Updated: Sep 20, 2021
We have all felt anxious once or more when under stress, and we have all heard “Just calm down.” “Just stop overthinking.” “You just need to chill.”. Did you get similar responses from those around you when you were under stress? Are you also tired of hearing them?
If yes, then this article is to answer the “how” of these responses. Before we do that let’s understand what anxiety looks like both biologically and psychologically.
Anxiety is a state of defense from an expected, imagined, proposed or perceived threat. This threat can be misinterpreted, misperceived or overestimated. When the body starts to prepare for this defense the stress response is set off by the hypothalamus, there is an increase in heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure. One might also experience sweating. The neurochemical, epinephrine/adrenaline thrusts the brain into alertness. We become hypervigilant of our surroundings. This results in loss of concentration and tensed muscles.
While all these biological reactions take place, the mind continues to get trapped in the loop of negative thought patterns. We question our worth, ability and existence. At this moment our mind keeps finding ways of telling us how we aren’t enough.
How To Get Out Of This Loop?
Self-talk — Treating our anxious thoughts as if we were talking to a negative person sitting in our head. Imagine, your best friend walks up to you and says “I am not good enough, I am a failure”. What would you do? You would tell them that they are giving their best, you would remind them of their accomplishments and state the facts rather than agreeing with them or just trying to distract them. Probably yes? Treat these anxious thoughts the same way. Answer every question this negative person in your mind raises about your ability or worth. Just like you would remind a friend of their strengths when they raise a question about their capability. Remember all that you are, all that you have done.
Mindfulness — In the state of anxiety we tend to react reflexively, without any consciousness. Through mindfulness-based interventions one learns to react reflectively, experiencing the present moment consciously and nonjudgmentally instead of avoidance. This approach provides assistance in dealing with the maladaptive coping mechanisms which are responsible for maintenance of the issue.
If you are looking forward to learning or enhancing your mindfulness practice, book a session with experts at ManoShala.
“You don’t see the mental illness: It’s not a mass; it’s not a cyst. But it’s there. Why do you need to prove it? If you can treat it, you treat it. I had pretty bad health anxiety that came from the OCD and thought I had a tumor in my brain. I had an MRI, and the neurologist referred me to a psychiatrist. As I get older, the compulsive thoughts and fears have diminished a lot. Knowing that a lot of my fears are not reality-based really helps.” — Actress, Amanda Seyfried, Allure Magazine
If you are struggling to manage the symptoms of anxiety you can find services such as cognitive behavioural therapy, insight-oriented psychotherapy, hypnosis and art based therapy at ManoShala. You can learn about each of these services in detail and more here. You can also find services related to mental health issues such as depression, ADHD, career-related stress, insomnia, relationship issues, trauma, overthinking and others.
Muskan Gupta, Psychologist, ManoShala