Why do we feel anxiety and how does it turn into something disabling?

We have all experienced anxiety in our lives; at the physiological level, it presents as an accelerated heartbeat, sweating, restlessness, nausea, sleep problems, among other symptoms.

But what is that for ? What role does it play in our lives?

The reason for anxiety

Understanding how anxiety works is easier if we think of emotions as sensors that help us understand the environment, respond appropriately, and grow successfully. In this way, unpleasant emotions will invite us to change coursemove away from what provokes them or look for the error to make a new learning.

On the other hand, pleasant emotions tell us the direction to take and the things that give us pleasure/joy, so that we can repeat them in the future; they help us learn more about the behaviors, thoughts, and lifestyles that work for us. As we can see with this brief description of emotions, all are important for our optimal developmentincluding anxiety.

Anxiety is as valid and useful an emotion as any of the other emotions, it acts as a defensive mechanism. He warns us of dangeralerting our body, mobilizing us to react to danger, allowing us to adapt to the situation thanks to the fact that we have all the senses focused on it and increasing our performance in these circumstances.

This anxiety is what we might call adaptivebecause it makes it easier for us to adapt to the environment and bring out our full potential in certain situations of stress or danger.

The problem arises when this emotion appears without the danger itself being present, perceiving a priori innocuous situations as highly dangerous. It occurs when the mechanism by which it is activated is altered and it begins to activate disproportionately for the situation, sometimes which does not represent a real danger for the person and even paralyzes us, preventing us from being decisive and effective.

Possible causes

Many factors can predispose us to deregulate this mechanism. Among them are the following.

1. Biological factors

These they are more related to the functioning of our nervous system and the production of certain neurotransmitters which interact by activating this alert system.

2. Factors resulting from learning

At birth we are white paper and a lot of our behaviors, our ways of reacting, of understanding the world and our own emotions, and even of thinking, have a lot to do with what I learned in our environment . That’s why it makes sense that if our family tends to act anxious in any situation, we may develop the same vision of life and how to react to different stimuli.

3. Environmental factors

If I am in an environment where any conversation, behavior or situation can lead to conflict, it is normal for the anxiety system to be altered.

In these cases yes we have been in an environment that we perceive as dangerous for a long timewhether at the level of physical integrity as war or mental integrity as a toxic relationship, it is common for the chemistry of our brain to be altered and, in addition, that it stores a large number of anxious responses that we learned as useful after these experiences, increasing the number of times we will perceive a reality as dangerous and act from that vision.

What to do?

There are several ways to reduce anxiety when it arises, I invite you to practice some of them if you need it from home. Here are some examples you can put into practice:

  • Breathing techniques: these aim to reduce the rate of our breathing. For example, doing cycles in which you take in air for a count of 5, keep that air in for another 5 seconds, push it out for a count of five again, and let yourself go. your empty lungs for another 5 seconds. This is just one of many techniques you can use by focusing on the breath.

  • Grounding method, focusing our attention on everything around us and removing the stimulus that causes me anxiety from our center of attention.
  • Meditation.

However, in the long term if you suffer from daily anxiety the most effective is to go to therapywhere in addition to learning techniques that make it easier for you to overcome those times when anxiety is not adaptive, you can delve into the origin of this anxiety (at what point in my life I began to act like that, in which situations I felt this disproportionate danger without being adaptive, which situations led me to perceive them in this way, etc.) learn new ways of reacting to these situations which are much more adaptive and which allow us to enjoy our daily lives.

To achieve this, you can work from therapy on to gradually understand us better and promote permanent change over time.

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