Believe it or not, a little bit of stress is a good thing — honestly! Imagine if you had a paper due at midnight, and at 8 p.m. you realize that you still hadn’t started it. That stress you feel to get it done is what gets you away from the TV and ready to hit the books. But how do you know when stress starts to become something else, like anxiety?

Though anxiety should always be identified by a professional, these are a few signs that you may have anxiety.

  1. Excessive worry. We all worry about things from time-to-time — like a paper due soon, or a fight you had with a friend. But if you’re noticing that you’re worrying about things that are months, if not years away, or you don’t know what you’re worrying about at all, it may be a sign of anxiety.
  2. You can’t sleep. Trouble sleeping can be caused by a number of health problems — both physical and mental. But one of the main signs of anxiety is that though your body is tired, your mind is racing. Research suggests that nearly half of all people with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) have trouble falling asleep.
  3. Tense muscles. Muscle tension can be caused by numerous things, but if you’re noticing that everyday you are clenching your jaw or balling your fists, it may be a symptom of anxiety. One of the best solutions for anxiety-induced muscle tension is exercise, meditation, and yoga.
  4. Fear of talking to others. We’ve all experienced stage fright, or that feeling of butterflies in your stomach when you’re talking to someone you don’t know. But if the fear of meeting new people is so great that it prevents you from going out and experiencing new things, it may be a sign of social anxiety.
  5. Panic attacks. While not everyone who has panic attacks also has an anxiety disorder, panic attacks are one of the most common signs of anxiety. Panic attacks typically consist of shortness of breath, a racing heart, and sweating or dizziness.

For young adults, life is full of little stressors and obstacles. If you or someone you know is looking to find their path on the way to success while having a learning or emotional disability, Debra Solomon of Spectrum Strategies offers group and individual coaching services.