Anxiety and Stress
Are you having trouble either getting to sleep or staying asleep because your mind is always full?
Do you spend a lot of time turning situations over and planning what you’re going to do or say? Do you make backup plans in case something unexpected happens?
Do you have feelings of dread, panic, or wanted to escape from the situation that you’re in?
Feelings of stress, anxiety, and worry are all totally normal parts of our life experience. Having stress or worry is a response that makes us take action, helps us pay attention, and work out what it is that we should be doing.
Where the stress and anxiety become a problem, is when they start taking up a larger amount of time than the problem at hand warrants. We’ve all had the experience of having a sleepless night worrying over a situation, turning over the what-ifs and various scenarios, only for it to turn out to be easily and speedily resolved the next day. An anxiety disorder is similar to having rows of days like this, with multiple situations at once demanding time, energy and attention, leading a person to feel like they have too much to do and manage, which keeps them from taking steps to resolve the issues, releasing them from their worries.
The symptoms of anxiety can be physical as well as mental. This is because when we become stressed and anxious we activate our ‘fight or flight’ response. This response served us well back in prehistoric times when the threats in our environment were saber-toothed tigers or dangerous weather patterns. In fact, the people who worried the best tended to be the ones who stayed alive longest, and who managed to keep their offspring alive. So, it’s good to know that we’ve descended from a line of people who worried often and worried well.
The difference between then and now is that most of our threats aren’t immediate. They aren’t something that we can take action for and then move on. And this inability to move is what causes all those stress hormones to stay in our bodies. Those increased stress hormones lead to experiencing the following physical symptoms:
- Changes in breathing
- Flushing and feeling hot
- Racing heart
- Dry mouth
- Stomach aches, nausea and other gastric issues
- Emotional outbursts
Tackling anxiety and stress effectively required a two-pronged approach. First, we need to teach the body that it doesn’t need to be hyper-aroused all the time, constantly scanning for threats. Then secondly, we focus on the throughts and attributional styles that are keeping worries and fears in place. By approaching stress and anxiety in this way you can achieve a rapid reduction of symptoms, and start enjoying life again.