Anxiety is natural (part 2)
Anxiety is a natural and healthy feeling. It’s part of animal survival. It tells us we don’t feel safe. We are having a physical reaction. People feel they can’t breathe, they have pins and needles throughout their body. Their heartbeat is more pronounced. People choose not to go out of their homes. Physically staying where they feel safest. There is nothing intellectual about anxiety – it’s physical. It’s primal and the higher part of your brain – reasoning and logic - are overridden when the amygdala is in gear. That’s the part of your brain that takes care of you when you are threatened.
Left side and right side of the brain. The left side is linked to logic, analysis, time keeping, list making. The right is linked to dreaming, creativity and meditation. Activities where you lose a sense of time and become caught up in the moment, in the activity you are engaged in. The left side: you will be jumping about with ideas and comparing past events and thinking ahead to plans of the future. The right: you have forgotten about past and future, you are just in the present.
Anxiety-relieving activities on offer today basically echo this right side of the brain’s preferred activities. Mindfulness = meditation, trying to be in the present. But society hounds us to be left brained. Meeting targets, checking clocks, always thinking of new and better ways to ‘do things’.
There are a zillion ways you can feel present. Peaceful. It’s really not rocket science or expensive. You will have done things that self soothe from a young age. Remember the play park and swinging on the swings. A very physical experience, that's hard to forget you are doing. It brings you into the present and into your body awareness.
We are a society of doers and guilty if we are not seen to be doing. Daydreaming when I was growing up was scorned. Yet lying under a tree and watching the branches sway, the light change, the birds and insect life move about, the weather’s effects upon the tree, the sunlight, the wind. And me, my body resting on the Earth, the cool ground, the prickly grass, the cold breeze, the damp earthy smell. Not much space for my future and past to get involved! And I’ve not even begun to describe and notice the sounds yet.
Permission. All we need to do is own these moments. Often people I meet with feel out of control. The feelings and thoughts are in control. It sounds very scary for them. Very disempowering, and far away from themselves. How can someone feel the power to own and comfortably inhabit their existence?
Many roads lead to Rome, and I’m sure un-walked routes are taken. My favourites that I recommend are meditation, psychotherapy, creativity, embodiment and nature. In my work I offer a blend of all these in one to one and group therapy sessions, consultations with parents or professionals, group work in workshops and retreats.
Thank you to my friend who suggested talking about anxiety. Please feel free to raise a topic with me to write about.