Starting a new job, the first day of school, meeting new people, taking a test, or giving a presentation can cause anxiety. Anxiety is a normal reaction to life events. It is a feeling of fear about what is to come. It is our body’s natural reaction to stressful events and situations. Typically, it comes and goes depending on the events, but generally does not interfere with our ability to function on a daily basis.
Historically, anxiety served a purpose as it alerted us to any danger in our environment and helped our bodies to either fight, run away (flight) or remain still (freeze). For example, it prepares our bodies to react when we are faced with a tiger or big brown bear. Essentially anxiety helps with self preservation and keeps us from harm. It’s the body’s natural reaction to dangerous situations.
We know that some people may be predisposed to anxiety. As well, certain thoughts, situations, and events, including traumatic experiences can make anxiety overwhelming and quite intense. Certain triggers can cause anxiety. In these situations, anxiety becomes a problem because we are NOT in real and immediate danger but our brain is signaling that we are. And because of anxiety we are unable to function in our everyday life.
When anxiety is high and takes hold, it prevents us from doing certain activities or tasks. We may avoid certain things like taking an elevator, taking an airplane, going to school or even leaving your home. In such cases, anxiety no longer serves a protective function and can be quite debilitating.
Understanding why we feel anxious as well as understanding our body’s physiological response to stress is often the first step towards treating anxiety. This excellent video, produced by Anxiety Canada, explains the underlying basis of anxiety. I hope you find it helpful. For further information or treatment of anxiety, please feel free to contact me.