Getting stuck in the anxiety loop

Although it can sometimes feel overwhelming, anxiety is one of our survival responses to a threat that might be real or imagined. And it’s something we’ve all experienced.  

Think back to the last time you felt threatened.   The minute you perceived danger, your ‘fight or flight’ alarm system was activated to keep you safe.  What does this actually mean?  Your body prepared you for action by releasing adrenaline into your blood stream, allowing your body’s systems to speed up and blood to be diverted to your big muscles. Not surprisingly, it will have caused uncomfortable symptoms in your body; a racing heart, sweaty palms and fast, shallow breathing, to name but a few. 

Anxiety is often our body trying to tell us something

Anxiety is your body trying to let you know that we need to do something; often that you need to make a change.  It’s just that often we’re just not sure how to make that change.

It’s easy to get caught in an anxiety loop and the longer we’re stuck, the more our anxiety spirals, leading to tension and stress.  I know that when I feel anxious, I stop seeing the woods from the trees.  I stop thinking rationally, I go over the same thoughts again and again and I find it difficult to sleep.  The anxiety always seems present.

Sometimes it can help to recognise your anxiety for what it is and simply allow yourself to sit with it, knowing that it will pass.  Start by noticing where you’re feeling it in your body.  Then try slow, steady, rhythmic breathing. This can help to still your thoughts, regulate your nervous system and allow you to focus on the present, rather than on a real or imagined future that feels frightening.

You might like to think about what small change you could make to help you feel less anxious.   Ask yourself, is there anything I’m doing or not doing that’s keeping me stuck?  Is there something I’m avoiding? Pause and ask yourself, what is it that I’m reacting to?  What do I think is going to happen?  Is there something I’m angry about that I haven’t acknowledged?  Am I worried about what other people think of me?

Sometimes that small change can be as simple letting a friend know how we feel.   

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