Making Sense of Anxiety

Notes from Anxiety Super Conference 2022

Anxiety is the feeling of your amygdala siring the fire alarm in your brain. It can be the over-active nervous system or hyper-aroused state of feeling unsafe. When anxiety feels stuck, it has likely settled into a freeze, parasympathetic nervous system state of not knowing what to do with the uncertainty.

The Three Types of Anxiety

Mental Anxiety can be experienced as:

Overactive, racing mind

Replaying events and conversations

Running through future scenarios in your mind

Feeling tired and your wired mind keeps you up at night

Difficulty focusing on the task at hand, because your wired mind keeps racing through other scenarios of what is still left undone

Working with Mental Anxiety:

Training the mind to stop trying to think itself out of thinking too much

Calming the mind and getting into the body with meditation, mindfulness, yoga, Qigong, Tai Chi

Identifying and breaking through patterns of thinking

"Where attention goes, energy flows."

Emotional Anxiety can be experienced as:

Feeling unsafe

Feeling sensitive

Feeling emotionally shutdown/numb

Easily triggered

Confused about how you feel

Working with Emotional Anxiety:

Identify, express, and maintain necessary boundaries

Slow down your inner world

Take time and space to digest and feel your emotions

Practice self-compassion in relating to how you are feeling

Validate your anxiety with "this makes sense (to feel this way considering the circumstance)"

Reach out to safe individuals (friends, family, therapist) when you need help processing and metabolizing emotion

Physical Anxiety can be experienced as:

Racing heart, shallow breathing, tight muscles

Agitated, on edge

Can't settle down to enjoy a quiet, peaceful moment

Potentially as other physical symptoms that continue to be undiagnosed or untreated by doctors including insomnia and chronic pain

Working with Physical Anxiety:

Movement, allow the energy to move through and out of you

Check-in with yourself to identify if you need to have high-intensity movement to match the level of anxious movement inside your body (ie. biking, running, boxing, high-intensity workouts ), or if your body is wanting to feel soothed and grounded through movement (ie. Tai Chi, Qigong, weight lifting/resistance training, stretching, yoga, and other low-intensity workouts)

Check your blood sugar and stimulant levels

Reduce your sugar intake (candy, soda, processed foods, potentially even fruit) and use of stimulants (coffee, caffeinated tea, energy drinks, sodas)

Investigate your hormone levels

Check your quality of sleep and explore sleep hygiene adjustments

by Alex Howard, Creator of Therapeutic Coaching