Anxiety – 101
We all hear so much about anxiety. But what it is really?
Let’s start at the beginning and work our way through with more in depth posts at a later date.
In general, anxiety is:
- Persistent, excessive worries & fears
- Interferes with daily functioning
- Affects health & well being in negative ways
What are the names we call anxiety?
- Stress / Tension
- Worry / Fear
- Overwhelm / Frustration
- Doubt / Self-Doubt
Is anxiety bad and can it be eliminated?
In most cases anxiety isn’t actually a “bad” thing. It is at its most basic level, the body’s stress-response system and alerts us to danger. It is also quite useful as in some cases anxiety makes us more present & aware and may help improve our performance. When it becomes a problem, is when it never shuts off or stops. The results or effects of this “not shutting off”, affect your digestion, energy level, sex drive, suppresses immune response, can inhibit growth in children and overall interferes with functioning and the pleasure in life.
Because it is part of the body’s stress-response system, it is biological and cannot be shut off, nor should it be – we actually need this skill in our lives.
What remains however is the need to learn to cope and manage the triggers that solicit the anxiety response of fear or worry. We have also started to learn about Anxiety Binding Behaviours & Addictions which can lead to unhealthy ways of dealing with anxiety. But what we need to focus on is strategies & tools to help develop coping skills and manage anxiety while learning to feel better in all moments.
Part of doing this, is to also take into consideration different things that may have lead to the feelings of anxiety. They include but are not limited to genetics, environmental influences, learned behaviours and early childhood trauma, that has resulted in the brain becoming super sensitive to stressors.
So as you can see, anxiety isn’t something “good or bad”, it is in fact both and can work both for and against us. That makes dealing with it a bit tricky as similar to eating issues, it is something that is necessary for our survival and not something we can avoid entirely. Similar to an earlier post on changing our relationship with pain and its meaning, one of the tools we can use is to change our relationship with anxiety, by altering its meaning.
If we make one small change, to recognize anxiety as our body’s natural response to alert us to danger, perhaps we can accept this as a benefit of this part of our nervous system and stop fighting it. It is in part our efforts to try to “shut it down” that in fact causes it to become overwhelming. Similar to our fighting feeling our emotions that gives them such impact, anxiety can be considered in the same way. If we choose to embrace it in its natural safety provision that works FOR us instead of the negatives we have associated with it working AGAINST us, that may be a great first step.