time for ourselves to eat nutritiously, exercise and reconnect with ourselves is one of the best ways to fight feeling anxious. Realize that taking time for self-care is not selfish – in fact, it is one of the most unselfish things you can do because it allows you to be at your best when others need your help or attention.

Anxiety as a driver, not an immobilizer

Not everyone reacts to anxiety in the same way, but why? Varying degrees of feeling anxious has to do with how you’re wired. Think of it this way: For some people, jumping out of a plane is the most exciting thing they can do. For others, it’s what comes to mind when they’re asked to define anxious feelings. But you can train yourself to change how you react, especially with direct mental conditioning. Think of this as muscle training for stress.

We all have habits we repeat and stories we tell ourselves and this develops our beliefs – both the empowering ones and the beliefs that limit us. These connect to the power of language; the more you say something, the more true it becomes, right? That’s the power of momentum. So when you use phrases like “I’m so overwhelmed” or “I’m so anxious,” you’re unconsciously training yourself to feel that way. This explains why asking yourself “Why am I so anxious?” can actually lead to more anxiety instead of finding solutions.

Those who get stuck in a negative feedback loop of limiting thoughts and beliefs can turn normal symptoms of feeling anxious into more pervasive anxiety disorders. It’s imperative to break this cycle and the sooner you can do it, the better. When you change your words, you change your life, and one of the best ways to do this is through mental conditioning.

Using mental conditioning when feeling anxious

What if you could train yourself to feel strong, to feel passion and joy? Instead of asking yourself “Why do I feel anxious?”, what if you could instead push those thoughts and feelings away through imagery? Through mental conditioning, you can.

When you are feeling anxious, try visualizing yourself as a confident, strong person handling your current situation. Make it as clear in your mind as possible. Imagine slow breathing, a steady heartbeat and an absolute conviction that you can handle whatever situation is thrown your way. Though mental conditioning takes time and persistence, it’s well worth it to reduce feeling anxious and get more out of each day.

To be clear, this kind of training doesn’t mean you’ll never end up feeling anxious ever again. But it gives you the tools you need to acknowledge your sense of anxiety, deal with it and move on.

Another key step to consider when wondering what to do when feeling anxious is to focus on something larger. Don’t make these changes just to serve yourself. Find a greater purpose, one that gives you energy. This could be your family, community, even the world at large. Motives matter and can do a world of difference when it comes to treating your anxiety. As Tony always says, where focus goes, energy flows. When you focus on a cause or higher purpose, your energy flows outward and feeling anxious naturally fades.

Getting help when feeling anxious

Depending on the severity of your symptoms of anxiety and how much they are interfering with your life, getting professional help can be the best solution. If you are constantly asking yourself “Why do I feel anxious?”, if it’s hurting your relationships or career or if you feel it has compromised your overall quality of life, it’s time to seek help. Here are some options.

Work with a coach

Though life coaches are not therapists, they are trained to empower you and help you get the most out of life. They can provide techniques that help you manage symptoms of anxiety and get yourself out of negative thought-loops as well as provide ways for you to find greater fulfillment in your life.

working with a coach

See a therapist


There is no shame in getting professional help when symptoms of anxiety become overwhelming or if they lead to depression you can’t shake. Therapy can help you reframe experiences from your past, work through painful emotions and develop new, empowering ways of thinking and viewing your experiences.

Though feeling anxious can be a normal feeling in certain situations, constantly asking yourself “Why do I feel anxious?” is not. You owe it to yourself to get to the root cause of your anxiety so you can live a fuller life. Want more ideas for how to deal with anxiety? Learn more here.

Important Note

The information and other content provided in this article, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. See full disclaimer.

Find your greater, empowering purpose in life

Train yourself to consistently create empowering beliefs that steer you towards success and fulfillment. Read Tony Robbins’ Limiting Beliefs guide and shape the life you deserve.