Updated: Jul 3, 2019
Anxiety developed for a good evolutionary reason, if we go into an unfamiliar situation, or one that might be dangerous, it’s wise to be extremely careful and ready to deal with whatever might happen.
Our unconscious mind has two roles:
1. To keep us alive
2. To reduce our anxiety
However they are in this order and therefore if our unconscious mind has a belief that the anxiety will keep us safe, then it will create anxiety.
Anxiety makes us ‘hyper-vigilant’, in other words we are super-sensitive to changes around us, especially noises and movement, this means we are more likely to detect a threat or predator if there is one around and we can bring about a ‘stress response’ quickly to help us avoid it or protect ourselves.
In short bursts and appropriate circumstances, anxiety is a survival strategy. However, in inappropriate circumstances or experienced consistently over long periods of time, it ceases to be a beneficial process and begins to erode our physical and emotional health and well-being.
Most of the stresses faced by our primitive ancestors were short, sharp shocks: the sort of danger that occurs if a predator attacks or a rock fall happens. To survive, they either had to be able to escape as quickly as possible or to fight off the threat.
Over time they evolved what we now refer to as ‘the stress response’ or otherwise known as ‘fight or flight’, to help them to do this.
This reaction is still a part of us; in times of stress, our bodies release stress hormones which make physical changes in the way our bodies operate. The stress response triggers the release of chemicals called catecholamines; these include hormones like adrenaline and cortisol which affect many different systems within the body:
The Short-term Effects of Stress:
Digestion of sugars – To get as much sugar into the blood as possible to give a surge of energy
Heart rate and blood pressure – To get as much blood pumping around the body as quickly as possible
Breathing rate – To get as much oxygen around the body as quickly as possible
Blood supply to muscles, especially in the arms & legs -the muscles required to either fight or flight
Blood clotting ability - To reduce lethal bleeding
Sensitivity to pain
Digestion (except sugars)
Blood supply to the skin
Blood supply to the ‘modern’ parts of the brain (language/logic/planning)
Immune system (protection from disease)
Essentially the hormones increase our energy levels, strength, speed and stamina so that we can run away or fight off a threat. This balance is ‘paid for’ by a reduction in efficiency in systems which do not have an impact on our immediate chances of survival. An encounter with a hungry tiger is unlikely to be protracted and therefore the changes caused by stress hormones have little or no adverse effect on our health or wellbeing if the body quickly returns to homeostasis.
The difficulty comes when we are under prolonged stress and the stress response never fully dies away.
Long- term exposure to catecholamines has a variety of consequences including:
high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
Because some catecholamines act as neurotransmitters in the brain, these substances can also alter cognition and other mental processes, leading to:
Lacking in Confidence
Hypnotherapy can help you to find the initial, and any subsequent, causes of your anxiety and seek out new ways of managing and dealing with it. If you would like to undertake some hypnotherapy to help you to make the changes that you want to make, so that you can live the life that you want to live, please contact me.