The word anxiety has been used since the 1500’s and comes from the Latin word anxius, which means ‘worry of an unknown event’. I have highlighted this definition as many people are unaware that anxiety symptoms are more commonly connected with concerns aboutwhat is imagined and anticipated rather than anything immediately real and occuring in the present moment.
Anxiety is also often used interchangeably with fear to describe a certain state or feelings, however anxiety and fear are different. Fear is the physical response to an identifiable external, or internal (such as a real medically diagnosed condition) threat. It is an instinctual life-preserving response to danger. Anxiety is not a response to immediate danger. It is mostly associated with memories of fear, anticipation of fear, anticipation of anxiety itself (known as anticipatory anxiety), early childhood conditioning, and perhaps a biological predisposition to being anxious.
Anxiety is felt as an uncomfortable nervous system stress response that can range from healthy to very unhelpful, and with mild to more chroniccognitive, emotional, behavioural, energetic and physiologically distressing symptoms.
Everyone experiences anxiety at some time or another. It’s natural given that we live with such uncertainties and unpredictability at times. The feelings come and pass through usually without too much problem. And of course there is what we may refer to as ‘healthy anxiety’. Healthy anxiety is a body-mind stress response that we experience when it is necessary for us to be concerned about something that is actually happening in our lives. Anxiety in this regard is our innate body’s way of letting us know that something needs our attention and possibly action. Sometimes it is even a way of calling us back to our deeper authentic self.
Anxiety becomes a problem when there is nothing happening in our immediate environment or internally within us in the Here & Now that warrants an anxious response. It also becomes problematic when the symptoms of anxiety persist over a prolonged period of time.
Anxietyoften involves a negative and catastrophic looping dialogue in our mind that becomes preoccupied with safety and interpreting life in the present moment as being more dangerous than it actually is.It is a state that is preoccupied with either the future or the past, seldom about the actually of the present moment of the Here & Now.
Anxiety is maintained by the part of our brains that processes fear. This part of the brain cannot tell whether fear originates from an actual immediate real life physical threat or from imaginary thoughts and images of a frightening or overwhelming situation. Regardless the body-mind automatically and unconsciously prepares itself to addressed the real or imaginary threat in the same way by producing survival responses of flight, fight, freeze, dissociation, or attachment cry.
These survival responsesinvolve the release of chemicals and hormones that create the anxietystate. Once these chemicals and hormones are in the blood stream they take a little time to be processed through even when we may have realized that it is with our imagination that we have been frightening ourselves and arousing an anxious state.
Pathways to Re-balancing the Nervous System and Healing from Anxiety
There is a significant amount that you can do to assist in your recovery from anxiety. However sometimes when the nervous system is highly and chronically active,medication prescribed by a qualified doctor may be necessary to assist with reducing chronic distress and anguish. Specific phobias, obsessive compulsive, and post traumatic stress experiences usually require the assistance of a qualified professional in addition to the self help strategies outlined below.
Please keep in mind that if you have tried and persisted with many of the following with little relief from the anxiety this does not mean that you have failed. It may just be that you need some professional counselling support to assist further, or it may be purely an indication of how your nervous system is unconsciously and automatically operating on such a high alert level and thereby needing some companion medication support.
If you have been suffering from anxiety for some time and the symptoms are persisting consider counselling as an opportunity to identify the precise and main causes to your anxiety. Counselling also offers an opportunity to refine and practice the skills that can reduce and alleviate your symptoms.
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Healthy anxiety is a body-mind stress response that we experience when it is necessary for us to be concerned about something that is actually happening in our lives. Anxiety in this regard is our innate body’s way of letting us know that something needs our attention and possibly action.
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