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Anxiety: What is it Really?

Last Updated Sep 02, 2020

People often ask me what is anxiety and how do I make it go away!  Anxiety is an awful, physically and mentally uncomfortable phenomenon that is easily explained as "fear of the future".  If you think about the last time you felt anxious or worried about something it will always be something you are concerned about happening at a later stage.

It's normal to think about things in the future and sometimes worry as you can never be certain of what is going to happen, there's an element of faith that life will work out the way you want it.

So when that worry goes too far it ends up being anxiety, the difference being that worry is something short lived that you can stop and anxiety is often something you can't.  It starts as a little niggle but then it grows and often what people do is when they are feeling anxious is they start thinking of lots of other situations that also make them anxious as well so they go down a big anxiety spiral until they are so frazzled that they are a heap on the floor needing a wine or chocolate to feel better.

What happens when people get anxious is the nervous system becomes activated so instead of being relaxed and having your body relaxed, the nervous system is reacting like something bad is happening and so it is on high alert.  Then not only do you feel mentally uncomfortable but you are also facing hormone release like adrenalin and cortisol that leave you feeling very depleted and exhausted after.

Anxiety can become a habit and you can see that especially when you realise that people will think of anxiety evoking things when they are anxious!  It is also very ungrounding and when someone gets anxious they leave their body and end up with all their energy in their head (and also often headaches or neck aches as well).  The head is all about fear, its job is to come up with fearful scenarios of what might happen, not say let's just trust in our self that it will all be ok!

When you are in your head you've lost the ability to know that you'll be ok, that last time you were fine and the time before that and even if something bad did happen, I'm sure you'd pull through.  To the head everything ends up feeling like life or death.

So what to do when you feel anxious?  First you need to ask yourself, what am I so worried about.  It can also help to write down each time you feel anxious so you can see what the common thread is in your anxiety as it will most likely be triggered by the same sort of things.  Then the next thing to do is take at least 5 deep belly breaths and on each breath feeling the stress and tension going down your legs and out your feet.  The more of these breaths you do the better as they are bringing you back into present time (for more on present time see my article "The Present Moment").

The more time you spend in present time, the less anxious you will be.  And the next time you get anxious you know instantly that you have left the present moment.  So do your breathing, come back to present time and start using your energy resources to get to the bottom of what you are worrying about.

That's when you find your anxiety lessens and happens less often and as a result you feel more empowered and present in the moment to live life to the fullest.

Originally published on Oct 24, 2011

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Wellness inspiration of the week

People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills… There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind… So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself. — MARCUS AURELIUS