Throughout our lives we can all face stressful situations which lead us to produce chemicals to get us ready for fight, flight or freeze. In this state we produce lots of cortisol and adrenaline – which is great if you are starting a race ( i.e in a short burst) but not so great for getting on with everyday life when these two chemicals are constantly being produced. Anxiety can be caused by so many things, being late for an appointment, the illness of a loved one, lack of sleep, an argument, it can sometimes be the tiniest trigger.
The sensations from the hormones released are varied and mostly uncomfortable, feeling hot, clammy, nauseous, pounding heart even whistling in your ears as your muscles tense. This stress-response is designed for our own survival. Back in caveman days the chemicals released would have alerted you to the imminent danger of another tribe or wild animal which might have been about to attack, putting you on red alert to potential harm and hazard. Although we rarely face these dangers nowadays, challenging situations still set the stress hormones off and put us in our limbic system.
When we find ourselves in fight flight freeze mode for extended periods of time, it can be exhausting and overwhelming.
A major trigger for anxiety is uncertainty. When you are not 100% sure of something you are more likely to worry about it. For example, if you aren’t sure of a decision (like picking a topic for a school project or whether to apply to a certain university) or of how something is going to turn out (such as what’s going to happen at that party), you’re probably going to worry. By worrying, we are trying to figure out all the possible ways things could go wrong so we can be more certain of the outcome.
The problem is that almost everything in life is uncertain because no one can predict the future.
So, to be more comfortable with this uncertainty, we can get used to the sensation and when your system comes up with lots of ‘What ifs’ – come up with a ‘Then what’ plan – it is much easier for your brain to have a choice of pathways to follow. Being uncertain is normal for human beings – if we didn’t have this sensation – anxiety wouldn’t be a problem because you would already know how everything turns out.
If we can remember that emotion without reaction generally only lasts 90 seconds, we can use the time to breath – (many of my clients like to breath in slowly for a count of 4 out slowly for a count of 7 ) -this sends a clear message to your body that there is no need to be on high alert, it will give you time to make a proper assessment of a situation so you can respond in the most appropriate way.