Written by Mairi Henderson
Anxiety is hugely prevalent in society today. Over the last couple of years, with all the uncertainty of COVID, lockdowns and associated issues, more people of all ages have been seeking help to deal with anxiety.
The nervous system is a bit like a smoke alarm. It is supposed to be there in case of emergencies, it is part of us, and when it’s doing its job properly, it’s good and it’s healthy.
The problem arises when our nervous system becomes over-sensitive and perceives threat and danger everywhere. When this happens, our alarm system goes off, flooding our bodies with stress hormones, and causing all the horrible physical feelings associated with anxiety.
In her book, ‘Atlas of the Heart’, Brene Brown explains that, unlike fear, which is a response to current threat, anxiety is linked to the future. Research has revealed that there is a link between intolerance to uncertainty and anxiety. It is common and natural to want to have control over what may happen. However, unfortunately we never really have control over the future and this striving often exacerbates symptoms.
Once the cycle of anxious thoughts, feelings and physical symptoms has started, it’s impossible to stop it using “mind over matter”. You cannot think your way out of anxiety once it is there. It is in our bodies and that’s where we must start to break its cycle.
Through counselling, we can learn techniques to put our bodies back into a calmer state and feel safer again. We can influence our brains, slow them down and reduce anxious, overthinking thought patterns.