For years I have had Anxiety type feelings.
Sometimes I would just be sitting there staring at the wall, not moving, completly frozen in place while my mind raced.
Like most people I would think this is normal and just keep going. Ignore what I didn’t understand. So what changed for me to be able to take steps towards improving myself? I read, listened and watched other people explain it. So here is how I now understand Anxiety and how I am taking steps daily to understand this emotion.
Firstly, I want to say that this is not a emotion you can conquer. What you read can create some further clarity in to what is happening, why it happens and what you can do to regulate these feelings.
The Amygdala is a brain region that plays a major role in the processing emotions like Anxiety and Fear. It has played a vital role in the success of humans. The reason why is because the Amygdala is developed through experiences. To have a healthy fear of something that could harm us like a wild animal is vital in our survival. The Amygdala, without our concious awareness can activate our “Fight Flight Freeze” Sympathetic Nervous System. This straight away can
- ↑ Adrenaline
- ↑ Cortisol
- ↑BP and muscle activation (readiness)
So before you know it you are ready to run away from that big grizzly bear, or maybe you freeze and you’re lunch! Let’s hope you never have to know…
What we also know is it is built off experiences. So if you were ‘headbutt’ by a cow when you were younger and it scared the shit out of you? Your Amygdala would be triggered in the future if your saw, smelt or heard a cow. But it does’nt mean it has to always be this way.
Left and Right Side Cortex
Here is how my brain has operated most of my adult life. My brain has an incredible gift of starting narratives that can be negative in outcome, or create a ‘situation’ or ‘scene’ in my mind which I am confronting. It’s important to note that I am doing this while driving, sitting at my desk or right when I am trying to sleep.
Does this ever happen to you??
This has actually been a really handy tool in human survival also. If you were to camp next to a running river, then day after a heavy rain downfall your brain may start a narrative that says “this water may rise and wash away our campsite, even kill us”. So this then activated the Amygdala region to make your respond to this potential threat.
Pretty handy, RIGHT!?
But say you are laying in bed and your brain start thinking about the big meeting you have the following day, about how important it is and everyone will be watching. Then your brain starts creating a scene where half way through your speech you fart! Like a fart that everyone knows where it came from…the HORROR! Then guess what? While you’re laying there in bed your brain gets triggered and all of a sudden you are ready to run away from that bear you are facing. Like a bear attacking you, it is also a stressful/fearful situation.
Your brain cannot distinguish between what may or may not be happening. It is responding to a stimulus. And if you create a narrative in your head enough it can truly think it is happening.
But good news! You have the power to regulate both types, and here’s how.
This needs to be regulated through your BREATH. Deep and mindful breathing will active you Parasympathetic Nervous System, essentially calming down all these responses that cause ‘fight, flight or freeze’.
- Coping thoughts – Acknowledge the thoughts,
- Find your bubble – Wherever in the workd is your safe and calm space. Go there in your mind.
- Change the Channel – flip the station in your head from anxiety channel to puppy channel.
- Breathing / Mindful exercises
Try this FREE 5min Body Scan ⇓⇓⇓⇓
5 min Audio Body Scan
This is a journey…
Understand that this is a lifelong journey to improved mental fitness. Anxiety is an important response system to potential threat or danger. But if, like me, you create stories and narratives in your head which causes Anxiety type feelings, then this is something you can start work on today!