Anxiety: What is it?

Anxiety: What is it?

Anxiety: What is it?

31 Aug 2019

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending, it turned into a butterfly” – Proverb.

Heart racing, sweating, choking smothering type sensation, feeling like you might die? Sound familiar? We will all experience anxiety at some time. Anxiety is a normal emotional response. It is a fear response. Anxiety is just a message to our brains saying “DANGER, DANGER, DANGER”, then our body will kick into what we call the ‘flight or fight’ response.

Fight or flight is simply when our body prepares to fight whatever the danger is, or if it’s too big, get prepared to flee (so run). Fight or flight is very physical, which is why many people can relate to these common physical symptoms, however not everyone who struggles with anxiety will even realise that they experience it.

Sometimes our brain will convince us we are in danger, when we aren’t. It is these incidences of anxiety that we need to learn how to manage more effectively. Anxiety is very common and approximately one in five people we struggle with anxiety at some point in their lives.

Physical Symptoms of Fight or Flight

Some common physical symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Short shallow breaths which lead to light headedness, dizziness, and choking smothering type feelings.
  • Our digestive system also shuts down, which leads to feelings of heavy stomach, nausea, butterflies in the stomach, vomiting, and dry mouth.
  • Heart racing, tightness or pain in the chest.
  • Sweating
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Pins and needles in our hands or feet, or a change of sensation in our skin
  • Tense muscles leading to headaches and shoulder and neck discomfort

There is a lot happening in our bodies when we experience fight or flight response, so it’s not unusual that we might be left feeling tired and exhausted. The good news is this is exactly what our bodies are designed to do. Bad news, you are an over achiever, you are too good at it. You are doing it when you don’t need to.

The good news today is that it isn’t very often that we are actually faced with physical danger. It does happen from time to time, but most of the time our danger is psychological or social. For example: will I be late for my appointment? Will they be upset with me? The problem is that the brain cannot differentiate between physical and social or psychological danger, so it prepares for a physical fight, even when there is no fight to be had. This is what causes us trouble.

Thinking Changes

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it”. – Mary Engelbreit

We also experience thinking change when we get anxious. Our brain actually tricks us. It says “hey, the worst possible thing that could happen will happen, (and the second part..) and you will never be able to cope with it”. When in actual fact the chances of the worst possible thing happening is actually quite small, and even if it did happen we would still be able to cope (it’s not like we get any choice!).

Behavioural Change

We also have a behavioural change when we get anxious. The number one behaviour change for anxiety is avoidance. If something makes me feel uncomfortable, I’m just not going to do it. The problem with this is that the more we avoid, the stronger our anxiety gets. Avoidance strengthens our false beliefs that something terrible is going to happen. So although we get instant relief it is short lived and actually increases our anxiety over time. So it is really important to ‘nip it in the bud’ as early as possible, or anxiety can get out of hand very quickly.

What can we do about anxiety?

Anxiety is actually very easy to shut down, once you know how (ha ha, like everything). Keep an eye out for my next blog where I’ll teach you how to shut anxiety down quickly and calm yourself.

“Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact”. – William James.

Written by:

Judy Travis | The Grey Space Organisation Ltd. have expressed permission by Judy Travis to repost this blog originally posted on https://rockypsych.com.au/anxiety-what-is-it/ on august 15th 2017 | ©thegreyspaceorganisationlimited2019

Well anxiety, I guess it’s me and you drowning to Death.

Well anxiety, I guess it’s me and you drowning to Death.

Well anxiety, I guess it’s me and you drowning to Death.

5 Mar 2019

What a day in amazing NQ the Blue sky the perfect water as calm as a millpond and I’m out fishing on the reef! Shooting along in a family friends 7.1 cyclone with its big ass Honda outboard pushing along to our next spot. For those of you who don’t know cyclones boats are used for racing they are a brilliant and extremely safe boat……anyway. Beautiful day blah blah…..that’s right…..I have done this a hundred times, been on long line fishing boats, grew up on the water with my old man, jumped waves breaking over Mooloolaba port. (Uncle Greg If your reading this yes the Queenslander, the boat you got from dad used to jump completely out of the water when I was 17 😂).

We had just seen a striped marlin come up and broadside underneath the boat and look at us and swim away and this thing was bigger than the boat one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my life. Snapped my new rod on a 80 or 90cm black king fish and still got him in the boat. Perfect day apart from the rod snapping. We start to head home…….and I’m sitting in the back of the boat watching my old man and his mate Squid both with 40+ years experience navigate home. And my mind starts to race. I hear a strange noise “was that a cracking sound?” No one else noticed it it’s not a problem.
My hearts now racing to match my mind, my skins clammy but I’m burning up from the rush of blood, my hearts pumping so hard it hurts what’s happening here….”the boats going to break and to pieces and the outboards going to fall off we are all going to drown!!!” My mind shoots me into a spin “I’m going to die here, we are all going to die! Why can’t anyone else see this is about to happen?”

I close my eyes because I can’t actually talk and wait for the inevitable…….that never came. At some point I think my dad may have noticed and said it’s ok mate the boats fine but that didn’t help a bit.

Huh. That was ummm interesting completely irrational and I knew it but I couldn’t stop that thought I though for sure that it was the end and I was gonna drown.

Anxiety and panic attacks are fucked, your mind literally can stop you in your tracks and make your body do some weird shit. More then once I’ve been hospitalised because my panic attacks where so bad I thought I was having a heart attack…..nope just my my anxiety saying “hi, how can I fuck with you today?”…..it can be debilitating and embarrassing, ever seen a big tattooed up man curled up like a little bitch cos his scared of a voice in his head or a feeling he has? Would Look pretty stupid huh. Well that’s been me more a few times to.

So what is anxiety, besides being shitty. Well the definition for it is “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome”.
Cool story google!

Anxiety is cold sweats, clammy skin, pains or tightness in the chest, I dead set thought I was having a heart attack more then once. It’s the fear of something so unrealistic happening and you believing it is going to happen but at the same time you know it’s unrealistic and everyone thinks your a nut bag for thinking it……

Why does it happen? A hundred doctors will give you a hundred answers and the truth is the reason is different for all of us, some situation or event or maybe a mental illness like in my Case. The “Why?” is something for you and your psychologist to figure out.

How do we cope or get through an anxiety attack? Some people do breathing exercises, some use calming music Personally I like mindfulness a form of meditation in which you focus on the things around you. With closed eyes I start with my toes and work my way up focusing on the feelings of things on my skin and the sounds around me I’m not trained in mindfulness nor am I a “therapist” so I’m going to put some links here so you can have a little look for yourself.

https://www.mindful.org/what-is-mindfulness/
https://www.sane.org/mental-health-and-illness/facts-and-guides/mindfulness
https://au.reachout.com/articles/how-to-practise-mindfulness

Obviously this doesn’t work every time and attacks can be so bad you need to be hospitalised. The best way to combat this is to get your professional support network in order. A good GP for referrals, A psychologist, remember not all psychologist will be right for you never feel trapped into staying with the same one try again the perfect one is out there for you! And a psychiatrist if you have a diagnosed mental illness. This professional support network can help find the root cause for your anxiety and give you the tools to cope and manage your anxiety so you can live a normal life.
Oh one more thing

FUCK YOU ANXIETY!

Written by:

Ben Russoniello | ©benrussoniello 2019

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