Anxiety is an overarching term for feelings of fear, nervousness, apprehensiveness, or worry. Everybody gets anxious at times and some anxiety actually helps us to function well, but anxiety can become a problem.
Fear is designed to help us out run a Saber-toothed tiger, or fight it, or freeze until it passes.
Anxiety however is a reaction to a perceived threat, but one that is not actually happening. Such as worrying in 2019 that a noise outside your window is a Saber-toothed tiger trying to get in to eat you.
Anxiety whispers to us what if? It tells us that we cannot cope if … It tells us that we will have a heart attack, faint, go crazy etc.
Although the sensations in the body of light headedness, being unable to breathe, feeling sick, dizzy, hot, shaky etc are horrible they cannot cause the above.
The reason for the unpalatable feelings are due to our thinking and changes in our breathing which are trying to prepare us for the Saber-toothed tiger. One of the first steps to reduce these sensations is to slowly breath out and then in. Check out where you are now, look around you, is what your mind was telling you happening now? (the what ifs)
Do not do any reassurance actions, such as checking that the Saber-toothed tiger can’t get in. You may initially feel better for reassuring yourself but longer term you are just reinforcing the idea of a false threat.
Learn to see your anxiety as if it were a wave and learn to surf that wave. Imagine your anxious thought is just passing through your mind like a cloud over the sun. Watch it pass by but don’t get caught up in it. Don’t try to push it away as then it will keep coming back. Just imagine that all clouds have their own unique shape and appearances that we can watch disappear on the horizon.
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