Both Sides of Anxiety


Treading frantically

gasping for air while drowning

In a flood of thoughts

http://Haiku-Heights.blogspot.com

People who are highly anxious have brains that want them to survive.  

The brain just doesn’t know they aren’t in danger.

Anxiety creates a hypervigilance – always scanning your environment, your world,  for what could go wrong, what needs attention, what is a threat.  It’s exhausting.  It sets you up for physical, mental and emotional tension.  People who are anxious are also exhausting to be around.  Relationships can be strained, tense, on edge.

Anxious energy that is pervasive is hard to understand if you aren’t the anxious type.  You may have wondered: Why are they making such a “big deal” out of nothing?  Why are they always telling me what to do or how to do it?  Why are they shying away from social interaction, crowded venues?  What’s with the negativity?  Why don’t they just CHILL OUT?

HOWEVER there are extremely high functioning people with anxiety disorders:

  • People who scan their environments make excellent teachers,  – always on the alert for what is working what isn’t, who is working, who isn’t
  • People who are anxious make great athletes —  it can create a competitive edge and it keeps them on their toes (pun intended).  The extreme exercise helps burn off the anxious edge.  Exercise makes them feel better and they can become compulsive about it which makes them better athletes . . .
  • People who are anxious are often tidy and neat.  If their external environment is as cluttered as their internal environment it makes them more anxious.
  • People who are anxious are good planners.  They don’t like surprises which throws their anxiety higher.
  • Hypervigilant people can excel at detail work since they don’t miss much.

There’s always a spectrum, a continuum of any condition.  Anxiety can range from mild to overwhelming, from high functioning to disabling disorders.  The idea here is not to paint everything or everyone with a broad stroke.   The hypervigilance which can drive you crazy can also sustain you in many facets of life.

In addition to doing the breath work and saying “I’m safe” as I talked about in the post     http://wp.me/pLGhj-2LC

exercise is also at the top of the list.  You don’t have to be a world-class athlete to benefit.  Just do brisk walking every day for a total of 29 minutes.

Here’s a short article from the Mayo Clinic:

“How does exercise help depression and anxiety?

Exercise probably helps ease depression in a number of ways, which may include:

  • Releasing feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters and endorphins)
  • Reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression
  • Increasing body temperature, which may have calming effects

Exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits too. It can help you:

  • Gain confidence. Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.
  • Take your mind off worries. Exercise is a distraction that can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression.
  • Get more social interaction. Exercise may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others. Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.
  • Cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive to manage anxiety or depression is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how badly you feel, or hoping anxiety or depression will go away on their own can lead to worsening symptoms.

What kind of exercise is best?

The word “exercise” may make you think of running laps around the gym. But a wide range of activities that boost your activity level help you feel better. Certainly running, lifting weights, playing basketball and other fitness activities that get your heart pumping can help. But so can gardening, washing your car, or strolling around the block and other less intense activities. Anything that gets you off the couch and moving is exercise that can help improve your mood.”

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression-and-exercise/MH00043

12 thoughts on “Both Sides of Anxiety

  1. I like this. It is the first site on anxiety disorders that acknowledges some of the “positive” sides of a broken brain..And I’ve been reading and searching for hours now.

    The realization that there were some upsides to all of this, for me is helpful in dealing with all my exhausting quirks every day.

    Thanks!

    Bird

    Like

    • Cathie,
      Perfect timing that you responded to this post on anxiety! I JUST had a wonderful, intelligent, beautiful client this evening who has an anxiety disorder. We talked about how her anxiety gets expressed and that there is nothing wrong with her. Her brain is just on alert and how she can stop beating herself up which makes her brain even MORE alert for danger!
      There are some incredibly good upsides to all things painful — it’s just hard to recognize them when the pain is our own.

      Like

    • Melanie,
      Medication is absolutely helpful for the right people in the right circumstances. I used to believe that “talk therapy” was what was needed. But a little older and a little more experienced has helped me understand that our brains have imbalances just like our bodies.
      I’m sorry to hear that you are not well enough to exercise as that does help.
      Judy

      Like

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