Everybody knows what anxiety feels like. Remember taking an important exam, or meeting somebody for the first time? Perhaps needing to make a speech or perform in some way. Those wobbly legs and a brain that just doesn’t function.

What happens to us when anxiety strikes?anxiety

There is a part of the brain called the amygdala. When we are faced with a situation that we perceive as dangerous, stressful or exciting – the amygdala sends a message down to the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline. Imagine that there was a predator on the horizon. Adrenaline puts us in to the ‘fight or flight response mechanism’ so that we can protect ourselves – run away quickly or fight harder. That adrenaline continues to pump through our body until the danger has passed and then the adrenal glands will switch off.

There is also another part of the brain called the Hippocampus. That is our long term memory. If we are entering into an anxiety provoking situation that we have experienced before – then it sends a message to our amygdala to remind us that adrenaline was previously needed.

What does adrenaline do?

To be able to run fast or fight hard – the body needs speed and strength. Adrenaline ensure that the brain, nerves and heart receive extra blood. Your blood pressure goes up, along with your heart rate. When the adrenal glands switch off, remaining adrenaline will become stress cortisol in the blood.

Can I live without adrenaline?

No. If you see a yellow and brown striped animal coming towards you – you want your reactions to tell you to run, climb a tree and escape. You don’t want your reactions to say ‘it is probably nothing’. Anxiety keeps us safe. It is just that sometimes our brains and bodies tell us that situations are more dangerous that they need to be, which can leave us feeling anxious and stressed.

What are the side effects of living with anxiety?

If you are in a state of hyper-vigilance or always on the guard for stressful situations, or perhaps constantly triggering anxiety responses to daily situations – then it places a toll on your mind and body. Too much stress can lead to emotional, physical and psychological issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure and chest pains. People under stress are likely to resort to poor lifestyle choices including poor eating, lack of exercise and increased nicotine / alcohol levels.

If you or someone you know could benefit from working with me on anxiety please get in touch!

Look out for my 2nd blog – “How anxiety can affect you every day”, which will include the physical signs of anxiety, and emotional changes.

Liz Sharpe

Advanced BWRT Practitioner and Coach, Trainer and Hypnotherapist.

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