There is so much to say about anxiety so today I want to attempt to try and write about how I understand it. Please note that I am just a Mum who has learnt on the job and am sharing my thoughts in the hope that they can help others.
I understand anxiety as a wave of feelings and thoughts, physical and mental that can work as a positive motivator or overwhelm you to the point of lack of proper control, resulting in a feeling of pure fear.
I believe that anxiety is a symptom of unrest somewhere within the person, this could be spiritually, physically, environmentally, or mentally. I believe anxiety can be reduced and resolved. I believe anxiety is a message board and it’s up to us to find the correct way to plug in all the wires.
Anxiety can sometimes be mild, and in these cases, great for getting things done, seeing things in a high alert state and therefore allowing more creativity, motivation and expression. It can help us to focus and achieve more. Mild anxiety can be our friend and form part of our bubbly and quirky personality. However, when anxiety becomes dark and severe, it can control your life, it can restrict what you are able to do and it can be very detrimental to your physical health.
The physical symptoms can range from anything from faster heart beat, sweat response, stomach problems, pain, feeling sick, nerves firing up, adrenaline surges, twitches, becoming faster, needing to run to becoming mute or just freezing up, going blank and having memory loss or lapses, crying shaking, rocking, unable to breathe properly, pins and needles, laughing uncontrollably. Then there are the mental responses, refusal, denial, obsession, anger, aggression, worry, thinking out of proportion, rudeness, lying, verbal abuse, self harm and so on. These are a result of trying to find an outlet for the physical symptoms or a solution to rid the self of the anxiety. Self harm can look like anything from hair pulling, to hitting oneself, to more severe hurting and channeling of the uncomfortable feelings that are overwhelming the body and mind. High anxiety can also manifest into conditions such as OCD or anorexia where rituals or actions have to be done in an attempt to rid the repetitive thought of percieved danger. This could include restricting food, extreme washing and all sorts of other harmful and life debilitating actions.
If anxiety originates from a thought, that thought is usually based on a past experience that has had significant enough stress around it to flag up in the future as a high alert situation which in turn switches on the flight or flight response. It can be buried into our subconscious and when it comes up, seems out of proportion to reality.
Anxiety can come directly from a thought, or it can start up from the environment we are in. Sensory processing can muddle the perception of an environment and this in turn can set of flight or flight response system to try and set right the confusion of the environment data. The mind and the body acting and reacting together so that sometimes its hard to pinpoint what set it off, whats driving it, where it came from and how to get some control of it. With the increased amount of chemicals in our daily lives, both from breathing and digesting, bodies can become impaired to deal with the detoxification of these harmful things, meaning a build up can negatively effect our hormones and in turn cause anxiety.
When you are child that knows no life without anxiety, who is looking for support from those who have never experienced severe anxiety, anxiety can be increased. These are the ones I write for, in the hope that talking about it can offer some insight to those who are caring for little ones that are suffering.
Sometimes, anxiety is more scary than the thing that set the anxiety off in the first place, so it becomes it’s own enemy and the sufferer does everything they can to keep the feeling of anxiety at bay. It’s the feeling of anxiety and loss of control that so many of us try to run from, replace or deny. It can feel as though there is foreign invader in your body that was uninvited and unwelcome. You will do anything to avoid this feeling. Sometimes it can raise up for moments and be tamed and sent away. Other times it hooks in for weeks on end and feels like a constant unwanted companion, somehow attached to you and dragging you away from who you really are. It is this aspect of anxiety that I believe drives PDA refusal. The fear of anxiety.
Now that I have spoken about how I see and experience anxiety, I would like to pop down some anxiety reducing techniques that I do find help.
Acknowledge don’t fight. I find this such a helpful way of mind because fighting it or running from it or denying it, seems to make it worse, it kind of makes the snow ball gather more snow. So I might stop and say to myself, oh hello, there you are, coming out to play today. Just so it knows I know its there.
Try to integrate it. By this I mean that I’m not sending it away as the devil, but I am saying, OK, you are part of me and there is some room for you. This seems to reduce it’s power a bit and settles into being part of who I am as apposed to something that I hate or don’t want. It’s kind of reverse psychology.
Take time to listen. Ask it what it wants you to know? Is there a real danger? Can you change your situation to ease it? Is it telling you that you have a deep issue or belief that needs to be changed?
Breathe and drink water. My friend always jokes with me and says, ‘Breathe Mel!’ And do you know, it’s one of those things that if I’m not consciously thinking about, I can forget to do..dur! When anxious or flooded with anxiety, breathing slows and becomes more shallow. But when I do take the time to tune into my breathing, or I have a particularly intense anxiety attack (a big hit that comes as a surprise) breathing is what gets everything right. Deep, slow breathing slows down the adrenal system. It tells the body and mind that there is no danger and if there is no danger, fight or flight busy bodies de activate! Become aware of breathing and learn how important a tool it is. It will also fill your body up with renewed energy and release the old energy. If you haven’t discovered how much of calmer water is.. go and drink some now, mindfully.
Take a look into your physical health and makeup. The adrenal systems, nervous systems, thyroid systems, your gut, your overall health, what we are breathing in and diet are all intertwined and connected. If there is unrest in any of the workings of your body, if your body is lacking in the intricate things its needs to function, then the unrest that is causing your anxiety might be improved by fixing things from here.
Do relaxing things. Sounds so obvious doesn’t it! But so many of us forget or don’t value ourselves enough to spend the time needed in tuning into ourselves in a relaxing way. Google anxiety relief and it will come up with exercise, mindfulness, yoga, meditation, love, family, holidays, music all of these things work, so why not?
Read. Knowledge is power and knowing you are not alone really helps too. So why not get some books about anxiety and learn as much as possible on the subject.
These are just some ideas, and really, I have just touched the tip of the iceberg but for any parents who might not experience anxiety but who has a child who does, I hope this post has given you some ideas and greater insight. Please leave comments if you have anything to add about anxiety. It is a personal and individual experience, but there is no shame in being a person with anxiety. If you asked me if I wanted to get rid of mine completely, I would say no. There is still so much we don’t know about it and everything has a reason. x
Cheers for reading. x