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Why the Rush?

Anxiety symptoms can have a huge impact on out day to day life, for example, an anxious person might go out of their way to avoid feeling anxious and/or the distressing experiences that cause them to feel anxious. Essentially anxiety is a natural reaction to worrying about something, that could be a ‘real’ potential threat or a ‘perceived’ potential threat.

Often, we feel anxious as we think about or try to cope with a future event that we think will be negative or have a negative outcome. Real threats are often much easier to deal with than perceived ones.  


Our bodies are brilliantly designed to deal with real threats, and when our Fight, Flight or Freeze (FFF) defence system is activated, our sympathetic nervous system kicks in, adrenalin in released, which activates all the necessary changes in our bodies that help us to deal with the threat or immediate danger. Such as rapid heart rate, sweating, heightened senses, rapid breathing, decreased awareness of pain, increased strength and performance, dilated pupils, feeling jittery or shaky. 


These are all really useful responses and help prepare our bodies to deal really quickly with the threat or danger. Once the threat or danger has passed, the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in restores and restores our body to a state of calm. PHEWWWW!!! 


However, what is annoying and often inconvenient is when the FFF is activated and the sympathetic nervous system kicks in when there isn’t really any obvious reason for us to feel threatened.  This can make us feel awful! It gets more difficult for us to return to calm as we keep paying attention to the feeling of a perceived 

potential threat, we then might start to look for (unconsciously, mind you) all the evidence we can find to tell ourselves that there is in fact something to fear. By the way we all do this at times, we can all feel anxious when we don’t know why, this is a normal part of our lived experience, and it’s good to practice what we might do, when we do – if that makes sense.  


One way to determine whether a threat is real or not is to check it out with others.  Ask other people if there is anything to worry about, they may be able to help you to work out what’s on your mind.  Ask someone you trust and see what they think, if there is genuinely something to worry about then ask them for help, or someone else if they are not the right person. 


Another question might be worth asking yourself – ‘Am I able to cope with this on my own?’ If not, can I ask for help, one thing that is never helpful is keeping it all bottled up, keeping quiet just makes you feel worse. It’s ok to say ‘I need some help with this’. A problem shared is a problem halved, even if you are not sure what the problem is.  


Everyone feels anxious about doing things they fear, most people feel anxious sometimes and they don’t know why. Whatever the reason, the important thing to remember is that you can learn skills that help you to feel calm again. There are some information sheets available which explain these coping skills in more detail, if you would like more information please email me and I can send you out some resources, or we can have a chat and I can help teach you these skills. Here is a one tip to take away with you that is always helpful, whatever the reason for the adrenalin rush:  


Breathing: By really slowing down your breathing, particularly your outward breath after holding it in for a few seconds, and using calming and relaxation techniques, it really can help to reduce your anxiety, you can switch on the parasympathetic nervous system and return to calm… Phewwww!!! 


Written by Emma Williams, Wellbeing Mentor