What even IS anxiety?
The experience of anxiety is basically the experience of the things our body and mind does automatically when it believes we’re under threat.
It’s often also known as being in "fight or flight mode” – our nervous system implements a bunch of changes in our brain and body…our breath quickens, our heart beats faster, blood rushes to our muscles, and our brain switches off its more complex parts (we typically don’t need algebra when under life and death threat) … all purposefully done so we can fight or run away from the threat and just focus on surviving.
The thing is, our modern day lives here in Los Angeles, don’t often encounter the kind of threats this system was originally awesome at protecting us from… it’s kinda out of date, amazing and sophisticated in many ways, but super out of date and annoying in others.
Back in our cave-dwelling days, likely threats were being eaten by a bear (or something like that - history never was my strong point!) so that anxiety response was, quite literally, life-saving as it helped us get away from the bear's snapping jaws.
Nowadays, we don’t often have to worry about bears attacking us in Westwood, Beverly Hills or Culver City, but our body and mind can respond to modern day ‘threats’ in the exact same way as if it were a bear chasing us - crazy deadlines at work? Big public speaking engagement? Driving on the 405? Juggling kids and career? Family visit for the holidays?
We can have that same anxiety experience even when it’s not life and death. Our system just sort of mislabels the situation as ‘BEAR’ and responds accordingly.
The annoying thing is that reaction isn’t so helpful when the threat isn’t a bear or something equally life or deathy – heart banging out of your chest when you have to speak in public? That’s not saving your life, that’s making it harder to deliver your presentation.
Driving on the 405 got you tense and sweaty? –that's not doing much good for getting you home in one piece and ready to relax for the evening.
Screaming kids wearing your patience? 'Fight or flight' mode doesn’t encourage restraint, reason, or a nice calm discussion about inappropriate behavior. Instead it drives you to yell, slam the door and run away – not things we tend to feel good about once we calm down!
This is what’s going on when we talk about ‘having anxiety’ – it’s these automatic reactions being triggered inaccurately, by sometimes banal things.
The work that I do here at MOVEMENTAL, is designed to calm our systems, unwind it from these automatic anxiety responses and allow us to take back control so we don’t lose our sh!t over things that aren’t really life or death.
If that sounds like the kind of calm and self-control you could use in your life… please do get in touch!