Anxiety’s cycle

Some anxieties are very distressing and they can take on affects that severely hamper our participating in life. The person experiencing the anxiety can feel like they have no control over how they are feeling or behaving. This blog piece will further develop the component elements of anxiety, how they impact each other and how we may challenge it’s effect.

Anxiety is a response to threat. Therefore we must ascertain if the threat is legitimate or not, as our bodies have interpreted it as such and reacted accordingly. For some this understanding greatly helps ease the ancillary anxiety about the anxiety.
There is an interconnectedness between the components in the anxiety cycle-we sustain our anxiety by how our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and behaviours interact with each other. When we speak of anxiety, we allude to a cycle, one that has a very deliberate arc and along that cycle there are opportunities to tune into what is happening to us.

The cycle:
There is an inner movement from an event/situation/thought to ————- interpretation of that event/situation/thought to———- physical, behavioural and emotional reaction which———-heightens the intensity of the thought, which—–leads to escalation of the physical, behavioural and emotional reactions which ————–’confirm’ our initial interpretive stance.

This is a tangible cycle, once there is an effort to break down each of the components, a marked and noticeable shift occurs in the person’s experience of the anxiety. It demystifies what happens and readily displays the cognitive distortions that not only trigger the experience but also underlie the sustainability of it.

When one is overcome with an acute anxiety experience, it may feel like it is never going to end in that moment; however, if one reflects on the trajectory of the anxiety there is a definite beginning and end to the whole event. I have found in my practice that some may feel it more beneficial to come face to face with the elements of anxiety with someone as it may seem too overwhelming to address on their own. Some also believe that by devoting time to considering anxiety that it will precipitate an anxious event, which is understandable, but if not proven then is just another contributor to sustaining the anxiety.

For some just knowing that there is a cycle and that the body is genuinely responding to what it perceives as a threat, can be of great relief. It can actually contribute to a lessening of the symptoms. The anxiety may still remain and aligned to this is the underlying cause of the appearance of debilitating anxiety, which is usually associated with what we believe about ourselves. This core belief drives the initial interpretation of the situation/thought/event that triggers an anxious episode.

I will look at the nature of underlying causes in the next blog piece.

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