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Understanding Anxiety

For some people, experiencing chronic and persistent anxiety is obvious while for others being able to identify and label their experience as anxiety is more elusive. For those in the later anxiety is often felt as a nagging feeling of discontent, ‘feeling off’ or frequent worry. Eitherway when left to its own devices anxiety can quickly decrease our feelings of wellbeing and quality of life.

Anxiety, at its core, is a fundamental function of the nervous system, a primal response wired into our biology as a mechanism to alert us to potential dangers and prepare our bodies to either face the threat or escape from it. This "fight or flight" response, governed by our sympathetic nervous system, is designed to ensure survival by heightening our senses and readiness—elevating heart rate, sharpening alertness, and increasing blood flow to essential muscles. While this system is crucial for navigating threats, in the modern world, it often activates in situations where there is no physical danger, leading to feelings of unease, apprehension, or fear that are both intense and persistent. This can lead to the question of what inner beliefs do we have that our mind and body are interpreting ordinary non threatening events as something that requires an intense activation of our nervous system?


Anxiety never comes from whats outside of you, it comes from within you. Fear on the other hand may come from something outside of you. This is a crucial difference.


When we really pay attention we can begin to notice the characteristics of our personal manifestation of anxiety. We may also notice that these symptoms exist on a spectrum from mild to severe. That is not to say that mild symptoms are by any means pleasant or tolerable.


Anxiety Symptoms

Mild Anxiety Symptoms

  • Nervousness: Feeling uneasy or restless.

  • Increased heart rate: Mildly elevated, but not overpowering.

  • Slight irritability

  • Difficulty concentrating: Minor challenges in focusing on tasks.

  • Disturbed sleep: Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, but not severely impacting daily function.

Moderate Anxiety Symptoms

  • Persistent worry: Frequent excessive concerns about everyday matters.

  • Muscle tension: Noticeable discomfort or aches in the muscles.

  • Fatigue: Feeling tired more often than not, affecting daily activities.

  • Gastrointestinal issues: Such as occasional stomach upset, nausea.

  • Increased irritability: More pronounced and frequent.

Severe Anxiety Symptoms

  • Constant feelings of dread or impending doom

  • Panic attacks: Sudden, intense periods of fear or discomfort emerging within minutes.

  • Avoidance of social situations: Due to overwhelming fear or discomfort.

  • Significant trouble with daily activities: Including work, relationships, and social interactions.

  • Physical symptoms: Such as severe muscle tension, debilitating fatigue, and major sleep disturbances.

When our nervous system is completely overwhelmed we may experience a panic attack or sometimes called an anxiety attack.

Below are ways in which to identify a panic attack:

  • Intense fear or discomfort: Peaks within minutes.

  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate

  • Sweating, trembling or shaking

  • Shortness of breath or sensations of smothering

  • Feelings of choking

  • Chest pain or discomfort

  • Nausea or abdominal distress

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or faintness

  • Chills or heat sensations

  • Paresthesia (numbness or tingling sensations)

  • Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)

  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy”

  • Fear of dying


It is instinctual to want to move away from the experience of anxiety, to make it go away. While it may seem like a paradox this reaction often reinforces the symptoms.  In healing anxiety there are safe and compassionate ways to begin to ease your discomfort and to create a corrective emotional experience. This is done by practicing moving toward it, by inquiring and by being curious. Also we must recognize that in the moment when we are  in distress we want to be able to cope with it. Learning to activate the calming parasympathetic nervous system is important to treatment.

Our Treatment Approach:

  1. Mindfulness and Awareness: You will be encouraged to develop a deeper awareness of your emotional states and bodily sensations, recognizing the triggers and bodily responses associated with your anxiety.

  2. Stress Reduction Techniques: Techniques such as breath work, mindfulness meditation, or yoga might be recommended to help manage physiological symptoms of stress and anxiety.

  3. Comprehensive Understanding: Exploring all factors contributing to anxiety, such as emotional stress, physical health, social interactions, and past traumas.

  4. Resourcing: Develop resources within their body that provide comfort and calm, helping them to manage anxiety symptoms more effectively when they arise.

  5. Body Awareness Exercises:  Learn to identify and connect with physical sensations in your body.. Therapists may use guided exercises to help you notice where you hold tension, memories  and anxiety in their body.

  6. Integration of Mind and Body: Guidance to understand how thoughts affect your physical body and how your bodily state can influence your mental health.

Are you ready to take a step towards recovery?

If so, we offer a free 15 minute consultation to see if we're the right fit for you!!

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