- Are you tearing your hair out as you toss and turn in the middle of the night, while waiting with bated breath?
- There are many ways to express nervousness in the English language, so here are some useful phrases to use when you’re a bundle of nerves
As the season changes, it’s normal to feel a little down and uneasy because of the colder weather and shorter days. To face the winter blues, you need the right words to express your emotions. Here are some Cantonese slang phrases and English idioms to talk about anxiety.
1. Tear your hair out
Meaning: to feel anxious and upset because you are worried
Example: Eva has been tearing her hair out trying to meet the deadline for the assignment.
2. At your wits’ end
Meaning: to be so worried, confused, or annoyed that you do not know what to do next
Example: The mother was at her wits’ end after finding out her two-year-old son had tested positive for Covid-19.
3. Go to pieces
Meaning: to be so upset or nervous that you have a breakdown
Example: After losing her parents in a car accident, she went to pieces.
4. (Have) butterflies in the stomach
Meaning: to feel very nervous or frightened about something
Example: Before an exam, I always have butterflies in my stomach.
5. Like a cat on hot bricks
Meaning: very nervous or restless
Example: Martin was like a cat on hot bricks right before making his speech in front of the class.
6. Heart in your mouth
Meaning: to feel extremely nervous
Example: My heart was in my mouth when the plane was about to take off.
7. Hold your breath
Meaning: to wait anxiously or excitedly for something to happen or be announced
Example: Cheryl held her breath as she waited to receive a response from the company after finishing her final interview for a job there.
8. (Be) a bundle of nerves
Meaning: describes someone who is extremely nervous and worried
Example: Tom is always a bundle of nerves before he performs.
9. With bated breath
Meaning: feeling very anxious or excited
Example: We waited for the announcement with bated breath.
10. Break out in a cold sweat
Meaning: a state of extreme worry and fear
Example: I break out in a cold sweat whenever I visit the dentist.
Here are two phrases from Cantonese slang ...
爆煲 baau3 bou1 (bao-bowl): “burst pot”
Meaning: describes someone who is stressed out. Literally, the term refers to a pot that exploded because of overheating. People use it to describe someone who burns themselves out.
In English: burn out; stress out; break down; go to pieces
Example: The single mother worked her fingers to the bone to raise her children and finally bao-bowl after working non-stop for 20 hours.
囉囉攣 lo1 lo1 lyun1 (lo-lo-luan): “toss and turn”
Meaning: feeling anxious or restless because of sickness or emotional distress
In English: anxious; restless; butterflies in one’s stomach
Example: The night before the exam, Sam was lo-lo-luan worrying about his performance.