As we emerge from lockdown, and a very difficult year, many people are experiencing anxiety, either for the first time, or in a more severe way than ever before. The following helps to explain what anxiety is, and why we can feel the way we do.
Anxiety and anger are our natural self-defense responses to situations that we perceive as threatening or dangerous. Anxiety is the ‘flight’ option of the ‘fight or flight’ response. As primitive people, we would have needed to run away from dangerous creatures, or remove ourselves from difficult circumstances such as swamps or fires. Anxiety keeps us on red alert, constantly looking for anything that could be a danger. In this state, our mind encourages us to be very negative – it effectively tells us that the worst will happen to deter us from getting into a hazardous situation. It also becomes obsessive, constantly reminding us of the perceived danger. All of this makes sense from a primitive, survival perspective. If we were faced with a tiger, or were picking our way through a jungle, we would be only too glad of this response!
Of course, in our modern lifestyles, we are not often faced with tigers, or survival situations in jungles. Today’s perceived ‘threats’ and ‘crises’ are bank statements, or exams, or social situations. The mind still reacts the same way, be it a hungry tiger or a gas bill. And we create anxiety by thinking negatively about these things. So, over time, these concepts (finances, exams, parties) become associated with feeling bad. The primitive part of the mind identifies these things as potential threats or dangers, and urges us to keep away, or flee. Hence, when the bank statement arrives, or we turn up at the party, our stomach is churning, we are sweating, our heart rate is elevated and we feel like we want to escape.
In primitive times, we would have run from a threat (or fought), and expended the excess energy and stress hormones. Our body would have then returned to normal function again (homeostasis). Today, we don’t tend to physically run away from our problems. We suppress our natural instinct to flee. Unfortunately, by doing so, we also fail to ‘burn off’ the powerful chemicals that are created when we become anxious (or angry). These chemicals then float around our systems, along with high blood sugar levels, prolonging the feelings of anxiety. Anxiety encourages us to think negatively, be hyper-vigilant (jumpy), obsessive and stick to habitual behaviours (however unhelpful!)
How can Hypnotherapy help?
With hypnotherapy, we can gently and effectively teach you to relax and move out of the stress response, activating the parasympathetic nervous system to return you to a state of balance in body and mind. We can also make sure you are focusing on the positives in life, and therefore thinking in a much more constructive and helpful way. With repetition and practice, positive thinking will become a habit as we work to literally rewire your brain with new, more helpful habits. With positive thinking, you create calm, sensible assessments, rather than emotional (stress) reactions. We also work to build up your confidence so that you know you are able to deal with whatever life has in store. If you would like to find out more about how hypnotherapy can help with anxiety, please visit http://www.tanglewoodpractice.co.uk, or ring me for a FREE initial consultation.