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Understanding Anxiety

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

We hear a lot about anxiety and how it can impact the daily life of people. But what is anxiety and what are some of the things that we can do to help if we are someone that suffers with it?


Anxiety is part of the brain and something that we have had for thousands and thousands of years. It was something that we as humans have had since we were 'cave people' and it is what has evolved to keep us safe.



a woman sat on a chair, looking in distress.


The part of the brain that deals with anxiety is easily triggered. When you are suffering with anxiety, it is constantly in that triggered state. Our brain then sends signals to us that we are unsafe or that there is some risk. This triggering could be linked to a traumatic event or just something that is triggered by small things. But if you trace it back, there is likely to be a link to some trauma or worry of something traumatic that could happen. So then, if someone says something that triggers that anxiety part of your brain, or you're facing a situation that triggers that anxiety part of the brain, you are going to go into one of four states:


  • Fight

  • Flight

  • Freeze

  • Fawn


Fight

If you go into a state of 'fight' then you are likely to become fidgety, sweaty, an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach, and a feeling of wanting to move and do something. If you feel this way when you're anxious, then you could try using that anxious energy by going for a walk. By using up the energy in a positive way, it can hep to alleviate the anxious feelings. If you can't physically go anywhere, because you're at work or on a plane, for example, then try clenching your fists and holding them for a five seconds, then release and repeat until you feel calmer.


Flight

When your anxiety is triggered, you could go into flight mode, which is where you just want to physically leave. You could be in a frantic state and feel like you can't process anything. One of the things that you can do to help if you are in a state of flight, is to physically leave where you are. If you can't physically leave, then you should think about mindfulness. Look around you and think of the things that you can see, hear, touch, feel, or perhaps taste. This can help you to go through the anxiety and help to calm you.


Freeze

If you are someone that freezes when they are experiencing anxiety, then you can feel physically stuck. You can feel a rush of adrenaline but not be able to do anything, and sometimes even feel cold. But this will pass. If you can, then being in the moment can really make a difference to the hit of adrenaline that you will get with anxiety, and help it to pass. If you feel 'stuck,' then be practice mindfulness and think about what your feet feel like on the floor. If you can, then move around the room or just move your feet. It will help to shorten that adrenaline hit.


Fawn

If you fawn when experiencing anxiety, then you will be busy trying to keep other people happy. If you feel anxious, you will go to be a people pleaser. It can be a way to keep your mind busy so you're not focusing on the actual anxious feelings. If this is you, then it is a good idea to remember that this feeling will pass. Be mindful and focus on how safe you feel.


What to do when the anxiety has passed


When your anxiety has passed, there can be a low feeling after the adrenaline hit that you can experience when you're anxious. As a result, it can work wonders for you if you do something to help give yourself a boost and top yourself up. This could be anything from having a chocolate bar to listening to your favourite song or watching a funny video on YouTube. It just helps to give yourself a positive after the low.


Seeking help with anxiety


If you find that you struggle with anxiety a lot, then it could be worth looking into what is causing it, and dealing with the trauma or what triggers anxiety for you. This could be talking with a trusted friend or family member, or perhaps with therapy. This is what we at The Wellbeing Therapy Hut can help with. Please get in touch to find out more about how we can help.



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