Did You Know... 45% of people will experience a Mental Health condition in their lifetime In any one year – over 2 million people have anxiety – in Australia! 1 in 3 women experience anxiety 1 in 8 men experience anxiety Believe it or not, Anxiety is your friend ! It is a completely normal and natural emotional state. Anxiety is when the brain perceives some sort of danger and prepares your body and mind to either fight, flight or freeze. Anxiety is your protector. It is the reason your foot slams on the brakes before you realise what is happening and the reason you suddenly have superhuman abilities when your child is in danger. So, if anxiety is my friend, why does it feel so terrifying? Your brain is over a million years old. It often gets confused as to what is a ‘real threat’ and what is a ‘perceived threat’. What this means is, your body and brain will act the exact same if you had a live tiger in front of you VS thinking about a terrifying tiger! Your brain is designed to SURVIVE not THRIVE, so it is on the lookout 24/7 for danger. For your brain to THRIVE, you must become aware of two types of anxiety and how to manage each. Two types of anxiety - FEELING ANXIETY and THOUGHT ANXIETY Feeling anxiety is when you get all those uncomfortable physical and physiological feelings. You know, the heart feels it is about to jump out of your chest? The sweaty or shaky hands, the shallow breathing and lets not forget the knot in your stomach. And no, it's not that creamy carbonara you had last night, although your body will be shutting down everything, including your digestive system. So needing to go to the bathroom when nervous, is a completely normal physiological reaction. Here is why each of these symptoms are your friends and nothing to be afraid of. Your heart is beating fast to pump blood around the body so you can run away from the threat. You are shaking because you have adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormones running through your body to get you ready to fight. You are sweating so your body can cool itself down Finally, your body is shutting everything down, including your digestion, because it needs all the energy to fight whatever is in front of you. Often, feeling anxiety can trigger the second type of anxiety - ‘Thought Anxiety’ . This is why you hear your brain often thinking worst case scenario; I had a missed call from my boss = I am getting fired That person laughed in the meeting = I said something stupid He is late for my date = he is not interested We need to ask ourselves, are these facts or thoughts? Strategies - How do we manage our anxiety effectively? You need to control your physical anxiety first. When feeling anxiety is activated, your frontal lobe – the part of your brain involved with judgement and decision making shuts off. Have you ever asked yourself why you can’t think straight when you are in an anxious state? You are not losing the plot, your bodily responses shut off your frontal lobe to deal with the stressor, remember. Use the following to manage your physical anxiety: Diaphragmatic Breathing (deep belly breathing) Exercise Progressive Muscle Relaxation Once you are able to think clearly, manage those unhelpful thoughts that feel like facts! Try these steps once you are calm. Write down your thoughts and allow yourself to challenge them! Is this effective, how likely is it to happen? So, what if it happens? What can I think instead? Re-create those thoughts If you need to speak with an experienced and qualified psychologist, feel free to get in touch with Cyber Clinic. Stephanie Georgiou MPSYCH, GD IPPSYCH, BAPSYCH (HONS) Registered Psychologist Board Approved Supervisor Author - Food Jail Breaking the Bars of Binge Eating Buy Food Jail on Amazon
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