There seems to be a buzz word around over the last decade of mental health or stress and it’s the word anxiety. The spectrum of this is quite vast, so I will endeavour to simplify it. At the moment, statistics suggest anxiety is on the rise every year. The organisation anxiety.org.uk state that 3 million people in the UK struggle with anxiety and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (adaa.org) currently highlights anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the USA.
I wonder if you’ve experienced anxiety or heard friends, family and peers talk about it or maybe you’re living with someone who is experiencing it. It’s not a good place to be in nor can it be a good place to be with people who are actually living in that particular process of suffering. However have you ever wondered what anxiety actually is or if we are all experiencing the same kind of anxiety? Or have you ever pondered why we’re seemingly racing towards an anxiety-freefall-world? And most importantly, how it impacts ourselves and others, because it’s certainly not a sustainable way to live. It brings out shame, humiliation, guilt and anger along with sadness and regret all rational emotions unless we get stuck in them and this is partly what happens with anxiety, that we get stuck on that hamster wheel of fearing what is going to happen.
So first of all, what is anxiety?
We can all experience anxiety at some point or another. It’s a natural response when we perceive danger is present. However, the problem is actually when there isn’t any real danger and we keep in that loop of responding the same way all the time, as it our perceptions were real.
Like all animals, human beings have evolved ways to help protect ourselves from danger. When we feel under threat our bodies react by releasing certain hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones:
- make us feel more alert, so we can act faster
- make our hearts beat faster, quickly sending blood to where it’s needed most.
After we feel the threat has passed, our bodies release other hormones to help our muscles relax. This can sometimes cause us to shake as we are releasing the trauma. This is commonly called the ‘fight, flight or freeze, fawn response – it’s something that happens automatically, directly from our unconscious.
Perhaps you are familiar with the fight flight and freeze, however the fawn is also something to be aware off. Recently I was chatting with some students about how I had experienced a fawn moment while working abroad. Due to unforeseen circumstances of a disgruntled person, the police were involved and one of my colleagues was arrested, while others had to hide. I had travelled into the desert for a pre-planned break and on my return bus journey, to attend a court hearing, the bus was stopped by the military and they singled me out, taking my passport, which was promptly stuffed into the back pocket of one of the soldiers, who then asked me to find my suitcase from under the bus.
Wow-Wee! Thoughts began to spring into and race through my mind, such as the movie, Midnight Express; or “I’m too old to go to prison in a foreign country” (not that I have been to prison in any other country). My heart was pounding and I felt myself chattering inanely to this young soldier, who quite frankly did not speak much English. And furthermore, I ashamedly think I even started fluttering my eyelashes as him, when he was actually probably young enough to be my son.
To highlight the point, my reactions are part of the response system – I couldn’t run, nor freeze, nor fight, so my brain was alerted to some kind of strategy to get me out of danger. To cut a long story short, the soldier was actually treating me with respect, from his perspective, seeing me as a middle aged foreigner and asking me off the bus first for inspection. Once I was on the bus again, I started giggling like mad – a sort of shaking it out of the nervous system response. At the time I didn’t realise what was happening. Our mind is fabulous at creating what I call the Greek Tragedies of suspense, drama and doom and as our unconscious is looking to protect us, it will keep us in high alert looking for danger that is no longer there and in that response until we have resolved that incident, trauma, or conflict.
So how will you know if you’re living with anxiety? Some of the following are indicators:
- your fears or worries are out of proportion to the situation.
- you avoid situations that might cause you to feel anxious.
- your worries feel very distressing or are hard to control.
- you regularly experience symptoms of anxiety which could include panic attacks.
- you find it hard to go about your everyday life or do things you enjoy.
When we google anxiety, this act in itself can create symptoms, because the spectrum is so large and may seem overwhelming. Therefore, my aim in this article is to offer a summary of what anxiety disorders are. It’s also important to note that the following are actually all symptoms – they’re nothing to do with your personality. They’re caused by the fact that something in your life (including when you were in the womb) has created your unconscious to feel there is a threat or some kind of danger and therefore you need to be on high alert. Remember too, the word symptom does not mean you’re ill, broken or needing fixing. The word symptom is merely terminology and your mind is actually doing a sort of risk assessment in order to keep you safe, even though it feels the exact opposite.
- Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)– this means having regular or uncontrollable worries about many different things in your everyday life. Due to the fact there are many possible symptoms, this can be quite a broad diagnosis, meaning the challenges you experience with GAD could be quite different from another person’s experiences.
