So last weeks blog, we talked about the two ways that our brain produces anxiety; the first being the prefrontal cortex and the second one being the amygdala. So how do you stop anxiety from affecting your life any further? Well first we must understand where it comes from.
First, let's talk about the prefrontal cortex. According to Catherine M Pittman, Ph.D., and Elizabeth M Karle, MLIS in Rewire the Anxious Brain, they state that there are two ways that the cortex can produce anxiety.
The first is with processing sensory information, meaning our sight and sounds. For example, say you are waiting to hear back from a company about a new job and you see in your inbox an email from said company. Instead of being excited, you might start to feel anxious upon seeing the email and saying to yourself “I bet I was not good enough to get the job”. Voila, your excitement comes to a full stop, and instead, you have anxiety.
The second way is where we have received no external stimulation but instead focused on our own thoughts and ruminations. Imagine you are a new parent and you and your partner have decided to go out to dinner. It is the first time you have left your child with a babysitter and you are both sitting and having fun when all of a sudden you stop and imagine your child for crying in their crib uncared for. And just like that, voila you stop enjoying your night and feel anxiety.
Now the problem with our thoughts is that, we all have a tendency to believe them. If your partner is home late from work, then they must have been in an accident, right? This type of belief in our own thoughts is what we call cognitive fusion. For example, if we believe that we will panic when we go into a store, then we will avoid that store. According to Catherine M Pittman, Ph.D. and Elizabeth M Karle, MLIS confusing a thought as reality is due to the prefrontal cortex’s tendency to believe it processes the real meaning of every thought, sensation, meaning and emotion. But watch out, because the cortex is prone to misinterpretation and errors stop anxiety.
ow onto the amygdala. We have all experienced our fight, flight or freeze response, although we may not have realized it. Experienced a near car accident? Your amygdala was likely activated. Had to speak in front of a group of people, climb up a ladder or see a spider? Yes your amygdala probably lit up. When our amygdala activates us, we sometimes experience an increased heartbeat for no reason, or sweat without exerting ourselves. At this point it's tough to stop anxiety. Do you feel dizzy or not able to breathe properly? Does your mind go blank, are you having a difficult time concentrating, or feeling paralyzed? These are all indications that your amygdala is being activated and the result is that you are experiencing anxiety.
So throughout this week. If you suffer from anxiety and are trying to stop, I want you to think about how you experience anxiety. Reflect on them, so next week and in the following weeks you'll be primed to find out how to rewire the brain.
If you're in Jupiter or elsewhere in sunny Palm Beach County, visit Clarity Health Solutions in person to help put this knowledge into action. We offer telehealth services as well though, so you can reach us from anywhere in Florida. If you would like help integrating this knowledge into your life to stop anxiety, we can help. So book your appointment today. to get started