Sadly anxiety has become the number one Mental Health issue in North America. It is estimated that one third of the American adult population experiences anxiety in their life - National Institute of Mental Health. To put this in perspective: these numbers are similar to the obesity statistics of 2011-2012. So what is anxiety really, why has it become such a big issue and more importantly what can be done about it?
We all experience anxiety in our lives at one point or another. Occasional anxiety is quite acceptable and a normal part of life. We may be anxious when interviewing for a job, while awaiting test results, when in a life threatening situation or having to make an important decision.
Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease typically about an event in the past or the future. Feelings and the degree of worry can vary quite a bit depending on the individual can't they? I am sure you can think of at least one person in your life that is overwhelmed, stressed out, nervous or shall we say anxious? On the other hand very likely you also know of a different kind of person, you know the one I am referring to; the one that seems to handle it all, juggling a career, school, kids, ... and is just a ball of life and energy no matter what happens. How can that be? They both have eyes, a nose, lungs, a heart and a mind.
AAAHHH the mind. Even though the anatomy is similar, the way it is used may be different. We are on to something here, can you sense it?
Most of us have this notion that the mind can be divided into the conscious and subconscious part. Most of us are also aware that the subconscious part is the biggest engine of the two. The one that drives your behavior,thoughts and therefore feelings. Compare it to your computer's programming. This program of yours has a very simple yet effective mechanism in place. We use different words for it, some of them may be familiar, they all are referring to the same: the fight-flight response, sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous system or our basic instinct for survival.
What does this have to do with anxiety? Thank you for asking, we are getting to the nitty gritty here.
Play a game with me
What happens to your body and your emotions when you find yourself in a situation that is uncomfortable, makes you nervous or let's go big: life threatening. Perhaps a speech you're about to give, the boss called you in her/his office, the doctor really wanted to speak with you, a partner that couldn't talk to you on the phone but had to see you in person?
- sweaty palms - panic
- queasy stomach - expecting the worst
- heart starts beating faster - feeling worried
- breathing shifts - muscle tension
- worse case scenario's seem to always win - feeling drained
Let's keep playing; what are some of the symptoms associated with anxiety? What are some of the bodily reactions when we feel threatened or in danger? YES!! similar to the above. This means we can conclude that non life threatening situations are also activating our basic instinct for survival. See our mind doesn't know the difference between reality and fantasy. Movies aren't real, they are a projection of images, yet we respond to them with our emotions, we laugh, cry, get scared or if it's a bad movie we may yawn. The movies we decide to play in our head, based on a past or future event, trigger the same program. WOW! so it IS all about the mind.
So when do we need to step in? When the same bodily reactions get triggered on a daily or weekly basis by situations that are just a part of everyday life and not an occasional situation or life threatening emergency... or when these moments become debilitating, preventing you from moving forward; I would conclude it is time to take action.
We are living in a society that has us run too much software at the same time, literally! Smart phones from dusk till dawn, news, videos, more people living close together than ever before, more cars, more traffic, more pressure, more and more things we need to know just to keep up with everything and everybody around us. BUT we are still relying on the same basic programming to deal with this excess of information. We sleep less, absorb more, or at least try to, and we forget to reset our computer once in a while to ensure it keeps running efficiently and easily. We can not allow it to overheat you see.
A simple way to change these behaviors, to increase your tolerance to stress and to get to a better feeling place is hypnosis. In my hypnotherapy practice and experience with clients it has become apparent that hypnosis is a very effective tool to reset that computer of yours. To access your programming and run a few updates.
When was the last time you updated your smart phone? Chances are somewhere within the past year. When was the last time you updated your subconscious mind? In hypnosis we can adjust your subconscious programming to only trigger the fight-flight response how it was intended and not on a daily or weekly basis. Hypnosis in itself is a reset button to your computer and allows it a break, to cool down and restart better than ever before.
In my sessions for anxiety relief I also provide tools, software if you will, that can be accessed during the conscious state and provide a calm, focused and efficient state. Who doesn't want more of that in their life? Independence is truly just a decision away. Which button are you going to hit?