- Social anxietydisorder – this diagnosis means you experience extreme fear or anxiety triggered by social situations. It’s also known as social phobia panic disorder – this means having regular or frequent panic attacks without a clear cause or trigger. Experiencing panic disorder can mean you feel constantly afraid of having another panic attack, to the point the fear itself can trigger your panic attacks.
- Phobias– a phobia is an extreme fear or anxiety triggered by a particular situation (such as social situations) or a particular object.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – this is a diagnosis you may be given if you develop anxiety problems after going through something you found traumatic. PTSD can cause flashbacks or nightmares which can feel like you’re re-living all the fear and anxiety you experienced during the actual event.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)– you may be given this diagnosis if your anxiety problems involve having repetitive thoughts, behaviours or urges.
- Health anxiety– this means you experience obsessions and compulsions relating to illness, including researching symptoms or checking to see if you have them. It is related to OCD.
- Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)– this means you experience obsessions and compulsions relating to your physical appearance.
- Perinatal anxiety or perinatal OCD– some women develop anxiety problems during pregnancy or in the first year after giving birth.
Anxiety is not to be confused with depression, although in the midst of depression you can feel anxious. However, you cannot be depressed and anxious at the same time because you’re in what is termed the stress phase with anxiety and the restoration phase with depression.
- Nervy and scared
- Risk assessing everything for threats
- Body primed and tense
- Mind sharp and sensitive
- Senses seem ‘alive’ or ‘on fire’
- Body feels tense
- Unable to sleep because mind races/body won’t sleep
- Like you couldn’t care less
- All your senses numbed
- Listless, tired and weak
- Uninterested in family, love, friends, sex
- Like your mind is empty, hollow or gone
- Just want to sleep your life away
- Wanting to leave the planet
- Feeling you cannot even talk because you’re a burden to society
Remember, this article is focused only on the person and finding the person’s symptoms not the label itself.
Below is a graph of process of how life is in sympathetic (stress – fight/flight, fawn) or parasympathetic (restoration – rest and digest). We simply cannot be both at the same time.
From a META Consciousness perspective when we have more than one trauma, it does not matter whether real or perceived, the trauma lands first via our hearts, then the brain and whatever tissue is connected to the brain. We term this as a constellation as if we were to have a CT scan of the brain they begin creating a pattern like star constellations in the sky…which might be pretty to look at in the sky, however they are not pretty to live with.
You may notice that the orange is the stress phase of fight-flight-fawn and the purple is the restoration phase of rest and digest.
With regard to anxiety, something will have happened directly in front of you, causing the mind to consistently and constantly search out for danger and then perhaps imagine danger in the future which is not in fact a reality and will keep you in flight or fight to make sure you are safe. Another trauma or the same one, will include something which has happened to you that renders you completely powerless and inadequate and speechless in that moment. The body will then remember those traumas and keep you in that loop until you have resolved the traumas and conflicts.
If you were to have a CT scan, this is what your brain would show as the traumas hit your heart first, brain and a tissue connected to the brain almost instantaneously. This part of the brain is the cortex:
So how do we work with and rectify these symptoms? An approach which I am finding supportive with clients is with a combination of META Consciousness and Matrix Reimprinting.
A consultation with a Meta Consciousness Practitioner will guide you to find the root when you were first triggered into what ever symptom(s) you’re now feeling. This includes creating a bespoke, empowering healing plan, which incorporates supportive dietary choices, your environment (at work, at home, socially) and your emotions.
Within or following this consultation process, Matrix Reimprinting is also utilised. This is a gentle technique which invites you to rewrite those past traumas by tapping on your meridian points, and actually resolving the traumas of the past thus not only releasing the trauma, the most amazing part is that the unconscious will send signals to the mind, brain and cells that all is safe, inviting the client self empowerment and healing effectively without actually reliving the trauma itself.
Breathing is also important in our daily practice of truly engaging in life again and many scientific reports support its significance in positively strengthening our wellbeing. One of the most recent of these reports is: de Couck et al 20190 – How Breathing Can Help You Make Better Decisions. It outlines that two minutes of deep breathing with a longer exhalation, engages the vagus nerve, increases HRV and improves decision making. This process also moves us through the stress phase and into the calmness of rest and digest, so we can restore once more.
Please do add any comments or questions and would love to hear from you.