There are always signs and signals that all is not well and that you are sliding back into old ways of thinking and being that leave you overwhelmed and anxious. It’s important to know what these early warning signs are so you can be aware of them, and take appropriate action when they occur.

What are Early Warning Signs?

Early warning signs are subtle changes in your thoughts, emotions, behaviours and physical sensations in response to a trigger.

What types of Early Warning signs are there?

Cognitive Signs:

  • Increased worry or preoccupation with negative outcomes
  • Racing thoughts or difficulty concentrating
  • Heightened self-doubt or negative self-talk
  • Intrusive thoughts or rumination about past experiences or future uncertainties

Emotional Signs:

  • Heightened levels of anxiety, tension, or nervousness
  • Irritability, mood swings, or emotional volatility
  • Feelings of overwhelm, helplessness, or hopelessness
  • Increased sensitivity to stressors or changes in emotional resilience

Behavioural Signs:

  • Avoidance behaviours, such as avoiding triggers or situations that evoke anxiety
  • Withdrawal from social activities or increased isolation
  • Changes in sleep patterns, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Procrastination or difficulty initiating and completing tasks

Physiological Signs:

  • Muscle tension, restlessness, or physical agitation
  • Fatigue, lethargy, or decreased energy levels
  • Changes in appetite or eating patterns, such as overeating or loss of appetite
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as stomach aches or nausea
Action Step

Now lets create a list the early warning signs that happen for you so you are really clear on what are the red flags that indicate your anxiety is returning, or worsening.

  1. Look back at the list of triggers you wrote in your journal for Topic 2. It may be helpful to think of particular times when your anxiety worsened after a period of improvement.
  2. For each trigger and instance of anxiety, write a list of cognitive signs that occur when that trigger happens. What did you observe in your thoughts? What beliefs did you engage with?
  3. What emotional signs occur when you are triggered and indicate emerging anxiety? What feelings and emotions become more present when you are triggered?
  4. What changes in your behaviour or habits do you notice when you are triggered? Do you find yourself withdrawing from social interactions and avoiding certain situations? Are there changes in your relationships or communication?
  5. How does your body respond to these triggers? What sensations and feelings in your body do you experience?