While anxiety is a necessary driver of survival, it can wreak havoc on the human psyche when there are not coping mechanisms in place to deal with it as it becomes unmanageable. Anxiety describes the biochemically-induced feelings of heightened awareness that are triggered by environmental stimuli. This physiological function evolved as a subconscious survival skill that helped protect people from threatening situations. However, the degree and type of threatening situations presented today are much different than what our ancestors experienced, and an abundance of anxiety and overactivity of the mind can be tough to manage within current societal and social landscapes as a result.
Anxiety is triggered by a perception of fear, and it is important to differentiate the ‘perception of fear’ rather than fear itself because there is subjectivity in assigning what is fear-provoking. That is to say, what one person might find fear-provoking, another person might enjoy. Similarly, two people that have a common conception of fear could react to a situation with completely different levels of anxiety based on each person’s genetic makeup and active biochemistry. It is inevitable that everyone will experience anxiety at some point in life and to some degree, but it is up to the individual to make a proper self-assessment and to start dealing with anxiety if it is negatively affecting healthy relationships or daily responsibilities in an ongoing way.
I try to teach my clients that you can either manage anxiety or be held hostage to it. Quite often, the more you try to ignore or suppress anxiety, the more it grows. A more constructive approach is to use the symptoms of anxiety as your body’s way of giving you information about what you need to do or what you need to be, in the present. Anxiety becomes inherently more manageable this way in my experience. So what exactly does it mean to ‘do or be' something in the present? It means starting to identify your perceptions of fear and your body’s unique response to that type of stimuli so that you can use it to your advantage. This is not an easy process for everyone, which is why there is a spectrum of resources available to facilitate more useful skills and peaceful coping.
If you are experiencing unmanageable anxiety, start looking for some support. Humans are social beings and did not evolve emotionally in isolation. So look around for people that you can trust, and start working towards a support system. There are proven forms of care like counseling and biofeedback that can help alleviate the acute phases of anxiety that often accompany times of high stress or acute emotional pain. And if you feel there is an underlying biochemical issue that is causing your anxiety, talk to a reputable psychiatrist who will assist with medication management or alternative treatments like TMS Therapy. Anxiety is a powerful influencer of behavior, especially when it is channeled correctly and used to make positive life changes.