Looking at Anxiety through a different lens
Updated: Apr 30
I’ve recently decided to look at Anxiety through a different lens.
But first, here’s a simplified breakdown of what happens when the Anxiety hits.
When we are in a stressful or (what we perceive as) a threatening situation, our brain sends us a warning single. This signal can’t detect if it’s a REAL threat, like getting hit by a bus, or just the idea of a threat, like being at risk of attack on a bus. All the brain knows is that it had a THOUGHT, “I’m at risk”.
So the body responds in exactly the same way: The thought of threat releases a hormone that triggers the release of Adrenalin. Adrenalin surges through our body, making us jittery, gives us heart palpitations, sweaty palms (BODILY RESPONSE). Adrenalin floods the prefrontal cortex. This is when we can’t think straight. When all sense goes. When we think we are having a heart attack, when we are about to die. As our prefrontal cortex is flooded, we cannot rationalise in the moment. We can’t see that we will be OK once the Adrenalin leaves our brain. Once our brain comes back online.
This feeling can be so debilitating for us humans. We can fear this feeling so much, that we can inadvertently activate it. If we THINK it, we can activate the anxiety cycle every time we see a bus or think about getting on it. And we start to believe that we simply can’t. That the Anxiety is preventing us from living a ‘normal’ life.
So this is where I’d like to flip our view of Anxiety on its head!
When Adrenalin surges through our body, it ACTIVATES our bodily responses in order to DEAL with what’s ahead of us. We THINK it disables us, but in fact its purpose is to propel us into action. To give us the juice and the hyper vigilance we need to get on that bus. To scan our surroundings and register that there is no immediate danger.
The trick is to break the cycle before it escalates. Before our rapid heart rate releases enough adrenalin to flood the thinking part of our brain (prefrontal cortex). To see the bus approach and to start breathing slower, to inhale short and exhale a long breath. To count how long it takes the bus to reach you. To keep the brain activated and distracted from the adrenalin release. I cannot stipulate how important the breathing is!!! And when the bus reaches you, to think of the anxiety as NOT anxiety, but as a body fuelled with adrenalin to propel you into action.
I invite you to start looking at Anxiety as just a confused state. Confused in the sense that often, the threat isn’t real, it’s perceived. To auto-correct in the moment and use it as a power force. To acknowledge it when it gets triggered and to consciously change the outcome.
Good luck, it’s possible!