Feeling Restless: 5 Strategies to Find Peace and Calm

Restlessness is an often misunderstood condition characterized by an unpleasant and relentless urge to move or the inability to relax. It is a multifaceted symptom that can present as a sign of various physical and mental health issues.

Understanding Restlessness

Restlessness is an often misunderstood condition characterized by an unpleasant and relentless urge to move or the inability to relax.

It is a multifaceted symptom that can present as a sign of various physical and mental health issues.

Symptoms and Signs

Restlessness manifests through both physical and psychological signs.

Symptoms include an incessant need to move, trouble concentrating, and nervousness.

Physically, individuals might exhibit repetitive movements or fidgeting.

Signs may also encompass irritability and difficulty staying still, particularly noticeable in quiet or restful situations.

Common Causes

The triggers of restlessness are diverse, ranging from lifestyle factors to medical conditions.

Excessive intake of stimulants like caffeine can exacerbate feelings of nervous energy.

Medical conditions such as thyroid disorders, specifically hyperthyroidism, can cause metabolic disturbances that lead to restlessness.

Furthermore, neurological conditions like ADHD, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and autism are known to include restlessness as a symptom.

Restlessness in Mental Health Conditions

Mental health plays a pivotal role in the experience of restlessness.

It is a common symptom in individuals with anxiety and depression, representing a physical manifestation of internal turmoil.

In the context of anxiety, agitation and restlessness go hand in hand, disrupting an individual’s everyday life.

The ongoing pandemic has also heightened these feelings among the general population due to increased stress and uncertainty.

Dealing with Restlessness

A figure paces back and forth, unable to sit still, fidgeting with objects nearby, and constantly shifting their gaze

Restlessness can significantly disrupt a person’s life, but there are a variety of effective methods to manage and reduce it.

The key to coping with restlessness is identifying the underpinning causes and addressing them with the appropriate blend of medical, therapeutic, and lifestyle-oriented strategies.

Medical Treatments

Medical treatments for restlessness often depend on the underlying condition.

When related to mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, antipsychotics may be prescribed, despite potential side effects like akathisia, which could increase restlessness symptoms.

For conditions like ADHD, medications such as stimulants are commonly used to improve focus and decrease hyperactivity, enhancing overall wellbeing.

If the restlessness is a result of withdrawal from benzodiazepines, a controlled tapering process is typically necessary.

  • Commonly Prescribed Medications:
    • Antidepressants for mood stabilization
    • Mood stabilizers for bipolar disorder
    • Antiemetics for nausea-induced restlessness
    • Beta-blockers for physical symptoms of anxiety, like palpitations

Therapy and Psychological Strategies

Therapy and psychological strategies offer support for emotional and mental components of restlessness. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on changing negative thought patterns that contribute to anxiety and restlessness.

For some, talk therapy helps by providing a space to process emotions, traumas, and coping mechanisms.

Psychological strategies also involve relaxation techniques such as:

  • Relaxation Techniques:
    • Mindfulness meditation to focus the mind
    • Breathing exercises to control physical responses to stress
    • Visualization to calm the nervous system

Self-Help and Lifestyle Adjustments

Proactive self-help measures and lifestyle changes can complement medical and therapeutic approaches, substantially improving quality of life.

Regular exercise can alleviate symptoms like fatigue and difficulty concentrating by releasing endorphins and reducing adrenaline levels.

Adjustments to diet, ensuring a variety of nutrients and avoiding stimulants, can stabilize energy levels and improve sleep patterns.


  • Lifestyle Activities:
    • Yoga to reduce physical and mental restlessness
    • Massage to relax tense muscles and ease uneasiness
    • Structuring the day to provide a routine for those who feel unsettled by excitement or panic

can help individuals feel more grounded and less prone to racing thoughts or agitation associated with anxiety disorders.

It is also important to maintain healthy relationships and support networks, which can offer a sense of security and connectedness.