Two Levels of Anxiety Unwellness Recovery - Part 1
Many people view anxiety as being an "IT": a force, disease, illness, or genetic problem that takes control of our bodies, minds, health, and lives. But anxiety is not an "IT." We create anxiety when we behave in an apprehensive manner (imagining something bad or harmful may happen).
Behaving in an apprehensive manner activates the body’s stress response. The stress response secretes stress hormones into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with danger - to either fight or flee – which is why the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.
When we behave apprehensively too often, however, the body can become overly stressed. A body that's overly stressed can become symptomatic. Therefore, anxiety symptoms are actually symptoms of stress. We call them anxiety symptoms because behaving apprehensively is the main source of the body’s stress that causes it to become overly stressed and symptomatic.
Because we choose the behaviors we use - even though our behaviors can sometimes seem automatic - we CREATE anxiety when we CHOOSE to behave in an apprehensive manner. Choosing apprehensive behavior too often and/or dramatically is generally the cause of problematic anxiety (anxiety unwellness) and its stress response consequences (an overly stressed body that has become symptomatic).
Therefore, to overcome problematic anxiety (anxiety unwellness), we need to replace apprehensive behavior with non-apprehensive behavior and give the body ample time to recover from its overly stressed state (which we call stress-response hyperstimulation). When we adopt non-apprehensive behavior, we eliminate problematic anxiety and its stress response consequences.
So the good news is we CAN eliminate anxiety unwellness simply by learning how. The bad news, however, is that doing so requires getting the right information, seeking help, and working at it. Since anxiety is caused by apprehensive behavior, WE have to be the ones to change our behavior. No one else can do that for us.
Unfortunately, many of those who develop anxiety unwellness become afraid of the physiological, psychological, and emotional changes the stress response brings about. So they become afraid of the FEELINGS of being afraid and/or afraid of the CONSEQUENCES of being afraid. These fears are also apprehensive behavior….which can set up a negative cycle of anxiety, stress, symptoms, anxiety, stress, symptoms, and so on.
In a sense, many anxious personalities become afraid of being afraid and how that feels.
For many anxiety unwellness sufferers, recovery, then, requires two stages, or as we call it, “Two Levels of Recovery.”
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Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated April 2015.