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What is Anxiety and where does it come from?

PEACE with Anxiety Podcast Episode 1

Ep 1: What is Anxiety and where does it come from?

Welcome to the first episode of the PEACE with Anxiety Podcast, where I set the stage for a transformative exploration of anxiety's true nature. In this enlightening discussion, discover a paradigm shift that reframes anxiety not as a disorder but as a natural response to life's challenges. I discuss the physiological symptoms, biological responses, and common questions surrounding anxiety. Embrace a new perspective that acknowledges anxiety as a survival mechanism, not a deviation from the norm. This episode promises a journey of self-discovery, resilience-building, and understanding, paving the way for peace and confidence amidst life's natural responses. Tune in, be present, and remember you're not alone on this path toward peace with anxiety.

 

Listen as I talk about:

  • Reframing Anxiety

  • Commonality of Anxiety

  • Biological Response to Anxiety

  • Impact of Environment

  • Paradigm Shift

  • Embracing Anxiety


Click play to listen below:



What does Reframing Anxiety mean?

When you start seeing anxiety not through the lens of a disorder, but just as a natural human response to a distressing experience or event.


Because anxiety is simply our body's natural signal to potential threats or dangers, it alerts us to be prepared, respond and protect ourselves.


How Common is Anxiety?

There isn't a one-size-fits-all experience with anxiety. Anxiety exists on a spectrum, and it is more common than you think. Everyday events such as work/school presentations, social events e.g. weddings or family dinners, financial situations, or even family relations can create anxiety.


What are the Biological Responses to Anxiety

  • racing or pounding heartbeat,

  • sweating,

  • changes in your body temperature, so you might feel cold, dizzy,

  • feeling a sense of doom or terror,

  • chest pain and tightness,

  • throat tightness,

  • tingling/numbness in your arms and legs,

  • muscle spasms,

  • changes in breathing,

  • palpitation,

  • blurred vision,

  • distorted hearing and weakness.

An external situation or event or a person can trigger anxiety responses such as the above. However, internally, thoughts or feelings such as self-doubt, perfectionism, or even unresolved past traumatic experiences can trigger anxiety.


What happens when anxiety gets triggered?


It's all about the brain and body preparing for a fight-or-flight response. When triggered, your brain releases epinephrine and cortisol into your bloodstream. When these chemicals are released into the body, they constrict the blood vessels, preparing your body for heightened awareness. Your airways open up, allowing for increased oxygen intake, muscles tense in preparation for action, pupils dilate to enhance vision, and your heart rate undergoes a dynamic shift.


What is the Impact of the Environment?

Our environment is anxiety-inducing it is not you. You are not your anxiety, You are so much more than your anxiety. There is nothing wrong with you! Everyone living in this environment is vulnerable to anxiety. What you can do is learn to understand where they are coming from, building your resilience and growing your confidence in your ability to respond to these triggers.


It is important to learn how to separate yourself from the anxiety. And this will make sense if you think about the world you are currently living in. Everything around you can create anxiety. For example, many people struggle financially, many people are suffering, and with the massive rise of social media, we know what is happening everywhere at any time, we are exposed to so much more with images, and videos, and that can paint a very negative stressful and fearful experience of the world around us, and because as humans we tend to focus more on the negative news to ensure our survival we are constantly getting triggered by these events that happen on the other side of the world but tend to feel them as though we experience them in real life.


Another example is the pressure to achieve more sooner, to work more, for many of their workday starts before well before they go to work, (e.g. checking their emails the moment they wake up), or they continue to work after the end of the workday.

A final example is that may try to be everything to everyone, they always try to be more of everything and they might either isolate themselves to manage their never-ending responsibilities, or they spread themselves thin and leave no time for their personal well-being.


Paradigm Shift


Instead of framing anxiety as a malfunction or deviation from the norm, let's acknowledge it as a natural response that has evolved over time. It's a mechanism our minds have developed to cope with stressors. Let's not label these feelings as mental disorders. Instead, let's describe them as a common, natural response to life's challenges, a response that has a purpose and significance in our journey.


Anxiety, fears, and worries are not isolated disorders but are deeply connected to real-life, legitimate concerns. These concerns often stem from experiences or events, possibly distressing or traumatic, either on a personal or environmental level.


Embracing Anxiety

Your experiences are valid, and by embracing them, you can create a sense of peace and understanding within yourself. -Irene Evangelou

Need more anxiety support?


Apply for a 30-minute FREE Anxiety Relief Call to explore working with me as a private client https://www.ireneevangeloutherapy.com/free-anxiety-relief-call


Join our Facebook group!


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Full Transcript


Hello and welcome to the very first episode of "PEACE with Anxiety Podcast." I wanted to start with this episode today to set the tone of what this podcast is all about, and to help you understand what anxiety is and where it comes from.


The main message of this podcast is that anxiety doesn’t have to make you feel stuck or hold you back from living the life you want to live, doing the thing you love or dream of doing, or just being who you want to be. And I don’t want you to just learn you to manage your anxiety symptoms, You know you can learn to understand what anxiety is saying to you and learn the tools to help you move past it faster. I wish I could tell you that you won’t ever have to feel anxious again in your life, but that would not be realistic and wouldn’t serve you in the long term. And hopefully, after listening to this episode you will maybe change your perspective around your relationship with anxiety. 


