What is Anxiety?
Most of us think of anxiety as an emotional state, but it is really a physical or somatic reaction to perceived threat. The experience of anxiety begins with an experience in our bodies – our hearts beat faster, our breathing becomes shallow, our muscles tighten, our palms sweat. The body sounds an alarm that something is terribly wrong and our mind quickly jumps in, scanning the internal or external environment for the source of danger.
These are symptoms of our nervous system’s Fight -Flight Response. Something sounds or triggers the nervous system’s alarm and the Fight-Flight response takes off. Once the alarm is sounded, adrenalin rushes through our body and we feel all those uncomfortable sensations. The mind focuses on the problem and the body is ready to react.
Why Do Some of Us Get Anxious More Easily?
Recurring or chronic anxiety means our nervous system is hypersensitive, our internal alarm is set to go off more easily. This nervous system sensitivity often develops over time, whether from experiencing the chronic stress and pressures of daily life or from having experienced trauma. But, nervous system sensitivity can also develop suddenly, from experiencing single incident trauma or sudden profound loss– manifesting as PTSD.
What Triggers Our Nervous System’s Alarm?
Our nervous system alarm can be triggered by “real” or “perceived threats”. Whether we are about to be chased by a bear, we’re worried about money or health, or we are remembering a past traumatic experience – our body register the threat in a similar way: “something is terribly wrong and I need to ready myself to respond”.
How I Can Help
I have extensive training in anxiety and stress reduction as well as trauma treatment. My toolbox ranges from mindfulness based somatic techniques, that help the body’s nervous system relax and alarm system become less sensitive, to cognitive techniques, that help the mind focus on safe and nourishing resources rather than on stressful or distressing triggers, to Qigong, a form moving and still meditation.