Does anxiety feel like such a dark and negative force because it’s actually a shadow of your light? How can something so seemingly negative also be so helpful? That’s the question that arises when you look at the research on anxiety. It can be helpful to think of your mind as having both a blue screen and green screen. The blue screen is filled with all these wonderful things, but they are just out of focus. You can see them, but they aren’t clear. They need that green screen filter to come into focus. This analogy works well because anxiety is this shadowy thing that impacts us in different ways depending on how we view it. Let’s take a look at what anxiety does to our bodies, minds, and souls...
The Body: Tension, Tightness, and Shaking
It turns out that people who are anxious are actually more likely to have muscle tension and muscle tightness. Remember, this isn’t just about feeling nervous. It’s about having actual physical symptoms that impact your body. These physical symptoms include a feeling of tension and tightness in your chest, shoulders, and neck. You might also notice that your hands are actually slightly more likely to shake when you are anxious. The interesting thing is that this physical symptom is actually tied to your mind. And, again, this is a good example of how anxiety can be helpful, yet not feel helpful at the same time. You see, when we are anxious, we are likely to also be a bit hyper-focused on our own thoughts and problems. We are so focused on “what’s wrong” that we hold onto these thoughts and feel tightness in our bodies. So, the very focus that we have on our problems and worries actually creates these physical symptoms in our bodies.
The Mind: Overthinking and Trouble Concentrating
Next, let’s explore how anxiety affects your mind. When you are anxious, you may notice that you are actually more likely to overthink and get stuck in ruminations. Anxiety can be seen as a heightened state of worry, and it can cause you to overthink things that aren’t helpful. Cognition is actually one of the most researched topics when it comes to anxiety. Anxiety has been shown to actually have a cognitive impact. Anxiety can actually impact the way that you think. When people are anxious, they are actually less likely to concentrate. They have trouble focusing on important tasks and directions in the moment. They are far more likely to get stuck on things that are unhelpful for the moment. This is because our “executive function” actually decreases when we are anxious. This is the part of our brains that helps us to remember what is important and what isn’t. But when we are anxious, this part of our brain actually shuts down a little bit.
The Soul: A Sense of Urgency and Importance
Now, let’s talk about the soul impacts of anxiety. Anxiety can actually lead to an increased sense of urgency and importance. Anxiety can make you feel like everything is more serious than it actually is. We have all heard the expression, “sweating the small stuff.” Anxiety can actually cause you to sweat the small stuff. You might find yourself worrying about things that really don’t matter. You may find yourself feeling an increased sense of urgency towards everything. This is because anxiety is actually a sense of urgency and importance. This heightened sense of urgency and importance can actually cause you to overwork. You may find yourself overworking and taking on too much because you feel like you need to do everything now. Anxiety can also cause you to feel like everything is a big deal, even if it isn’t.
Helping Strategies for Anxiety
Now, let’s talk about how we can help combat anxiety. The first thing to remember is that anxiety, although an uncomfortable feeling, isn’t actually bad. It’s actually just a heightened state of focus and attention. We can actually use anxiety to our advantage. We just need to learn how to shift our focus and use it to our advantage.
The first step is to get to know your anxiety. You need to understand what it does to you physically and mentally. You need to look it in the face, so to speak. If you walk around with your head in the sand and ignore your anxiety, it will only get worse. You need to face it, love it, and learn from it so that it becomes helpful.
Next, you need to find a healthy outlet for it. Find something that you can do that actually helps you to focus on your anxiety. When we are anxious, we want to get rid of it. We want to stop feeling anxious. But the more you try to get rid of it, the more stuck it becomes. Instead, you actually need to find a healthy outlet for it.
Anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. It’s actually a protective mechanism that can help us to stay focused and bring more importance to our life. But, the key is to learn how to use it to your advantage so that it doesn’t become harmful. When you feel anxious, you need to learn how to focus on the positive aspects of it. You need to understand that anxiety is trying to help you. You need to learn to face it and use it as a tool instead of a hindrance.