Anxiety - what can i do about it?

What can we do about it?

So how can we utilise the value of experiencing anxiety in the moments it’s actually needed, instead of allowing this process to become a debilitating ruler, who dictates our everyday decisions and behaviour?

I personally believe, supported by scientific endeavour that the answer is to change our state – to a state of happiness.

While there are many treatments out there and the path back to recovery requires a multi-pronged approach, it is with my experience that one of the most effective tools is writing and also coming to the understanding that we can choose to re-wire our brains to be happy.  My greatest breakthrough for my own recovery was to learn that I had tuned into my own negative propaganda and was feeding the same narrative to my anxiety goblin over and over again.  For some individuals, they believe the external world is a predictor of our happiness levels and thus the belief is held that our anxiety is a reactive response to our environment.  In reality, if I knew everything about your external world, I could only predict 10% of your long term happiness.  90% of your long term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world.

So how do we re-wire our brains so that we perceive the world as less threatening, whilst also raising our happiness levels – making us more able to cope with an unpredictable world and more than that, to actually thrive in it?

Below is a proven method by a world renowned positive Psychologist, Shawn Achor, which has been used effectively by both schools and businesses to increase happiness; encouraging tremendous results in efficiency, test scores and general well-being:

• 3 New Gratitudes – Helps your brain to retain the pattern of scanning the world for the positive first.

• 1 Random act of kindness enforces us to believe that we are part of a social collective, our actions matter and we are connected – dispelling the myth that we are isolated and disconnected from others;  Something  that I used to feel on a daily basis.

• Journaling – One positive thing that has happened over the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it.

• Physical outlet – Exercise teaches your brain that your behaviour matters.

• Meditation – Allows your brain to recover from the cultural ADHD that we have created and helps us to focus on the task at hand.

Having used this method in tandem with creative writing techniques myself I have found it to be an essential tool in reducing  my anxiety levels significantly, but not only that, I’m more than just managing my routines – I have even taken steps to break them by trying new things and when I have a bad day, it doesn’t set me back into a depression.  Seeing such a dramatic shift in my attitude and happiness levels has inspired me to impart this method to other people, who also face great difficulty in managing their anxiety.  This is how ‘May Contain Nuts’ was born.

I believe that once a person has gained knowledge and insight, it is a person’s duty to share and teach what they have learned.  Buddhism teaches us that life is suffering.  Therefore, having researched meticulously my own suffering, I have now acquired effective tools and wisdom to share amongst others who have struggled in the same vain.  It may be inevitable that throughout our lives we will come to know suffering, but there are methods we can utilise to manage how we react to our suffering.  It is my greatest ambition to bestow some small relief for individuals with mental health issues and I believe that this can be eased through the discovery, the joy, the stillness, the freedom that writing brings.

Written by Imojinn

 

What is the fight, flight or freeze response?

What is the fight, flight or freeze response?

The animal kingdom and human beings have evolved ways to help us protect ourselves from danger.  When we feel under threat our bodies react by releasing certain hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.  These hormones:

• Make us feel more alert, so we can act quickly – our senses are heightened to respond to any sudden noises or movements. 

• Make our hearts beat faster, quickly sending blood to where it’s needed most – most likely our muscles, perhaps to escape an attacker, make an important decision that’s potentially life or death.

After we feel the threat has passed, our bodies release other hormones to help our muscles relax.  This can sometimes cause us to shake.

Written by Imojinn

 

What is anxiety?

What is anxiety?

The definition of anxiety according to the Oxford dictionary is: ‘A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.’– Particularly associated with things that might just happen, or which we think could potentially happen in some distantly vague future; what’s interesting is that everyone at some stage will experience anxiety.  Two separate people, as an example, unbeknownst to each other both have a gig booked for an event.  Both experience the same apprehension before they enter the stage, but where one, who experiences anxiety negatively and is overwhelmed, runs away, fleeing the scene entirely, the other uses this anxiety positively as fuel to pump them up and continues to perform their set list.  Anxiety is part and parcel of being human and is a natural response when we perceive that we are under threat.  It can be experienced through our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations and manifest through trigger responses; Fight, flight or freeze.

Written by Imojinn

Mental Health and me

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What does anxiety mean to me?

By Imoginn

Anxiety for me, is that moment where I feel caught off guard by something or someone I perceive as a disruption to my routine, which then makes me feel powerless to control the situation and my reaction to it.  If overwhelmed by my perceived fear, my immediate reaction is to escape by any means necessary, but if I can’t escape I fall into a meltdown.  Oftentimes this occurs when I am on a moving train or a seated passenger in a car, or a work meeting; situations where it would be difficult to manoeuvre out or to find an exit when I’m in the throes of an anxiety attack.  My safety net has often been to find a toilet so that I can calm myself down, but when this is not accessible, this too can exacerbate my panic.

If this occurs enough times in a day or a week, I slip into a comfortable state of depression.  I say a comfortable state of depression because compared to the extent of my anxiety attacks, depression is easy.  I can stay in my bedroom, pull the duvet over my head and just be miserable, rather than face the world of ‘what ifs?’  What if my train doesn’t arrive on time?  What if I get on the train and a rush of people come in and I panic and can’t access the toilet?  The list of questions goes on and would rapidly be succeeded by a tyranny of negative statements, which circulate continuously on a repeated time loop.  Leaving the house is no small feat.  

Recovery back to a functional human being has been a long road and the healing process is still ongoing, but I am happy to say that I am better able to manage my life and I now see my struggles and internal suffering as a blessing in disguise – not something I ever would have said a few years back.  I now see it as a friend who alerts me to my inner narrative.  What thoughts lead me to believe that I have something to fear from this situation or individual?  I would be lying if I said that I can handle every moment I fall prey to the anxiety goblin, but I am able to function in a dysfunctional society.  It’s really quite simple how this happened for me – I began to write poetry.

Written by Imojinn