Help With Anxiety
Anxiety is a feeling that something bad is going to happen, and that when it does the consequences will be overwhelming and impossible to cope with. Therefore, regardless of what your logical and rational mind tells you, emotionally it poses a genuine threat, so if you are struggling with anxiety it is important you get help.
The feelings, both emotional and physical, which accompany anxiety are often so powerful that you start to fear the anxiety itself. You develop anxiety about your anxiety, thus creating a miserable self perpetuating problem. But you don’t need to suffer.
Consider anxiety as a station on a journey from stress to phobia. If a stress is not dealt with it can grow into an anxiety at which point our emotional brain is telling us to avoid whatever it is that makes us stressed. If we listen to it and do avoid it (for example refusing to board an airplane) we create a phobia and the whole problem becomes more entrenched and seems to hold onto us all the more tightly.
It's important to realise that we are creating our anxiety and therefore we can let go of it too, even if that seems like an unlikely possibility. Whatver it feels like, you are actually in control of your anxiety.
So why do we experience anxiety?
There can be any number of reasons we experience anxiety or panic, which is why it’s useful to get some professional help in sorting it out. Frequently our anxiety can be rooted in something which happened or was learned earlier in life, and it is our mind attempting to protect us, but doing so in a dysfunctional and ultimately damaging way.
Our mind is so powerful that, given the opportunity, we are able to create very detailed and realistic imaginings of future events to the extent that we feel they are real, even though they haven't happened. The impact on our mental and physical wellbeing can be significant and life limiting, varying from a deep sense of dread and distraction to physical symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, nausea and numerous others.
If anxiety is stopping you from functioning normally you need to take action to fix it. You learned to be anxious and you can unlearn it.
How Anxiety Gets A Hold
You are driving along a road one day and someone pulls out in front of you. There is no possibility of you swerving out of the way so you are involved in a collision. At that moment you notice a number of schoolchildren walking on the pavement who witness the crash. You are shaken but there is not too much damage to the car and you are physically unharmed, as is the other driver.
A month or so later you notice feelings of anxiety about driving and you find that rather than taking the car on a journey you decide to walk or maybe not go at all. When you think about driving the car you begin to feel a little "panicky" and you notice a shortness of breath and nausea. This worsens to the extent that you don't even want to get in someone else's car, let alone your own.
A few months later and your life has changed significantly. Perhaps you go out less, have lost contact with some of your friends and spend less time on pastimes that you used to enjoy.
It might seem like a fanciful story but this is a familiar picture of how an anxiety develops. Something as minor as a traffic accident where nobody was hurt can alert the mind to "what might have been". Perhaps a significant injury, or a swerve and a collision with those children walking home from school. The subconscious suggests that the best protection might be to avoid the roads altogether, and before you know it you have a full blown anxiety bordering on a phobia which will have serious impact on your ability to lead a healthy and normal life.
For some people anxiety almost seems to be a part of who they are, so long have they battled with it. There will be reasons that you struggle to find a sense of certainty and safety. Perhaps you learned early in life that the world is a less reliable and more frightening place than you would have wanted.
It is not unusual for people to think of themselves as anxious. "Oh I've always been an anxious person" I will hear someone say quite regularly. It's important for you to understand that it is not that you are anxious, as if it were just like the colour of your eyes. Rather you are experiencing anxiety and, most importantly, you don't have to struggle with it forever.