by Janine Taylor
Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress (Holland, 2018). In today’s world, stress is unavoidable. Therefore, everyone experiences anxiety, it’s just the degree of anxiety that differs from person to person. This differential is based on numerous factors ranging from varied environmental stressors, support systems, or lack thereof, health factors, neurology and resilience levels.
Neurologically, a brain will transmit distress signals with varying intensities. Some brains will send severe distress signals when they feel unsafe, whereas others will send mild distress signals. Because of these differentials, some individuals may suffer more from intense bouts of anxiety than others. Learning to become more self aware of your body and identifying which type of environmental stressors burden your body, will help you to identify your anxiety triggers and work with them rather than work against them. Here are 5 practical tools to help your body comfort your brain:
1) Notice the first area in your body that your brain warns when it feels unsafe, eg tight chest, difficulty breathing, perspiration or an increase in heart rate. Embrace this as your ‘red light’ for action.
2) Stop what you are doing and focus on getting air so that your body can receive more oxygen. Excuse yourself from wherever you are. Go outside and take slow deep breaths and count to ten. Then re-evaluate and keep repeating until the symptoms are less intense.
3) Always keep water with you. Preferably cold water. As your brain feels unsafe, it sends distress signals to your body which increases your body’s basal temperature (Leonard, 2018). Cold water will assist in hydrating the body and cooling it down so that it feels less distressed and it will be less clammy.
4) Identify what is happening in your environment that is making you feel unsafe. This will be a situation that feels out of control. Take active steps to get control by answering the following 4 questions below:
4.1 What am I feeling? (identify feeling)
4.2 Why am I feeling this way? (what is the reason? What happened?
4.3 What do I need? (what do you need in order to feel better/safer?)
4.4 How can I satisfy this need? (what do you need to actively do to fix this situation?)
5) Action step 4.4 and then encourage your brain that it is ok and that you are safe. After all, your subconscious brain is the ‘Child’ signalling distress and it needs your conscious part of your brain to be the ‘Parent’ to reassure it that all is ok. Once reassured, all will be ok and your brain will reduce its distress signals.
If your symptoms persist and the above do not alleviate it, then it is time to seek professional help in order to learn the origins of your anxiety as well as how to access helpful tools. You can start by talking to your local GP or a psychologist.
So from now on, don’t fight your anxiety, work with it and it will work with you. After all, its just a part of your mind that needs gentle and calm reassurance and in today’s world, don’t we all!