What You’ll Learn Today:
- The difference between stress and anxiety
- The biology of anxiety
- Why what works to battle stress often doesn’t work to battle anxiety
- Specific grounding exercises to cope with anxiety
The Biology of Anxiety:
Your autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls all your involuntary body functions from breathing to blinking your eyelids. There are two branches of your ANS: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
Your PNS is known as your “rest and digest” system. The PNS slows your heart rate, conserves energy and stimulates all the good stuff like sexual arousal, appetite and digestion. The PNS is your default setting when you’re not in danger.
For survival purposes, your brain and body evolved to constantly scan your environment for any possible danger. When your brain senses any type of threat (which can literally be your mother-in-law calling), your SNS turns on. You know this as your fight-flight-freeze response.
In last week’s podcast/blog post I talked about stress. Stress and anxiety are words that are used interchangeably and that’s a problem because they are two different things.
Stress is a response to something external, such as an argument with your spouse or a looming project at work. Once the situation is resolved, the stress goes away. When you’re stressed, it’s important to use tactics such as tackling the issue head on, exercise, getting good sleep and eating well.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is internal. It’s the way you react to stress. There’s usually a persistent feeling of apprehension, doom, dread or disconnection (some people describe a “floaty” feeling of being unmoored). Unlike stress, anxiety continues even after an issue has passed.
If you’re feeling anxious, many of the same tools used for stress can help, but they’re usually not enough. Adding grounding exercises can make all the difference. Grounding is a technique that focuses on keeping you in the present. It’s about reorienting you to the here and now which is your true reality. In the present, you’re OK.
Resources and Links:
- Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel
- If you haven’t listened to “Why You’re Lizard Brain is Keeping you Stuck” it’s time!