Why The Typical Anxiety Advice Doesn't Work...
Why The Typical Anxiety Advice Doesn't Work...
If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety and have tried the typical techniques to improve it but nothing seems to be working, it's not your fault. You need to understand anxiety isn't just a psychological problem. There is a physiological aspect to it also.
Stress Changes The Brain
Research has shown that when you experience a stressful situation, the brain makes micro-adjustments to better deal with the situation in the future. Therefore the brains of those who suffer from chronic anxiety tend to be adapted to release more stress hormones. 
This Is Actually A Good Thing...
While this may seem counterintuitive (after all, the last thing a person who suffers from anxiety needs is an elevated stress response), it is a crucial adaptation for our survival.  

100,000 years ago, if you were in the wilderness and came under attack, you would have wanted your body to release a flood of stress hormones because these hormones would have made you hyper-alert, energised, and ready to go into battle or flea as fast as possible. 

Once the threat passed, your brain would have released hormones to return you to a place of relaxation. This is called acute stress. The more acute stress scenarios you found yourself in, the better you would be at getting 'stressed' and then relaxed. 
However, Today's Stress Is A Different Animal
Today, the most common type of stress isn't acute stress. It's chronic stress. Our biggest worry isn't surviving a confrontation with a rival tribe or wild animal; it's living up to what other people think of us, a worry that can last a lifetime.

This is a significant issue because our stress response went from an intrinsic value (something we control) to extrinsic (what do x, y, and z think of me? Do I have status in their eyes? How do I measure up in general?) As discussed in this article, extrinsic values are poison for your mental wellbeing because they're based on other people's actions and opinions. You have no control over them.

If subconsciously you feel you're not living up to other people's (or society's) expectations, your body will consider you to be in danger. To help you cope, it will release a steady stream of stress hormones until the threat passes. The problem is, feeling like you're not enough, that you're not doing as well as you should can last indefinitely. Meaning your body continues to release stress hormones and adds to the anxiety you already have.

This isn't the only thing causing a constant stream of stress hormones. The way we live today is wildly different from what our brain has evolved around. We are no longer born into a supportive tribe that gives us our purpose in life and helps us grow from day 1. We're now expected to go out into the world alone and achieve 'success'. 

We are disconnected from our human psychological needs. Psychologically we feel less safe (we no longer live amongst others in a close-knit tribe), less significant (we're surrounded by images of more attractive, wealthier, and healthier people) and less loved (we live alone or in small stressed-out families).

When you peel back the layers of human beings, it's no wonder we feel anxious.
The Physiological Adaptations
Imagine you are sitting in your car at a stoplight. The light turns green, you put your foot on the gas, but the car moves forward very slowly. What's your default response?

You put your foot down more, right?

This is the same response your brain has when you're under stress and aren't overcoming it. Chronic stress causes your brain to change its physical structure to increase its stress-producing abilities.

Again, this may seem completely counterintuitive. However, as far as your brain is concerned, when you think about the job you hate, the relationship which has gone wrong, the expectations you can't meet, it believes you're in danger.

These micro-changes add up, and before you know it, your brain releases so much stress hormone and so little of the relaxation hormones you're constantly on edge. You can't think clearly, you can't sleep, you can't even digest your food properly because your body is in panic mode.

And remember, your brain IS NOT designed to make you happy. It is designed to keep you alive. There's no time to sleep when your life is on the line.
An Anxious Brain
If you have tried the typical advice of keeping a positive attitude, sleeping more, or exercising and found these have had no real impact, it's not your fault.

They work well in people who don't have chronic anxiety but instead have a test coming up, an important presentation, a big event. If you have experienced anxiety for a long time or have had a significant emotional experience cause your anxiety, you need different tools.

Understand that your brain has adapted to the experiences in your past. As a result, you are not only more sensitive to stressful experiences, but when something does happen, your body releases a much more considerable amount of stress than the average person.

It's nothing you have done, and it is tough to get a handle on when it does happen. But, by having clarity about what needs to be improved, you're in a much better positive to do so.

If you know someone living with anxiety (and pretty much all mood disorders), understand that everyone's body automatically reacts in a certain way when confronted with stressful events. An experience that triggers a stress level 2 for you may trigger something comparable to a stress level 8 in them. Neither of you consciously chose the response. It happened automatically. But they're now having to deal with a body that is in a state of panic.
The Next Step
Reversing this adaptation isn't as easy as getting more sleep, but it is easier than you might imagine. The most significant components are using the correct exercises to diminish the thoughts, feelings, and emotions created from these adaptations and time. 

There is also an article titled: 'If I Started Suffering Daily Anxiety Again, This Is Exactly How I Would Overcome It As Fast As Possible.' This outlines the precise areas I would focus on to significantly improve my mental wellbeing in both the short and long terms.

However, if you are done reading and are ready to start taking steps to overcome your anxiety, I recommend looking at the free webclass. As part of the webclass, I will share the exact steps I take clients through to help them overcome their anxiety.
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Need help? help@mentalx.com

Need help? help@mentalx.com

Copyright 2022. All rights reserved.