We are all predisposed to being anxious.
It keeps us alive! So why are most people not debilitated or limited with the type of anxiety that stops them from doing things? Learning about anxiety can provide solutions to help reduce feeling overwhelmed and help us to feel more confident.
Anxiety is created by a release of chemistry into the body preparing us for fighting, fleeing, or freezing in the face of danger. This was very important during ancient times when life was filled with physically dangerous experiences for us. This chemistry of anxiety can now be a good motivator for helping us to finish projects and get to work and school on time.
When we are impacted negatively by anxiety it does not switch off as it should. We can feel ‘I am not safe’ all the time. This is when we start to avoid doing things that make us feel even more worried, such as going into new environments, in order to reduce the discomfort. This is also the beginning of debilitating anxiety.
There are many ways to turn off the chemistry of anxiety. Understanding how our brain works can help you to know the solution. Our brain is divided into 3 parts. The instinctive brain (old brain) is hidden deep inside the brain and is responsible for our basic functions of life and releasing the chemistry of anxiety. Our emotional brain is in the middle of the brain structure and also plays a role in learning and in anxious feelings. Our thinking brain (neocortex) is responsible for reasoning and has power to reduce and control the anxiety cycle. Using simple stategies we can over ride and switch off the instinctive brain and bring a return to calm.
One very simple strategy is deep abdominal breathing. Pulling the breath down into the lower abdomin can turn off the fear response and turn on the relaxation response, according to Harvard University.
We will look at different breathing strategies next newsletter. Until then, teaching our children to breath deeply can stop anxiety from becoming a problem for them.
Strategy: Hands on lower abdomen to ensure it rises and falls then… Breathe in for 4: hold for 7: and out for 8! Repeat 4 times. Simple but effective.