Recently I messed up. No one was hurt. I could have been hurt. But my actions drew unwanted attention to myself and my mistake. That night, I couldn't fall asleep. I woke up early and could not get back to sleep. My mind playing over and over the event. What would this mean to those who had witnessed it? How I may be being perceived was stressful.
This is anxiety. These worries are things I cannot control. Sure I can do a number of other things in the presence of these witnesses to attempt to change what they may be thinking... but they will always think what they choose to think regardless of my desire. I cannot go back in time and change the event. This then creates a loop that can build on intensity or even just continue to spin in unease.
Sometimes we are not even aware of what our thoughts are. We just have the physical symptoms of anxiety. Our heart is racing a bit. We feel a sense of agitation or anger. Or we may just become lethargic and not want to get out of bed and see people. Elevated heart rate, a desire to move quickly, or a desire to drink, eat, move away. Chest breathing. Twitches of the body. These can be signs of anxiety. Interventions here can include making ourselves breath differently. Sounds easy, but in case of high anxiety can be difficult. Box breathing is one recommended method. In for four counts. Hold for four counts. Exhale four counts and hold the breath out for four counts. Or extending exhale. In for four counts and out for up to eight counts. These breathing choices activate the parasympathetic nervous system and increase relaxation in the body.
You could argue that alcohol and/or eating will activate the parasympathetic nervous system, since this is the system that supports digestion. However, alcohol and food can cause a disruption in our ability to sleep properly. Alcohol has a tendency to cause wakefulness through the night. Too much food in the belly denies us REM cycles of sleep. Without sleep, the body cannot manage all that cortisol in the body and return to homeostasis. Thus you are now more prone to experience the stress response, elevated sympathetic nervous system response. This keeps you in the spin cycle in the diagram above.