Identifying and Coping with Acute Anxiety
May 28, 2020
Anxiety is a valuable tool in the survival of a species. It encourages you to stay alert and wary when danger might be afoot and sharpens your senses to detect threats. The problem, however, is that in our modern human existence true physical threats are very rare and sometimes our bodies get confused about what things actually pose a threat. When anxiety is a near-constant companion several of our biological systems start to go haywire, which in turn may increase the anxiety thus beginning the cycle over again.
All is not lost!
You have one incredible weapon in your arsenal to combat both the anxiety and the physiological reactions to it, halting the cycle—yourself. The body takes its cues from the mind, and the mind is something you can control with the right tools. Here is a small exercise to help identify and reduce acute anxiety:
First, identify all the dangers around you and don't be afraid to include items that may sound ridiculous. Are you worried that someone may break in to your home? That someone will yell at you? That a plane my fall out of the sky onto the building you're in? Make a mental list, or even write them down.
Next, objectively look at your surroundings. Look at your list and go through each item to determine if that situation is currently happening. Are all the doors and windows locked? Is anyone currently yelling at you, or are they just enjoying the party? Is a plane currently crashing anywhere near you?
If your list of things to be worried about includes, say, "I'm worried about being rear-ended in traffic" and you are currently sitting in traffic with an aggressive driver behind you, anxiety is doing its job (although it may be confused about the severity of the problem!).
If your list of things that you are worried about and things currently happening do not match, then you are safe! Tell yourself, "I am safe." and breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, and breathe out for 4 seconds, repeating the cycle for a minute. Deep and even breathing is the best way to tell your body you are safe, and can help to ramp down your body's response to anxiety and break the cycle.
If you are feeling anxious and want to make a change, contact us to start the journey to a happier you and get more tools to help deal with anxiety.