Where does one begin?
I’m not going to lie; I ironically got anxiety writing about anxiety, haha.
As a Registered Clinical Counsellor, parent and personal development coach, consultant, educator and mentor, and someone who runs equine-led workshops centred around women – busy mums, personal growth, entrepreneurs, compassion fatigue, etc, I found I could write about anxiety from multiple paradigms. The writing started to resemble a dissertation paper, not a blog.
I would start to write, then delete, started and deleted, started and deleted… down one rabbit hole to another… ARGH!!!! Hahahaha.
I pondered (procrastinated) and pondered some more. How could I write about anxiety, worry, stress, and fear but keep it simple? I decided to write about them from a Neuroscience perspective.
- What is anxiety
- Where anxiety originates in the brain and the different parts of the brain.
- What happens in the brain and body when you get triggered and experience anxiety
- How to self-manage anxiety and re-wire your brain when you experience it
At the end of this blog, I felt it would be beneficial to read some tips and tricks on regaining control from a bout of anxiety.
So, without further ado, let’s begin.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a strong feeling of worry, fear or stress. It’s the unpleasant emotion we might feel when anticipating something we believe will be unpleasant – like a driving test or a visit to the dentist. Everyone experiences anxiety at some point; for example, your wallet is not in your back pocket when you go to pay for something, or your purse is not in your handbag. You get to your car after shopping and get your car keys, and they’re not there. Your car breaks down on the way to an important meeting. You get rear-ended in your vehicle at some point and become very wary of vehicles driving quickly towards the rear of your car. Or, you’re about to abseil and go over the edge of a building or cliff. The experiences don’t cause it – we react more directly to those. It’s caused by thinking about those things before they happen and anticipating they will be awful. Our anticipation is cognitive – it’s in our minds. But the reaction that it causes is a physical one. You might remember experiencing some physical sensations, such as nervousness, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, a tightening in your chest, your heart rate increasing, your breathing becoming shallow, and a pit in your stomach. The brain might have felt thick and numb with a rush inside your head where you couldn’t think clearly. (A state of shock).
Anxiety disorders are now one of the leading mental illnesses worldwide, affecting over 40 million adults and children, according to an article by Dr Joseph LeDoux, a neuroscientist at the Centre for Neural Science at New York University (NYU).
Some people struggle with anxiety to such a level that it paralyses them and impacts their daily lives. For example, they have a diagnosable mental health disorder, such as generalised anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, PTS (Post Traumatic Stress), and social anxiety. These diagnoses may begin due to a negative experience, adverse childhood experiences, a car accident, bullying, or a toxic relationship.
A person struggling with diagnosable anxiety might take the car instead of walking to avoid dogs, crossroads, or shopping at hours when the fewest people are around. They feel like people don’t like them or are talking about them, judging them, even though there is no evidence to support that thinking. A fear or worry of ‘something’ that changes how they choose to live their life that may not be founded in anything seemingly ‘rational’.
When I had my private practice, which I established in 2012, I had many clients who struggled with anxiety (and depression) – males and females alike. I wanted to know more about anxiety and attended many workshops. One of the best ones I remember was by John B. Arden, PhD, author of “The Brain Bible” and “Brain Based Therapy for Anxiety” and other books. He spoke about the brain, the chemicals released, and what happens to someone experiencing anxiety. I found it fascinating.
This sparked an avid interest in neuroscience. I love learning about it and what happens in our brains, how it relates to our development journeys, our pasts, parenting, our children, and making sense of ourselves from the inside out. And, more importantly, how you can take back control by learning how to re-wire your brain.
If you decide to work with me in any of these capacities:
- Attending a workshop
- Attending an equine-facilitated-learning workshop
Part of that journey involves you learning information about your brain and your physiological responses. Alongside the most crucial aspect… tips and details on navigating and managing those responses in simple and basic English.
Where anxiety originates in the brain and the different parts of the brain.
Your brain has around 100 billion nerve cells called neurons and many more support cells. Your brain can create or reduce anxiety according to your actions and thoughts.
The most significant part of the brain is called the cerebrum. The brain is symmetrically divided down the middle, creating a left and right hemisphere.