What is Anxiety and what strategies can I use to get through it?

Stress and anxiety are natural, normal responses to situations. These responses are “built in”, since the dawn of time man as had to respond to evolving and changing threats. Life was definitely much simpler back in prehistoric times. All we needed was food and shelter. Our threats were dinosaurs and maybe other people and we learned, we developed a response, we either ran away or we fought.

Millions of years have allowed the human body to evolve to prepare to this fight or flight response. We have developed further possible responses to threat, now we have fight, flight or freeze – when our survival is threatened. There is a challenge response, giving us a focused not a fearful state. We produce higher levels of neurosteroid DHEA which motivates action and increases our confidence.

There is a tend and befriend response, higher levels of Oxytocin increases courage and strengthens pro-social behaviour. We can see this in our emergency services as then run towards the danger that the rest of us run away from.

But doctors and nurses, fireman, paramedics and policeman don’t get selected for the job because that they have and can demonstrate these evolved responses, they grew up like you and I, conditioned, told what is dangerous, what to avoid. As children we see adult responses to danger, we can hear their fears.

This suggest that they can change the way the see the threat, fireman are taught to deal with fires, armed with this knowledge and following their procedures and rules they are able to go into blazing buildings and deal with threat it represents.

The normal physical responses we may all experience are still present, their heart rate may increase, their senses sharpen, they may feel nauseas, shaky and sweaty. All perfectly normal responses to stress and anxiety.

Recognising the signs is key to realising we be suffering from anxiety; we do not immediately know what it is we are anxious about.

So, what might be the signs, Rapid heartbeat, insomnia, memory issues, overthinking, sweating, headaches, constant worrying, lack of patience, stomach issues, avoidance, seeking reassurance, procrastination and panic attacks.

Remember stress is about immediate threat, now that might be going in the boss’s office for an annual appraisal at work. Anxiety is the “worry” we have leading up to that, the constant need for loo all morning as the time for your appraisal approaches.

What is Anxiety and what strategies can I use to get through it?

The first thing is STOP, take a deep breath or two.

Then ask yourself,

1. What am I reacting to?
2. What is it that I think is going to happen here?
3. What’s the worse (and best) that could happen? What’s most likely to happen?
4. Am I getting things out of proportion?
5. How important is this really? How important will it be in 6 months’ time?
6. Am I over estimating the danger/threat/outcome?
7. Am I underestimating my ability to cope?
8. Am I mind-reading what others might be thinking?
9. Am I believing I can predict the future?
10. Is there another way of looking at this?
11. Is this fact or opinion?
12. What advice would I give someone else in this position?
13. Am I putting pressure on myself?
14. What would be the consequences of responding the way I usually do?
15. Is there another way of dealing with this? What is the most helpful and most effective action to take? (for me, for the situation and for others?)
16. Visualise yourself coping with the situation you feel anxious about.

Does this help with what is anxiety and what strategies can I use to get through it?

Remember the physical sensations are real but they are a stress, anxiety response triggered by your mind’s interpretation of events but these events that have not happened yet, they are simply the story you are creating and telling yourself.

So, it’s vital that we try to recognise and also acknowledge stress and anxiety. Consider how you perceive stress for example, do you see at as wholly negative?

But it’s about recognising and accepting what we are feeling, ask yourself what is the fear? Bring it into consciousness and give a name. What physical sensations are you feeling in your body as a result of the fear.

Notice what is happening. Breathe. Actually give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you are feeling. Try and go with that feeling, right inside it, that fear may turn into something else, grief or anger for example.

Offer yourself some kindness, some gentleness, some support, whatever you need right now. It is ok to feel whatever you feel.

Now just ground yourself by feeling your feet on the floor or notice an object in the room. Bring yourself back to the present moment.

I hope you found these simple techniques useful.

Take Care



© What is Anxiety and what strategies can I use to get through it?