The world around us changes at a rapid pace; the way we live today is very different from our ancestors, our perception of danger and stress has radically altered. However our physiological stress responses have not changed, we release the same hormone when faced with danger as our predecessors.
What has dramatically changed is what we perceive as dangerous or stressful, imagine being faced with a Saber tooth tiger or a huge human battle when your only protection is a sword; here we desperately need our fight or flight stress response because it is a life or death situation that requires a quick reaction.
In todays society, life threatening danger is limited; our perception of stress is more about a fast moving competitive environment and personal issues.
Its not that our perception of stress is any less critical than the stress of our ancestors, what is different is our bodies return to a normal state.
The stress response releases hormones adrenaline and cortisol, chemicals, which promote physical, changes to enable fight or flight – basically either run or fight for your life. Our hearts beat rapidly, breathing increases, to get oxygen around the body, blood sugar levels rise and energy is readily available, some muscle groups are partially shut down, all the energy is directed to the larger muscles, peripheral vision is increased to help see laterally. Cortisol inhibits pain and produces cells to repair injury; In short our body is prepared to meet oncoming danger and respond appropriately.
Historically as soon as the danger ceases to exist, which is after a relatively short time, the individual is either dead or has escaped the danger in which case their body slows down and returns to a normal state.
Today we get the same hormonal release but our perception of stress is not life threatening, leaving us with the physiological chemical changes listed above. We don’t need to run, fight, or be physical, therefore the adrenaline and cortisol stay in our body; resulting in jittery, restless, nervous behaviour and irritability. Cortisol, is responsible for controlling blood sugar and metabolism; high levels of this hormone can cause weight gain, weakened muscles and mood swings.
Anxiety is a result of a stress response and hormone release, which hasn’t been used effectively as energy. The chemical changes stay in the body causing feelings which can be presented as panic, nausea, being over whelmed, fear, distress, edgy, apprehensive and uneasiness. These types of feelings often promote unhelpful and intrusive thoughts, which in turn drives behaviours such as avoidance, risk taking, self destruct, obsessions, phobia’s, depression and an aversion to social situations.
It might be easy to understand how our mind might be driven to issues like anxiety but overcoming anxiety takes personal understanding. We are all unique and what makes one person anxious, may not be the same for another, in fact if we were to look issues causing anxiety then they would be different for everyone. This means that there is not a simple universal answer to fixing anxiety; individuals need time and probably help to uncover and discover what the trigger or initial starting point might be.
The only real way to over come anxiety is to understand the way we think, then develop a helpful thought process to counteract the intrusive thinking.
Anxiety is a very common issue and extends to to majority of the population.
- As many as 1 in 6 British adults have experienced anxiety or depression in the previous week.
- More than 1 in 10 people will have ‘disabling anxiety’ at some time in their life.
- An estimated 13% of the adult population will develop a phobia at some point in their life.
- Around 40% of all disability worldwide is due to depression or anxiety.
- There are approximately 3 million people in the UK with anxiety but only around 25% are currently receiving treatment.
Human nature is to create a safe environment to live in, however anxiety is intrusive and can invade how safe we feel. We may experience sudden feelings of being trapped, paranoid or suffocated in a place which once felt comfortable; you may also find yourself over thinking everything, or having a rapid unhelpful thought process.
Other symptoms may include, sleeping problems, feeling exhausted, tired, shaky or nauseous, it might be difficult to get your thoughts into any logical order, you may become temporarily forgetful or not even remember people name.
Physically you might have a tight chest or even chest pains, gastric issues are also very common, constipation, diarrhoea and bloated tummy are all good examples of how anxiety can affects us.
Tips for overcoming anxiety:
To begin start by exploring your thoughts, imagine your thoughts as a movie playing out on a TV screen, using an imaginary remote control pause each thought so you can identify it.
Then ask yourself how does this thought make me feel? Is it helpful or unhelpful? (Unhelpful thoughts are often ‘what if’ thoughts or ‘all or nothing’ thinking
Challenge the unhelpful thoughts, for example ‘is this really likely to happen?
What is the worst thing that could happen?
Is this really true or does it just feel true now?
How could I prepare in case the worst does happen?’
Take a warm bath, listen to some music or read a book.
Listen to a meditation or hypnotherapy track to relax and unwind. (We have these available to buy)
If your thoughts stop you sleeping try writing them down then put them away in a drawer for the night.
Try a mental exercise like thinking of a name or food that begins with each letter of the alphabet
Are you restless?
- Exercise produces endorphins which make you feel good, they also counteract adrenaline, reducing the physical affect of adrenaline. If exercise is not your thing then yoga, walking, cleaning and gardening are all effective ways of reducing adrenaline.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and recreational drugs.
- Write down want you want or need to do and number according to importance. Then start at task 1 and don’t start 2 until 1 is completed, this will give you a sense of accomplishment.
- Turn off sources of distraction or stimulation, Facebook updates and Emails can wait for an hour.
Do you have butterflies in the tummy / Gastric complaints?
- Concentrate on taking deep breaths into your tummy, really feel the air filling up your stomach then be aware of the air and the tension leaving your stomach, calm and relaxed.
- Your diet is important, healthy natural foods will prevent bloating and uncomfortable feelings.
- Herbs and Aromatherapy can help, try sipping chamomile or peppermint tea or even eating ginger biscuits. Sprinkling a little lavender oil around can also help to calm you down too.
Sweating / Breathlessness / Tight Chest / Shaking / Tremors
- Firstly and most importantly check with your GP that there is no physical cause for your symptoms.
- Try breathing in slowly through your nose while counting to two, then breathing out slowly through your mouth for a count of 3.
- Concentrate on doing something, write, draw, exercise anything that requires you to focus whilst physically doing something else. If you like books or TV get engrossed lose yourself.
- Being stuck in one place can be difficult, try closing your eyes and imagining yourself somewhere else, if your feeling hot and flushed imagining yourself in a igloo or swimming in a cooling sea.
If you think you require help manage anxiety then we can offer counselling, this is a safe place for you to explore your feelings and emotions in a non judgemental confidential way.
Take a look at our website pages for more information on how counselling works.
We provide a 30 minute free consultation, so you can discuss and explore if this is the right option for you.
To contact us email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile 07584 247 099 or 07973 782 647