It’s a fact, all of us will have suffered the odd anxious moment in our lives at some time or another. But for some anxiety builds to a level where the impact on quality of life is significant and sometimes devastating. So what is anxiety and how can we stop it becoming destructive?
Anxiety is part of our primitive defence mechanism, put in place to protect us when life was full of dangers such as sabre tooth tigers – a fight or flight response which takes place in our subconscious (part of our brain that we have no direct control over). Let’s call it our primitive brain.
And there are a few things you should know about that primitive brain…..
It’s negative – it always sees thing from the worst possible perspective. To be honest we should be grateful for this as it’s how the primitive brain has ensured our survival for as long as it has. Optimism is not helpful when facing a sabre toothed tiger – it only leads to being eaten! While this negativity is great when facing a genuine threat to life and limb, such as a tiger, it’s not so good for dealing with our modern day anxieties, such as finances, relationships and deadlines.
It’s obsessive – and keeps checking on the thing that caused the initial anxiety. Again helpful if there’s a tiger in the room, but seriously, what’s that bank statement actually going to do to you?
It’s habitual – which means it’s not so great at planning a new response. Once you’ve got into the habit of worrying about your finances (or whatever it is that causes your anxiety) your primitive brain likes you to keep on worrying about it – because you’ve survived so far by doing just that so why change?
Nowadays much of our anxiety is caused by the negative thought patterns that we fall into around every day events in life. A build up of anxiety can be a gradual process, but eventually the balance will tip, the fight or flight response is triggered and our primitive brain simply doesn’t know where to turn with the modern day threats it faces.
Once that balance is tipped a vicious circle is established – the more anxious we feel the more time we spend in our primitive brain, and the more we are encouraged to be negative….thereby creating more anxiety.
So how can we break this vicious circle?
Firstly we need to retrain the brain, learning a new pattern to focus on the positive aspects of life rather than the negative. It’s a fact that whatever we focus on we amplify, and simply making ourselves notice the good things protects us from building up new levels of anxiety.
Secondly we need to process the anxieties already present – and the best way to do this is through REM sleep. Once the influx of new anxieties is under control we have enough processing power during our sleep to deal with what’s already there.
Sound simple? It is, but it does take determination and commitment to make the shift. Hypnotherapy offers a gentle and natural way to create new brain patterns, often having a rapid effect in reducing anxiety to manageable levels.