Sweaty palms. Racing thoughts. Tense muscles. All are clues that you’re feeling stressed or anxious. But here’s a question:

How long does it usually take you to notice you’re feeling anxious?

For some of us, the answer is too long. It’ll have been an hour of our minds racing before we even recognize that we’re stuck in a worry spiral. Or, we’ll be almost having a panic attack before we realize wow, I am really stressing.

For reddit user PM-ME-HAPPY-THOUGHTS, someone else had to point it out to them:

“I was starting to hate my first job at a call center. One day, after 10 solid minutes of convincing myself I wasn’t going to quit, I sit down at my desk, start to [log] into my phone, and I feel a tingling in my fingers. Then in my arm. Both arms. It hit my face next, and everywhere that tingled was locked up so tight it was useless, so I couldn’t type or talk. Supervisor took me to the main lobby and told me I was having an anxiety attack. It explained a lot of my previous behavior when I was diagnosed.”

So many of us can relate to the idea of being surprised by our own anxiety. Thing is, we’re surrounded by signs that we’re anxious. The key is to put some effort into noticing them.

Are your anxiety cues usually physical, mental, or behavioral?

Not sure? Well, some physical cues of anxiety might be sweaty palms, tense muscles, shortness of breath. For a lot of us, the mental cue is worry. Or negative thinking. And for some of us, it’s things we do–fidgeting, over-planning, procrastinating. And for you, it might be something else.

Figuring out your anxiety cues could change your life.

OK, that might sound dramatic. But, it’s true. Because if you start to listen to your body and pay attention to your thoughts and actions, you’ll start to see patterns. And once you understand your pattern, you can start to think about what can change.

Lisa Vertudaches

“Beginning to notice what happens in my body and how it feels has given me a powerful way to spot anxiety symptoms,” says Amy Marlow at Healthline. “Getting to know my own anxiety has been the key to helping me unlock it.”

That’s why we, and all the folks who practice CBT, recommend tracking your anxiety cues. Because as soon as you start noticing your anxiety, you can start doing something about it.

Need help? Sign up for our Four Day Cue Tracking Challenge.

Originally published at www.allmentalhealth.org