Have you ever stopped to think what anxiety is? The assumption is that we all know, but if you check a dictionary, there are lots of definitions… In their dictionary of psychological terms English & English (1958) state 6 separate meanings, one of the most obvious being… that anxiety is a learned and anticipatory response to an event in the future and it has three components:
- is rooted in your thought processes
- in behaviour
- in physiology.
Did you know that when you get anxious, or worried; your body changes.
- You become more nervous, anticipating something bad will happen
- your behaviour changes, you may become fidgety, or jumpy
- your breathing becomes more rapid and shallow
- your heart beat races you become a little flushed
- your metabolism will speed up a little
- you may get a rush of adrenaline – the primitive fight or flight hormone
- Actually when you think about it, a little anxiety is healthy, humans still have some primeval instincts even in this modern computer driven age and consumer society – but what if it becomes a problem?
The simple answer is: do something about it. What can you do?
Alternatively; there are lots of things you can do to help yourself.
- work out what you are anxious about. Is there a certain cause?
- brain dump…. Get a piece of paper and literally empty your mind…. Write down all the things that make you anxious and see if they have anything in common. Then ask yourself why they make you anxious? Is there a common cause? How do you react to anxiety? Once you have found the cause you can rationalise, are you justified in being anxious?
- If you are – simply reduce the likelihood of being exposed to the trigger.
- If not – you could ask yourself what you need to do to minimise the effects.
The effects usually include:-
Rapid breathing, increased heart beat and knots in the stomach
How do I minimise the effects?
Simply take three deep breaths, each to a count of three and exhale thoroughly, until the lungs are completely empty. The reason breathing deeply is so calming is that over breathing creates excess oxygen in the body, that causes, flushed skin, increased heart beat, and increased adrenaline. Sounds simple…. For some people it is, for many others it really isn’t.
A very sad sign of the times is that a whole set of industries (mine included) have been created to address anxiety. The leisure industry has been created in response to parental fear of their children being abducted, and murdered or molested, to the point that town dwellers are reluctant to let their little ones play outside. For the lucky children that get to play out, they may get skin cancer because of the sun… so rather than being sensible and stay out of the sun, simply taking a siesta, or training them to play in the shade we spend a fortune on products that protect the skin…. (another industry built on fear) so we can stay out in the sun for longer… Grannies in hot countries used olive oil, produced from their own trees to protect the skin and Aloe Vera from their gardens to sooth burns, grazes and cuts. What do we do now?
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