Anxiety is very common. One in four of us will have an anxiety disorder in our life time. Anxiety is the number one health problem in women, and the second most common in men, with addiction coming first.
Anxiety has its uses. It teaches us to be cautious in potentially dangerous situations.
The trouble comes when our anxiety takes over in situations where it really isn’t helpful.
It can happen more and more frequently and last for longer and longer. Work, sleep and relationships can all suffer as a result.
Rapid breathing, an increased heartbeat, sweating, dizziness, muscle tension and feeling weak or tired can all be symptoms of anxiety.
So why do we get anxious?
There are a number of reasons why we may develop anxiety. Traumatic experiences in our past, a build up of stress over time, or chronic illness can lead to anxiety but often it is simply in our genes.
If we think about our ancestors this explains a lot. Those who worried about potential threats ran from them and survived, thus passing on their genes to us. Those who were more relaxed didn’t escape the threat when it was a reality and they really were in danger.
Thankfully we now generally find ourselves in safe environments, without the threats that our ancestors regularly faced. To enjoy the lighter side of life meditation and mindfulness can really help.
Those of us who worry have greater reactivity in the part of our brains called the amygdala, this is the part which triggers fear. Neuroscientists at Stanford University found that people who practised mindfulness meditation for 8 weeks were more able to turn down the reactivity of this area.
Researchers, from Harvard University, have found that mindfulness can actually physically reduce the number of neurons in the amygdala Once we learn to turn down the fear response all sorts of opportunities open up.
Extreme sports that we couldn’t contemplate before perhaps become possible and enjoyable. Situations at work that we found difficult to face become manageable and give us the opportunity to show our true potential. Phobias can be overcome. Training the brain really is the way forward.
Coming on a revitalise day can help you stop worrying and get the most out of life.