“Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.” ~Walter Anderson
If you hold an emotional state long enough, it will change your brain chemistry. While we are products of genetics and past experiences, the good news is that we don’t have to be stuck with our present state. If we don’t like it, we can consciously make our futures brighter.
Neuroplastic healing can change and form new connections in your brain. However, this process of healing can be slowed by anxiety disorders. According to ADAA, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million aged 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
How do you know if you have a normal level of anxiety or suffer from anxiety disorders? It’s best to consult with a mental health professional to be properly diagnosed, because it’s important to receive appropriate treatment. Here are a few things for you to consider…
In a study by Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, researchers found that people diagnosed with anxiety are less able to distinguish between a “safe” stimulus and one that was earlier associated with a strong emotional response.
“In the study, researchers trained people to associate three distinct tones with one of three outcomes: money loss, money gain, or no consequence. In the next phase, study participants were presented with one of 15 tones and were asked whether they’d heard the tone before in training or not. Correct answers were rewarded with money.
People with anxiety were more likely than healthy controls to think that a new tone was actually one associate with money loss or gain. Those differences weren’t explained by differences in participants’ hearing or learning abilities. They perceived the sounds that were earlier linked to an emotional experience differently.
Functional magnetic resonance images (fMRIs) of the brains of people with anxiety versus healthy controls showed differences in brain responses, too. Those differences were mainly found in the amygdala, a brain region related to fear and anxiety. These results strengthen the idea that emotional experiences induce changes in sensory representations in anxiety patients’ brains.”
People with anxiety disorders are living with brains on overdrive. As a result, they often experience the following…
- They have difficulty trusting people, seeing threats where there are none.
- They think that people are talking about them behind their back.
- They have a difficulty reading facial expressions and body language.
- Making conversation is painful.
- They tend to judge themselves harshly.
- They prefer to stay at home where it’s calm and controlled.
- They are filled with pent up energy that produces unpleasant body sensations and difficulty in focusing.
- They can’t shut their brains off and relax.
- They hold themselves and others to impossible standards.
- They struggle with perfectionism, often reacting in one of two extremes – quickly giving up or refusing to quit until they reach a self-imposed goal.
- They tend to have a negative self-image.
- Emotional triggers cause them to overreact with a fear response.
- Everything is overwhelming and stressful.
- Decision-making skills are hampered by feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.
- They are “thin skinned” and easily wounded emotionally.
You may recognize a few of these traits within yourself to some degree, because we all experience feelings of anxiety. After all, anxiety is a naturally neurological function that protects us from harm. But to experience them day after day is draining and debilitating.
You CAN learn to consciously and mindfully process and extinguish your emotional responses. If you suffer from undue anxiety, you CAN naturally improve your skills to cope and learn to live life on your own terms. By patiently taking one step at a time, you can achieve the life you desire. As Thich Nhat Hanh says,
“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.”
It often helps to work through your anxieties with a trusted friend or partner. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Let’s work through the rough patches together, so you can fully feel the exhilaration of life.