Feels Like The Floor Is Moving – Anxiety Symptoms

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated May 19, 2021

floor feels like it is moving anxiety symptoms

Floor moving, dropping, swaying anxiety symptoms description:

  • You experience a sudden falling or dropping sensation, as if the floor beneath you just dropped as if in an elevator, yet you are standing or sitting on a firm surface.
  • It also might seem like your body just dropped a few feet even though the surface you are lying, sitting or standing on hasn’t moved.
  • It also might seem as if the floor beneath you is moving, dropping, or swaying, yet it actually isn’t.
  • It also might seem as if you stepped on a soft surface that dropped, when it actually didn’t.
  • It can also seem like you are standing or walking on a boat on water because the surface is moving and swaying even though it actually isn’t.
  • It can also seem like the surface you are on is moving and making you feel unsteady on your feet.

When this anxiety symptom occurs, it might frighten you. Many people fear this symptom because they initially think that it is being caused by a brain issue or by a serious neurological or biological problem with the nervous system. This fear can be sufficient to initiate a panic attack.

This floor moving feeling can precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety symptoms, or occur by itself.

Feels like the floor is moving anxiety symptom can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur ‘out of the blue’ and for no apparent reason.

Feels like the floor is moving anxiety symptom can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves where it’s strong one moment and eases off the next.

Feels like the floor is moving anxiety symptom can change from day to day, moment to moment, and from occurrence to occurrence.

All of the above combinations and variations are common.

To see if anxiety might be playing a role in your anxiety symptoms, rate your level of anxiety using our free one-minute instant results Anxiety Test, Anxiety Disorder Test, or Hyperstimulation Test.

The higher the rating, the more likely it could be contributing to your anxiety symptoms, including feeling cold or chilled.

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What causes the feels like floor is moving symptom?

Medical Advisory

Anxiety activates the stress response. The stress response immediately causes specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body's ability to deal with a threat - to either fight with or flee from it - which is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.[1][2]

Part of the stress response changes include stimulating the nervous system, since stress hormones are stimulants and heightening our senses so that we are more aware of and reactive to our environment. Again, these changes are designed to improve our chances of survival when in real danger.

When stress responses occur infrequently, the body can recover relatively quickly from the physiological, psychological, and emotional changes the stress response brings about. As a result, these emergency response changes are temporary and generally leave no lingering effects.

When stress responses occur too frequently and/or dramatically, however, the body has a more difficult time recovering, which can result in the body remaining in a semi emergency readiness state, which we call stress-response hyperstimulation (others refer to this state as hyperarousal).[3][4] A body that becomes hyperstimulated can exhibit similar sensations and symptoms to that of an active stress response, AND can include odd symptoms associated with chronic stress, since stress responses stress the body.[5][6] The feels like floor is moving symptom is an example of how the body can ‘misbehave’ when overly stressed.

While the exact cause of this symptom is unknown, it’s thought that an overly stimulated nervous system can cause the nervous system and the body’s sensory organs to send and receive errant sensory information.[6][7] This errant information can be perceived as the feels like floor is moving symptom. And because the body uses its sensory organs and nervous system, which includes the brain, to establish balance and placement in our 3D world,[8][9] a hyperstimulated nervous system and how it can misbehave can cause a brief disruption to our sense of balance and stability.

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How to get rid of the feel like floor is moving symptoms?

The feels like floor is moving symptoms are just a symptom of chronic stress, and therefore, needn't be a cause for concern. It will subside when you reduce your stress and give your body ample time to recover from the effects of chronic stress. As your body's stress returns to a healthy level, symptoms of stress subside, including the feels like floor is moving symptom. Therefore, this symptom needn't be a cause for concern.

Worrying is an example of apprehensive behavior that creates anxiety, which stresses the body. So, worrying about the feels like the floor is moving symptoms will prevent the body from recovering. While reducing stress can eliminate hyperstimulation, it’s also important to contain your worry, as uncontained worry is a common cause of stress and persistent anxiety symptoms.

If you are having difficulty containing your worry, you may want to connect with one of our recommended anxiety disorder therapists. Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to overcome what seems like unmanageable worry.[10][11][12]

Chapter 9 in the Recovery Support area of our website is our anxiety symptoms chapter. It contains detailed information about all anxiety symptoms, including what they are, why they occur, what you can do to eliminate them, and how many people experience them (the percentage of people who experience each anxiety symptom).

The Recovery Support area also contains helpful information about all of the effects of hyperstimulation and why recovery from hyperstimulation can take so long. And so much more.

If you are struggling with anxiety symptoms and frustrated with your attempts at recovery, the information in the Recovery Support area might be what makes all the difference. We designed this information to help you overcome a struggle with anxiety disorder.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our anxiety disorders signs and symptoms page.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including feels like the floor is moving anxiety symptoms.


1. Selye H. Endocrine reactions during stress. Anesthesia & Analgesia. 1956;35:182–193. [PubMed]

2. "Understanding the Stress Response - Harvard Health." Harvard Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2016.

3. Selye, H. (1956). The stress of life. New York, NY, US: McGraw-Hill.

4. Teixeira, Renata Roland, et al. “Chronic Stress Induces a Hyporeactivity of the Autonomic Nervous System in Response to Acute Mental Stressor and Impairs Cognitive Performance in Business Executives.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2015..

5. Z, Fatahi, et al. "Effect of acute and subchronic stress on electrical activity of basolateral amygdala neurons in conditioned place preference paradigm: An electrophysiological study." Behavioral Brain Research, 29 Sept. 2017.

6. Justice, Nicholas J., et al. “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder-Like Induction Elevates β-Amyloid Levels, Which Directly Activates Corticotropin-Releasing Factor Neurons to Exacerbate Stress Responses.” Journal of Neuroscience, Society for Neuroscience, 11 Feb. 2015..

7. Laine, Mikaela A, et al. “Brain Activation Induced by Chronic Psychosocial Stress in Mice.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2017.

8. Bear,Connors, Paradiso (2016). Neuroscience: Exploring the brain - Fourth Edition. In The Auditory and Vestibular Systems (pp. 369-413). New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer

9. Watson, Mary Ann, et al. “The Human Balance System.” Vestibular Disorders Association, 28 Sept. 2018.

10. Hofmann, Stefan G., et al. “The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-Analyses.” Cognitive Therapy and Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Oct. 2012.

11. Leichsenring, Falk. “Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy the Gold Standard for Psychotherapy?” JAMA, American Medical Association, 10 Oct. 2017.

12. DISCLAIMER: Because each body is somewhat chemically unique, and because each person will have a unique mix of symptoms and underlying factors, recovery results may vary. Variances can occur for many reasons, including due to the severity of the condition, the ability of the person to apply the recovery concepts, and the commitment to making behavioral change.