Why does anxiety happen? Last week we explored what anxiety is. What does it feel like to me? What does it feel like to you? Today we will delve into the WHY.
Like with lots of things, the answer to “why” depends on who you talk to: Central nervous system overload, an imbalance of chemicals in your brain, a deficiency or excess in your body’s energies, years of negative self-talk, a misfiring of signals in your brain, genetics…and it doesn’t stop there.
I believe anxiety has several reasons for being. For this post, I’m choosing three that correlate with VAMT’s focus on mind and body:
1. Nervous system overload
Your body’s natural alarm system gone haywire. Our sympathetic nervous system (or fight or flight response) is helpful when we need to wake up in the middle of the night because our fire alarm is going off. You tend to the hopefully non life-threatening situation, and that’s that. Life goes on. All is well and we are super happy that alarm went off to wake us up to douse the fire.
Now, imagine every night your fire alarm goes off, but there is no fire. Just every single night.
That would drive you nuts, right? This is what happens when we get stressed; Our alarm signals, even when there is no fire. Not super helpful.
Also, as humans, we need quiet. We need contemplation. We need meditation, gratitude, self-awareness, talk therapy, somatic therapy. The fire-alarm scenario only gets worse when we become detached from ourselves and drown in avoidance. It’s then like the alarm is going off but we avoid it at all costs by staying busy and making loud noises so we can’t hear it. When is the last time you took your shoes and socks off and felt the earth beneath your feet? How about the last time you sat in a room, alone, in silence, and listened to your own heartbeat?
For more on nervous system overload, read Why Zebras Don’t get Ulcers. Also, the guys at CrashCourse do a hilariously fantastic job at explaining just about anything, including our sympathetic nervous system.
2. Imbalance in the body’s energy
To simplify: Not enough yin, too much yang. In Chinese Medicine, yin is like your car’s cooling system, both physically and mentally. When we don’t have enough of it -among things like hot hands, feet and nights sweats- we start worrying and stressing out about the little stuff.
Also, with little yin, we have relatively more yang. As you can guess, yang is energy. It’s hot, it’s moving and full of life. These are great things, until they take over and cause panic, sweat and mania (fire alarms in the middle of the night with, you guessed it…no fire).
There are a lot more “phathologies” for anxiety in Chinese Medicine:
-Qi and blood stagnation/excess
-Qi and blood deficiency
These are Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theories and for the purposes of this blog, I won’t delve into them. However, if you are interested in learning more, please check out this link: yinandyanghouse.
3. Self-talk gone wrong
Does this sound familiar? “You are so stupid” “Why did you just say that?!” “You can’t seem to do anything right today.” “We better worry about every, single bad scenario and prepare for ALL of them.” If so, one-you’re definitely not alone. And two, you may want to take a look at the little voice in your head more closely.
We all have this voice. It’s our subconscious-our everyday thoughts and it starts in childhood. If we don’t pay attention to it, most likely it turns on us, becomes a poor message and will run our lives like a record player on repeat. This can go on for days, months, years or heaven forbid, an entire lifetime. It turns into background noise that we don’t even notice. We become our worst friend. You know that friend who’s always spewing negative thoughts, ideas and scenarios your way? Yeah-you end up hanging out with this friend every day and don’t even realize they are whispering horrid things into your ear from the moment you wake to the moment you fall asleep. Not. Fun.
For more on negative self-talk and how to turn it around, read this article written by Jennifer Nelson .
If you need immediate assistance, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline or Mental Health Hotline for free, confidential, 24 hr safe support. You can also reach out to us, to a friend or family member, to a therapist (Wellspring Group in New Brighton, MN), or a support group (NAMI, Open Door).
Thank you for stopping by this week. Come back next week for Anxiety Part 3: Who can help? We appreciate your interaction and would love to hear from you! Please comment bellow to continue the discussion. If you’d like to schedule an appointment, call us at 651-756-8525 or visit us at villageacupunctureandmassage.com.
Rachel was born and raised in St.Paul, MN, where she currently lives with her husband, Chris and Shih Zhu, Stewie. She graduated from Northwestern Health Sciences in 2017 with her Masters in Chinese Medicine. Rachel found Chinese medicine on a journey to understand and tend to her own anxiety and depression and now has a passion for helping others who experience a similar reality. She enjoys treating a wide variety of conditions and welcomes anyone looking for care.
Village Acupuncture and Massage | 651-756-8525