941-462-4807 OR 860-501-9767 meg@megberrylcsw.com

Anxiety is a normal emotion. It is a wonderful safety measure the body and brain has to keep the body alive and safe. However, too often, the body and brain over-reacts to non-threatening situations because of past experiences. There is a part of the brain which is primitive and deals with survival. Think about an animal in the wild. If the animal is spooked, it quickly turns and runs. Often animals will turn and run just by seeing a human. The animal itself has probably not been through anything traumatic, but it still knows that humans are potentially a threat to the animal’s survival. Therefore, it doesn’t stick around to see if the human will cause it harm or not; it assumes harm and runs. We have that same survival part of the brain. The brain remembers things in many ways (sight, sound, smell, feel, taste, emotion, etc). If you have a stomach ache during a particular incident, then have another stomach ache later, it is possible to recall the previous incident in which also had a stomach ache. This is to keep you safe – the incident and the physical pain will be a trigger to anxiety in the future.

So, what happens is your brain is “triggered” by something (sight, smell, sound, feel, taste, emotion, etc) and immediately sends a signal telling the body to be ready for danger; keep the body alive. Immediately your heart rate increases, your blood pressure rises, you breathe faster, cortisol is sent into your body giving your extremities additional blood and oxygen allowing you to fight or run quickly, you realize you are not thinking clearly (you don’t need to think when in danger for your life; you just need to react). Another bodily reaction you may not realize includes digestion turning off (again you don’t need to digest when in danger. The body needs to prioritize what systems need to function to keep you alive). Excellent when truly in danger, right? But what if you aren’t truly in danger? That is where people struggle.

Anxiety is a natural emotion and a necessary one at that. Anxiety can be a very uncomfortable emotion, though, so often people want to “stop” being anxious. A better goal may be to control anxiety symptoms and work with a therapist on why you’re having excess anxiety. There are many techniques to help with anxiety when it overtakes your life. Mindfulness is a wonderful tool to help with anxiety. You can learn a lot about anxiety online. Breathing techniques (breathing from your stomach slowly and not from your chest quickly) as well as many other breathing techniques go along with mindfulness and are an amazing technique. If you’ve ever tried to breathe quickly on purpose, you’d notice that you can actually make yourself feel anxious. The same goes for slowing your breath – you calm your body as well. Other modes of therapy that can help with anxiety include EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), ART (accelerated resolution therapy), MBSR (Mindfulness based stress reduction), even CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), among others.

If you are feeling overanxious, it may be helpful to try some mindfulness and breathing exercises. If you don’t find this to be enough, contact a therapist. If you need help locating one or you want to work with me, feel free to call or email me. I will be more than happy to talk with you about what you need. 860-501-9767; 941-462-4807; megberrylcsw@fastmail.com.