Here’s What They Didn’t Tell You About Anxiety
This is why it’s so hard to feel better.
Anxiety is about more than feeling bad.
Anxiety is a physical state of emergency that causes a part of the brain to shut down. That’s why it’s impossible to “snap out of it” — even when there’s no logical reason for it.
Whether you suffer from anxiety, or you’re trying to understand someone who does, this piece of knowledge will give you some insight into how to deal with it more effectively.
The emotional feeling of anxiety is caused by the physical sensations created by stress chemicals in the blood stream. The brain and body are in a state of fight-freeze-flight, which is caused by a flood of stress chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol, pumping through your system.
One of the key effects of this emergency state is the shutting down of the prefrontal cortex of your brain. This is where you do your cognitive thinking.
Stress chemicals produced in a state of anxiety cause blood to be drained from the part of your brain responsible for problem-solving, strategizing, communicating effectively, comprehension, and other higher-level thinking processes.
This is why things seem so different when you’re in a state of anxiety, to the way the seem when you’re feeling good. The same circumstances can appear completely different.
What This Means:
Whenever you’re feeling anxiety, you literally can’t think straight because that part of your brain is offline.
The more you try to use that part of your brain, and can’t (because it’s offline), the more stress chemicals you’re pumping into your blood-stream… and the stronger the anxiety becomes. And, so you have a vicious cycle that can be very difficult, if not impossible, to break.
Remind yourself that what you’re feeling is simply the effects of stress chemicals in your system. Your mind will try to come up with reasons for the anxiety (that’s the conscious mind’s job — to make sense of things), but the real reason is — that’s what stress chemicals do.
Also remind yourself that while you’re in this state, the part of your brain responsible for cognitive thinking is offline. So, there’s no point in trying to use it.
In other words — there’s no point in trying to figure out the whys, whats, and hows of anything right now. You will come back to all of that later, once the stress chemicals have dissipated.
Do whatever it takes to reduce the stress chemicals in your blood stream. Below are a few ideas — keep doing different ones, until you find one that works for you.
The earlier you start to do this, the easier and faster it will be to change your chemical state. The longer you stay in the state of anxiety, the higher the level of stress chemicals in your system — and the more difficult it will be to take the action below… and the longer it will take to experience the results.
In other words: As soon as you notice the slightest feeling of anxiety, choose to immediately take action with one of the suggestions below — and don’t stop until the feeling of anxiety has gone.
It won’t necessarily be easy — you will feel resistance because it’s easier to feel bad than good — but choose to do it anyway.
Feeling good is about more than just feeling good. And you have more control over how you feel in the moment than you…medium.com
Again, the earlier you catch it, the easier and quicker it will be to change it!
Note: It may take something different each time. If one doesn’t work, do something else, but don’t stop until you no longer feel the sensations of the stress chemicals.
- Physical exercise — this is the most effective one, especially when the volume of stress chemicals in your system is already very high
- Watch comedy — you won’t feel like it, in fact, you’ll feel a strong resistance to it. Notice that, and then do it anyway! It’s not going to hurt, it takes no physical effort… and it can be very effective. Even watching a YouTube video of babies laughing, can start to change your chemical state
- Play a light, cheerful, simple game that you enjoy
- Listen to uplifting, fun music you love. In fact, comedy music would be even better — if you like Monty Python, I defy you to listen to some of their songs and maintain the level of stress chemicals in your system
- Dance. Again, you won’t feel like it, and you’ll feel strong resistance to it. But, do it anyway. Notice the resistance, and then do it anyway. This is what will free you from the trap of anxiety — even though it won’t seem that way in the moment!
- Watch uplifting TED talks, or listen to your favorite spiritual teachers
When your mind keeps bringing you back to problems, issues, negative thoughts, tell yourself you will think about those once you have your prefrontal cortex back online, and not before.
Do Whatever it Takes to bring the level of stress chemicals in your system, down. And only then, with your prefrontal cortex back online, will you be able to come up with solutions, problem-solve, communicate effectively, access your creativity, comprehend information, and come up with strategic options you could never have seen while that part of your brain was offline.
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