The symptoms of anxiety and stress are similar: an increase in heart and breathing rate, a tendency to sweat more and concentrated blood flow to the limbs. These changes are brought about by stress and anxiety, usually exposure to worry or a physically threatening environment.
Stress or anxiety are terms that can sometimes be used interchangeably, yet while the symptoms are very similar, the key difference between the two is that stress can be long term (weeks, months or even years). While anxiety may be more short term in reaction to a perceived threat.
All in the mind
The brain does what it can to protect you in situations of apparent peril. This classic “fight or flight” call to action has evolved to deliver a rapid response to any perceived dangerous situations. However the brain also responds in the same way. Even when the situation does not appear to represent any danger.
You can experience this in a situation where you wake up late for work. Your mind processes the information, perhaps imaging yourself arriving late for work being scorned by your boss. This is a firm of self hypnosis (negative self hypnosis) and instantaneously your body, releases a flood of the hormone adrenaline. Causing you to go into overdrive as you fly around in preparation for leaving home.
The body can now be said to be in stress mode with all the attendant symptoms. It’s as if you really are under threat. Your breathing accelerates and your pulse quickens. Taking the analogy further, should you then realize that you have misread the alarm clock and in fact have plenty of time to get ready. Then brain will take the body out of this stress mode and your heart and breathing rate will return to normal.
Our system will respond in this way whether the threat is real or imagined, the mind causing these symptoms of stress and anxiety. The body will react in the same way whether the situation is a real physical threat, or less so, such as worry about a job interview or driving test.
What you focus on is important
Your brain will make you focus on the perceived threat should you find yourself in an anxious situation. This is to make you concentrate on the source of the threat and deliver more strength and energy that it believes you may need to survive. It does this in a number of ways:
• By raising the level of oxygen.
• Increasing the blood level to limbs to boost strength.
• Tightening blood vessels to allow more blood and oxygen to flow.
• Heightening senses to improve hearing, smell and sight.
• Focusing on an instinctual rather than rational mind response.
• Suspending all non-essential functioning.
The body can achieve great feats of strength and endurance once in this primed mode. Examples include instances of people carrying others great distances away from danger despite suffering major injuries such as a broken limb. And the activated body mode allowing doors to be opened that were considered too hard for one person to shift.
By bypassing of the rational mind to rely on instinct also results in brave — even foolhardy — actions. This could be the response of a person rushing into a burning building to rescue a child despite the high possibility of themselves losing their lives. Such is the bypassing of the rational mind that people may not have any memory of their courageous actions in this situation.
Worrying thoughts or an exposure to a perceived dangerous environment will result in the same “primed for action” symptoms in our body. Our brains ready us for action to protect us from the perceived threat.
However in doing so, people under stress or suffering from anxiety may feel the following symptoms:
• A feeling of being unable to cope with the situation.
• A desire to run away from the perceived threat.
• Inability to think things through rationally.
• A feeling of worthlessness.
• A worry that they will make a fool of themselves.
How to reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress
There are a number of ways that you learn how to deal with anxiety and reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Key among these is to change your perception of the situation you find yourself in. By changing your thoughts to a more realistic rational attitude you evoke the “relaxation response” response to calm yourself down. This again is a form of self-hypnosis (positive self hypnosis) that will relax and frame your response in a more considered and appropriate way.
Indeed learning how to relax is a crucial stage in how to deal with anxiety. Here self hypnosis and breathing techniques may be very helpful. By slowing your response to a calmer outlook, the chemical signals sent to the body will change, preventing the symptoms of anxiety and stress. The two can feel the same, and indeed have the same symptoms. But anxiety tends to be a series of negative thoughts and perceptions over a period of time that trigger the body’s defenses.
So what can we do to control anxiety?
Next time you feel under stress or anxious, try talking to yourself to calm yourself down, slow your breathing and convince yourself that you aren’t in any danger. Learning how to deal with anxiety will control the symptoms of anxiety which involves re-focusing your attention on calming thoughts and becoming aware of your body.
This will help reduce the chemical reaction that causes the body to respond. Use other relaxation techniques such as self hypnosis, positive thinking, time management, talking with friends and family, getting enough sleep, engaging in physical activity and even finding the humour in every situation.
While the body’s defence mechanisms are there to protect us from danger, it is the sometimes debilitating symptoms that can cause distress. By relaxing and breaking the effect of the reaction to the perceived threatening environment, your mind releases a calmer, less frenzied message to the body.
It does this by:
• Slowing down your heart rate.
• Lowering blood pressure.
• Slowing breathing.
• Reducing the heightened activity of stress hormones in the body.
• Increasing blood flow to major muscles
• Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
• Improving focus, concentration and mood.
• Reducing tiredness and feelings of frustration and anger.
Relaxing helps the mind cope with the situation, thereby boosting your confidence to handle any stressful situations.
Symptoms of anxiety are brought on by the same chemical reactions. Yet learning how to deal with anxiety can be managed by exercising powerful self hypnosis. One of the leaders in self hypnosis is Self Hypnosis Academy, where they teach you how to deal with anxiety using online self hypnosis courses to help you relax and maintain effective control of any situation.