What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a type of fear. There are different types and degrees of fear, some fears are justified and even helpful to protect us when there is a real threat or potential danger. Anxiety however, is a fear of things that haven’t actually happened and is brought on by the thoughts we create in our heads. Our minds are so powerful that we can make ourselves feel anything – positive or negative – just by our thoughts. Our thoughts create our feelings, our feelings create our actions and our reactions.
When we think anxious thoughts, we create anxious feelings, which send a signal to our subconscious minds that we are in danger, and certain physical reactions are produced. This is known as the ‘Fight or Flight Syndrome’, a survival mechanism, which goes back to caveman times, when the caveman met a sabre tooth tiger and he had to either fight for his life, or run for his life.
When the Fight or Flight Syndrome occurs, the body reacts by releasing chemicals including adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol into the bloodstream. The respiratory rate increases and blood is shunted away from the brain and stomach and into the muscles and limbs. For the caveman, this was a good thing as it helped him to either run or fight.
Fortunately, these days there aren’t any sabre tooth tigers roaming around, but this same response is automatically produced whenever we feel a sense of threat or danger. Even when there is no real danger involved in a situation, you may subconsciously feel a sense of fear and anxiety about the ‘threat’ of potential disappointment, embarrassment, failure etc., and so enter a heightened state of ‘Fight or Flight’.
While in this state it’s impossible to feel calm and relaxed or to think straight, so it’s likely that your mind will go blank, you will be unable to think clearly, and your body will become tense, possibly begin to shake, and you will experience uncomfortable physical sensations which will feel out of your control.
Remember, these physical feelings are a direct response to your emotional feelings, which are produced by the thoughts in your head, so if you can learn to take control of your thoughts, you can take control of your body, your actions, your reactions, and so just about any aspect of your life.
The Fight or Flight reaction can affect you when taking any sort of test, in any situation where you are required to perform, or whenever you feel out your comfort zone, or out of control. School, college or university, or business exams, medical or dental examinations and treatments, sports competitions or performances, giving a presentation or a speech, going to a big party or event, having to talk to people you’ve not met before, people you feel are superior to you in some way, all can produce a similar response for many people.
Whenever you become aware that you are feeling anxious, and are experiencing those associated ‘Fight or Flight’ physical sensations, you can now recognise them for what they are and then use that rush of adrenalin in a positive way to enable yourself to take control of your thoughts, your feelings and the situation.
If you are still struggling to control your anxiety, I would advise you to look into EFT, or Emotional Freedom Technique, otherwise known as Tapping. This technique can help you to quickly let go of any negative feelings and begin to feel calm, relaxed and in control. Look out for more information about EFT in my blog post next week!