Updated: Feb 14, 2020
45% of people will experience a Mental Health condition in their lifetime
In any one year – over 2 million people have anxiety – in Australia!
1 in 3 women experience anxiety
1 in 8 men experience anxiety
Believe it or not, but Anxiety is your friend. It is a completely normal and natural emotional state. Anxiety is when the brain perceives some sort of danger and pre-pares your body and mind to either fight, flight or freeze. Anxiety is your protector. It is the reason your foot slams on the breaks before you realise what is happening or the reason you suddenly have super human abilities when your child is in danger.
So, if anxiety is my friend, why does it feel so terrifying? Your brain is 200 million years old. It often gets confused as to what is a ‘real threat’ and what is a ‘perceived threat’. Are you telling me that my body and brain will act the exact same if I had a live tiger in front of me VS me thinking about a tiger? Yes, that is exactly right!
Your brain is designed to SURVIVE not THRIVE, so it is on the lookout 24/7 for danger.
For your brain to THRIVE, you must become aware of two types of anxiety and how to manage each.
THOUGHT ANXIETY & FEELING ANXIETY
Feeling anxiety is when you get all those lovely physical and physiological feelings. You know, the heart about to jump out of your chest? The sweaty or shaky hands, the shallow breathing, oh and lets not forget the knot in your stomach. And no, its not that creamy carbonara you had last night, although your body will be shutting down everything, including your digestive system. So needing to go to the bathroom when nervous, is a completely normal physiological reaction. Here is why each of these symptoms are your friends and nothing to be afraid of.
Your heart is beating fast to pump blood around the body so you can run away from the threat. You are shaking because you have adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormones running through your body to get you ready to fight. You are sweating so your body can cool itself down Finally, your body is shutting everything down, including your digestion, because it needs all the energy to fight whatever is in front of you.
Often, feeling anxiety can trigger ‘Thought Anxiety’
This is why you hear your brain often thinking worst case scenario; “I had a missed call from my boss, I am getting fired” “That person smiled at me in the meeting because I said something stupid” “He is late for my date so he is not interested, why did I even come”
Strategies how to manage You need to control feeling anxiety first. When feeling anxiety is activated, your frontal lobe – the part of your brain involved with judgement and decision making shuts off. Have you ever asked yourself why you can’t think straight when you are in an anxious state? You are not losing the plot, your bodily responses shut off your frontal lobe to deal with the stressor, remember.
Use the following to manage your physical anxiety:
Diaphramatic Breathing (deep belly breathing)
Once you are able to think clearly, then you need to manage thoughts using the following steps below:
Write down your thoughts and allow yourself to challenge them!
Is this effective, how likely is it to happen?
So, what if it happens?
What can I think instead?
Re-create those thoughts
Written by Stephanie Georgiou