In today’s fast-paced and demanding world, anxiety has become an increasingly prevalent issue affecting millions of individuals worldwide. Whether triggered by work-related stress, personal relationships, or global events and can feel overwhelming, anxiety is a natural human response to perceived threats or stressful situations. Though it can be a symptom of a mental illness, it is not a mental illness. Anxiety is a normal state, doing exactly what it was designed to do. It is designed to protect us from real or perceived danger. So when anxiety is triggered, the fight or flight response kicks in to prepare you for danger, and as a result, you’ll experience a range of physical sensations like the following:
- Your heart beats faster
- Your stomach feels a little nauseous
- You might feel dizzy or light-headed
- You might feel shaky and weak
- You might feel like something terrible is going to happen
- You might feel the need to run
- You might break out into a sweat
- You might even feel shortness of breath
All of which are normal physical reactions of a healthy body doing what it was designed to do when your brain senses real or perceived danger. You would feel some of these same physical sensations if you were getting ready to ride a rollercoaster, go skydiving, go surfing, or do any other activity that would give you that same adrenaline rush you feel when you experience anxiety or panic. The difference is how you react to anxiety versus how you react to those adrenaline-rushing activities. Anxiety is not about how you feel, it’s about how you react to how you feel. Sometimes anxiety gets triggered at the wrong time, prompting us to react in a way that further perpetuates the anxiety. Instead of noticing that there is no danger and riding the wave of discomfort, we become afraid of our physical sensations.
Though our bodies are doing what they were designed to do, in some cases we choose to feel those sensations by indulging in those adrenaline-rushing activities. In other cases, it feels like it sneaks up on us. Perhaps it’s trauma gone unaddressed, neglecting our basic self-care needs, ineffectively managing our relationships, workplace stress, or something else that has caused your anxiety to feel unmanageable. Whatever the case may be, please understand that you are not broken. You’re not too sensitive, too dramatic, or too much. Your thinking has become disordered and you can learn the skills necessary to change your thinking and develop a healthier relationship with anxiety.