So the first thing I wanted to encourage you to do, instead of viewing anxiety solely through the lens of disorders, I want you to be open to the idea that anxiety is a natural response to a distressing experience or event.


Okay, I am going to say that again, because it is really important. Anxiety is a natural response to a distressing experience or event.


All anxiety is, is our body's way of signalling potential threats or dangers, preparing us to respond and protect ourselves. Picture it as an internal alarm system that activates in the face of stressors. 


Now, anxiety is incredibly common, it always was and always will be. In fact, it's a universal human experience. We all feel anxious at times, and it is completely normal. Whether it's the anticipation of a big presentation or the nervousness before a social event, financial stress, or saying no to a family member, these are everyday instances of anxiety. However, what often complicates the experience is the fear of anxiety itself. The fear of anxiety can create a loop, where the worry about experiencing anxiety becomes a stressor in itself. You may fear the physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety, that lead to a heightened state of vigilance, which can, ironically, trigger more anxiety.


Another truth about anxiety is that it exists on a spectrum. What might be a normal level of anxiety for one person can be overwhelming for another. It's not a one-size-fits-all experience.


Some physiological symptoms of anxiety are a racing or pounding heartbeat, sweating, changes in your body temperature, so you might feel cold, dizzy, feeling a sense of doom or terror, chest pain and tightness, throat tightness, tingling/numbness in your arms and legs, muscle spasms, changes in breathing, palpitation, blurred vision, distorted hearing and weakness.


These symptoms are a direct response to the way our brains and bodies react to perceived risks or threats. Anxiety is triggered externally, by a stimulus in the environment or a person or an environment can make you feel anxious


Internally, anxiety is triggered by thoughts or feelings such as self-doubt, perfectionism, or even past traumatic experiences. Also bodily sensations like an elevated heartbeat after running or rushing.


So, what exactly happens when anxiety takes hold? It's all about the brain and body preparing for a fight-or-flight response. When triggered, your brain releases epinephrine and cortisol into your bloodstream. When these chemicals are released into the body, they constrict the blood vessels, preparing your body for heightened awareness. Your airways open up, allowing for increased oxygen intake, muscles tense in preparation for action, pupils dilate to enhance vision, and your heart rate undergoes a dynamic shift.


So have you ever asked yourself, where does anxiety come from? was I born with anxiety? Is it part of who I am? Am I just an anxious person? If you have worked with me or follow me on social media, then you know that the answer to this question is NO. You are not your anxiety, You are so much more than your anxiety. One of the things that I help my clients with is to actually help them learn how to separate themselves from their anxiety. And this makes sense if you think about the world we are currently living in. Everything around us is causing us anxiety. For example, many people struggle financially, many people are suffering, and with the massive rise of social media, we know what is happening everywhere at any time, we are exposed to so much more with images, and videos, and that can paint a very negative stressful and fearful experience of the world around us, and because as humans we tend to focus more on the negative news to ensure our survival we are constantly getting triggered by these events that happen on the other side of the world but tend to feel them as though we experience them in real life. Another example is the pressure to achieve more sooner, to work more, many of us have our workday hours start before we go to work, we wake up to check our emails, or we continue to work the work the end of the workday. We may try to be everything to everyone and we always try to be more of everything and we might either isolate ourselves to manage our never-ending responsibilities, or we spread ourselves thin and leave no time for ourselves.


Now if you are listening to this podcast, I am sure many of you can relate to this, and at times I certainly know I can. And when I am experiencing this I have to remind myself to pause take a breath and stay in the present moment and it is okay to leave something for the next day.


I hope now it makes sense that Our environment is anxiety-inducing it is not you. There is nothing wrong with you, everyone living in this environment is vulnerable to these triggers. and what we can do is learn to understand where they are coming from build your resilience and grow your confidence in your ability to respond to these triggers.


Now, here is one important thing to understand. at the core of anxiety, there is fear. When we're anxious, we're experiencing a spectrum of fear – from mild stress and worry to intense panic and even horror. You might be afraid of repeating past actions or trying to control what might happen in the future


What we're going to discuss in this podcast is a paradigm shift. Anxiety, fears, and worries are not isolated disorders but are deeply connected to real-life, legitimate concerns. These concerns often stem from experiences or events, possibly distressing or traumatic, either on a personal or environmental level.


So, Instead of framing anxiety as a malfunction or deviation from the norm, let's acknowledge it as a natural response that has evolved over time. It's a mechanism our minds have developed to cope with stressors. so from now on when we talk about anxiety in this podcast, we're not referring to psychiatric diagnoses like generalized anxiety disorder. We're not labelling these feelings as mental disorders. Instead, we're discussing a common, natural response to life's challenges, a response that has a purpose and significance in our journey.


So if there is only one thing you get away from this episode I hope it is that your experiences are valid, and by embracing them, you can create a sense of peace and understanding within yourself. 


I hope this episode empowers you with the understanding that what you're feeling is not a flaw or weakness. It's a part of being human, a testament to your resilience and adaptive nature. The symptoms you may experience are part of a sophisticated survival mechanism that has evolved over time to protect us from harm, and in future episodes, we'll continue to talk about the complexities of anxiety that align with this perspective, and share strategies and insights to help you find peace and confidence during these natural responses.


Until then, take a moment to be present, be kind to yourself, and find comfort in the knowledge that you're not alone on this journey.


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