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

A SMILE an Hour Keeps Me from Being Sour

Did you know?

  • A smile uses 17 muscles and a frown uses 43 muscles

  • If you make yourself smile, you will not only change the way people think about you but you will also change the way you feel about yourself. (I can testify to that.  The last few weeks I’ve been forcing my smiles on everyone I see.  It’s fascinating to watch others put their head down, stare straight ahead or SMILE back).

  • Women smile more than men do, in social situations and when alone. Female social smiling begins in infancy. It tends to increase as women age. When I smile it confuses people – which facial line is a smile line or an old age wrinkle?) (Fisher, Helen, PhD. The First Sex)

  • Real and fake smiles have the same positive effects on brain activity, skin temperature, heart rate and respiration. (Can’t tell the difference between my real and fake wrinkles either). Learning to Laugh.)Paul Ekman ,University of California, San Francisco
Collage, Valerie D.

Whenever we have a bright genuine smile on our face our body is sending a message to our brain, saying, “Life is GOOD!” Guess what happens next? Our brain releases ‘feel good’ hormones, called endorphins into our blood and we start feeling happier and more energized.

Still unconvinced about the benefits of a smile? – smiling lifts the face and makes us look younger, friendlier, more confident and more attractive.  A smile draws people in, just like frowns and scowls push them away. So make it easy on yourself – no matter what you mood is, relax your face and smile!

“Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile”

Words by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons, music by Charlie Chaplin