Stress and anxiety have the exact same effects on the body. The Autonomic nervous system goes into sympathetic mode – that is fight/flight mode – and prepares your body to either fight its opponent or run from it. In order to do that your heart rate increases to move blood around the body quicker, your pupils dilate so you can take in more information, adrenaline and cortisol are pumped around the body to give you the energy you need, your arms and legs are prioritized over internal organs, and the reasoning part of the brain gets a reduced blood flow.
When you are in fight/flight mode you only need to fight or run. You don’t need to digest well, repair cells or think clearly. Remember, this is your body keeping you alive.
This tends to lead to tummy trouble, such as IBS – but not always as extreme as that, might be low key tummy stuff, feeling a bit sick or constipated. Skin issues, eczema, psoriasis and such like tend to flare up under stress – the skin doesn’t get as much oxygenated blood to it, the muscles are prioritized. Brain fog, lack of concentration, forgetfulness and other cognitive issues are common.
All this combined can feel overwhelming, especially if we don’t consider it to be a natural bodily response to the situation we are in (or perceive we are in). It’s easy to conclude there is something wrong with us.
How is stress different to anxiety?
This is how I think about it – stress comes from the outside. There is something actually going on in our lives that we feel threatened by (maybe not physically threatened, it may be a threat to our financial security, or a threat to our relationships or our sense of self.) If that situation was resolved or you were removed from it, stress would be gone with it.
Anxiety comes from the inside – it’s the thoughts, feelings and beliefs we have about a situation. How we think it’ll work out. What we imagine other people are thinking. What if’s. This can carry on even if the situation is resolved or we are removed from it.
They do tend to go hand in hand, but it’s also possible to have one without the other.
How to deal with it.
First thing to do is notice it is happening and give yourself an advantage of getting your nervous system back into rest and repair (parasympathetic mode) as often as you can. Take control of your breathing, focus on your physical posture, get into nature, bring your attention to the present moment.
There are more techniques in the preview of my workshop – you can find it here.
When your body is in this more relaxed mode you’ll be able to think more clearly and you’ll be able to make better decisions about how to handle what’s going on.
In those moments where you feel like the world is spinning out of control, and you have everything in front of you and you absolutely cannot stop even for a moment, that is the time you need to stop the most. Take 5 minutes, have a cup of tea and come back to whatever it is. You’ll handle it better, I promise.
Anxiety affects everyone in different ways. Whether its general anxiety, phobias, addictions, habits, weight issues or anything else you do it your own way. So, it stands to reason that the solution should be as individual as you are. I use a range of techniques, such as Hypnosis/Hypnotherapy, Life Coaching, EFT, Reiki and many other tools I’ve picked up along the way to work with YOU to find the best fit. We can work online from the comfort of your own home, or you can arrange to come to my private therapy room near Carlisle, Cumbria.