Anxiety is not a nice thing to have to live with. It can be caused by work related worries which are long term or by realising there is an oncoming car while crossing the road which is short term.Very often the trigger that sets off the fight or flight response has been set to a very sensitive level. In this case the anxiety is experienced at times that are inappropriate and detrimental.
A stressful situation can make the body react with the heart beating faster, sweating, tensing muscles and other physiological things that are unpleasant. This combination of bodily reactions is also known as the fight or flight response.
This is an evolutionary survival mechanism that enabled people to respond quickly to dangerous situations. In modern life the fight or flight response can be activated by stresses that are not life threatening and when this is happening long term it is not good for you.
When the fight or flight response is triggered the body reacts in a very specific way. First of all the area of the brain that deals with emotions sends a signal to the brain’s control room, the hypothalamus, this control room talks to the body through the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is split into the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system is like the body’s accelerator pedal, it sets off the fight or flight response so the body has a sudden surge of energy to respond to the perceived danger.
The parasympathetic nervous system is like the brake pedal, it brings on the ‘rest and digest’ response that helps the body calm down.
When the signal is sent from the brain’s control room it goes to the adrenal glands. At this point adrenaline is pumped into the blood stream, the heart beats faster and small parts of the lungs open to allow more oxygen to be processed by the body. This means more oxygen is going to the brain and the senses become sharper. At the same time the adrenaline prompts the release of blood sugar and fats which gives the body a boost of energy.
This all occurs so quickly that you may not have actually realised what is going on. This is why we can sometimes duck out of the way of a threat without thinking about it. If, when the rush of adrenaline dies down the threat is still there the body’s control room sends a signal to the adrenal glands to emit cortisol. This keeps the body on high alert.
As the danger diminishes the parasympathetic nervous system steps in and calms the body down. Cortisol can cause weight gain as it increases appetite and it boosts the storage of unused nutrients as fat. It should be noted that persistent surges of this sort can damage blood vessels and arteries which increases the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
The psychological effects of stress can be wide ranging. The body’s normal functions can be affected if the stress response is constantly being activated. This stress overload can affect your emotions, behaviour and perceptions. People can feel moody, irritable, agitated, overwhelmed and depressed.
Even though anxiety is a normal part of life it is not something that should be considered acceptable and efforts to decrease it are good for you in the short and long term. Finding positive ways to deal with stressand anxiety are essential as it is easy to fall into negative habits such as comfort eating and alcohol.
Anxiety can be effectively abolished using Hypnotherapy and NLP techniques. First of all we can work to manage the anxiety and then we can control the anxiety. When managing we can turn down the level of anxiety to what is appropriate for the given situation. When controlling the anxiety we can switch it off when it is inappropriate.