We all know it, feel it, experience it, and in most instances, want it to pass sooner rather than later.
Anxiety can be helpful if you’re going on a date, preparing for a speech or presentation, a performance, an exam or some other kind of important task or event.
Yet, at other times, for some people, it can feel downright intrusive, frustrating and even debilitating.
Anxiety can prevent you from enjoying the moment, connecting with others, and thinking clearly.
For many, anxiety can become problematic.
It can feel exaggerated, out of place, unnecessary, unwelcome and completely inappropriate at times (like when you’re lying in bed trying hard to get to sleep, and there’s no physical threat around you – but you feel as though there is – like something really bad is about to happen, and you’re not sure how you’ll cope).
Anxiety can be isolating, making you feel lonely, and in some cases, can lead to feelings of depression.
Your heart may race, you may lose your appetite, feel nauseas, your thoughts may feel out-of-control or irrational, you may be trembling, or feel as though you will suffocate or choke on your breath if it gets really bad.
Your stress response is high; adrenalin and cortisol are pumping through your body.
What has triggered this chain of events running amok with your mind and body?
What has sparked the fear-response part of your brain (known as the Amygdala), to switch your anxiety on, again?
Because anxiety breeds anxiety, it can be tricky understanding the ‘why’ sometimes, when you’re caught in the thick of it. You may just know how terrible you feel, and how quickly you want it to all pass, and leave you feeling peaceful, relaxed and ‘light’ once again.
Some people talk about how anxiety just kicks in suddenly, for no apparent reason. And the cycle for them starts – again.
But there’s likely a trigger – albeit a subconscious one in some instances.
Because our conscious thoughts make up only a small fraction of all of the thoughts in our mind, sometimes we need to dig a little deeper, or pay closer attention to what is happening in our lives; in our relationships, our work, our future plans, our finances, our health.
The average person has around 60,000 thoughts each and every day (and many of them are the same thoughts that were had the day prior).
Just like you often dream when you’re asleep, but have no memory or knowledge of your dreams’ content, the same can be said about your subconscious thoughts. Just because you’re unaware of these thoughts, doesn’t mean they don’t exist or they didn’t happen.
Subconscious thoughts have much power over your nervous system, and the way your physiology responds. Over time, your thoughts not only affect your feelings, they can affect your health, and your immune system too (there’s a whole science behind this, known as psychoneuroimmunology).
Every thought you have, has a neuro-chemical response in your brain and body, which affects the way you feel.
Learning how to change your relationship with your thoughts can be a very powerful way of reducing anxiety.
Understanding your triggers, and eliminating them if you can, or reducing the impact they have on you, are ways that you can change the way you feel, and change your relationship to anxiety.
We all have anxiety – so we can never get rid of it completely. It serves a helpful purpose when we are truly under threat in some way.
But, what you can do, is understand your anxiety better. Understand your triggers, and make changes that will see it dissipate, and become less problematic, less invasive, less consuming… re-set your anxiety to a more appropriate level, where it can serve it’s purpose in a more functional way.
I help many women, around the world, to better understand and manage their anxiety, so they can live happier lives. I’d love to support you too, if anxiety is causing you any level of worry or distress.