The science behind Anxiety in our body

When your heart races at the thought of an upcoming challenge, it's not just you—it's a conversation between mind and body that's as old as humanity. Join me, Life Coach Jen, as we navigate the labyrinth of anxiety. I examine the intricate dance of our nervous systems. This episode peels back the layers of anxiety, from the hidden influences of our childhoods to the relentless pressures placed on women by society. Discover the transformative potential of neuroplasticity, and understand how our own stories are woven into the wider tapestry of stress management.

Embarking on this journey, we acknowledge that anxiety isn't a sign of weakness but a part of our protective instincts that may sometimes need recalibration. We'll delve into the world of grounding techniques, learn to recognize signs of early anxiety imprints in family dynamics, and consider anxiety's habitual role as a response to unprocessed trauma. Whether you're seeking solace for your own restless thoughts or aiming to support loved ones, this episode is a treasure trove of insights and strategies, offering a beacon of hope for those yearning for a more harmonious existence amidst life's tumultuous waves.

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Speaker 1: 0:10
Hi friends, welcome to Happily. Even After I’m Life Coach Jen, a certified life coach that specializes in relationships. I’m a mom of four awesome kids and one amazing senora, a home decorator, a remodeler, a shopper, a scrabler and a snuggler. I want to help you with your relationships, mainly the relationship you have with yourself and your family and God. Thanks for listening and letting me share the tools I have learned that can help you live happily even after some of life’s greatest challenges.

Speaker 1: 0:40
Hey, friends, so last week I kind of talked about anxiety and I referenced the book from John Deloni, building a Non-Anxious Life, and so I just wanted to come back. Last year I did this intensive talking about our nervous system and fight, flight, freeze and fun and all the things. So I went back and I listened, we had a class all on anxiety, because I think it’s so fascinating, and especially since right now our world and so many of our kids and us personally have anxiety in our lives, and really it’s just fascinating that we are designed, our bodies are designed. I talked about I kept on calling it a fire alarm. So a fire alarm or a smoke alarm, that it is an alarm inside of our body to let us know, hey, something’s going on. So I just wanted to kind of talk more the scientific part about it, because I find it fascinating, and what I loved about this, that there’s just been lots of studies, especially as of late, about anxiety, because there’s so many people struggling with it and it’s not only genetic but it’s also chemicals in our brains and our bodies that give us anxiety. Some people have more anxiety and it’s like does it come from an event that happened in our lives or is it chemical or is it both? And I loved the idea because our brain has neuroplasticity, so our brain can learn something or unlearn something. Not that anxiety is going to go away for us, but we can learn to manage it and we can maybe unlearn some things that we think maybe causes us to have anxiety. They’ve really done a lot of studies that anxiety and chronic pain kind of go hand in hand, and so if you have chronic pain, do you also have anxiety? And what is causing that? So I just I think it’s fascinating all the work that’s been on going, and I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about this, but a lot of it stems from our childhood, right, and there’s a thing called an ACE score and you can Google that and figure out your ACE score and it’s one through 10 and it asks you different traumatic events that have happened in your life.

Speaker 1: 3:07
A lot of times doctors are thinking like people with higher ACE scores might have more anxiety. It’s possible, right, and anxiety is really your fight or flight getting activated, and it’s activated all the time. Like my son has described, his anxiety is like he’s getting chased by a bear 24, seven. How exhausting. That’s exhausting for your brain and your body, and so he needs to sleep a lot. A lot of people have a lot of you know. There’s just different types of anxiety and that’s not how everyone’s anxiety looks and feels like.

Speaker 1: 3:48
But anxiety really is fear expressed in your mind and body and it’s a warning sign that is triggering you that danger, right. So there’s lots of ways that trauma can be experienced, right. There’s things that a lot of the scientists say that kind of are a factor in someone’s anxiety Things like how you were raised, different events. So someone with a higher ACE score they might have experienced homelessness or their parents getting divorced, feeling abandonment or a traumatic event happening to them. They also believe women are more likely to have anxiety because we have a lot of us people pleas and we’re givers and we are usually on the wrong end of the stick on abuse and not that women can’t be abusive, but this is just general. So there’s lots of things in our nature that cause us to have anxiety. Different triggering events can have us have anxiety, specific personality traits, and that’s why women are considered to be higher risk for anxiety, and I don’t think anxiety is something to fix. It’s not that you’re broken, it’s actually your body’s working great. It’s just learning to manage it and maybe prevent things that are stressors in your life that seem to exacerbate it more than other things. So learning to manage that and obviously little kids it’s harder to do that right, but becoming aware, watching your kids figuring out tools and tips and tricks, which is why I like learning about anxiety, because I have my own children that suffer from it as well, as I have anxiety sometimes, and so I want to learn and I know pretty much our entire world has anxiety and so it probably factors from lots of different things.

Speaker 1: 5:57
A lot of times they call anxiety like the horror movie syndrome, because have you ever touched someone that is in a super anxious mood and they just jump? That’s someone. That obviously is really heightened anxiety. It’s like they’re in a horror movie, but they’re not. They’re just sitting watching TV, but it’s their body’s reaction to how they’re feeling inside. So they’re trying to protect themselves, right? So there’s this cycle that we can go through.

Speaker 1: 6:31
When we have anxiety, we experience stressful events that trigger suppressed feelings like anger, guilt, fear of sadness, many other emotions. Then our bodies will often mourn us of the situation by producing anxiety, depression, pain, insomnia, and that’s all subconscious. So it’s like it happens without us even realizing it. That’s in our body is the anxiety that our brain considers our thoughts and feelings and decides if they’re dangerous or not. And then we get our fight or flight gets activated, and it’s just fascinating that our anxiety lives in our body. But it also is connected with our brain and our brain can remember things, even if you experienced them years ago, like our body remembers, right, if you’ve read, the body keeps the score and then we watch this little clip, and so go and watch it. It’s on YouTube from Grey’s Anatomy and it’s called Joe has a breakthrough in therapy, and it’s so fascinating because it’s of two women talking about an experience that happened to this girl when she was four days old and now she was looks like she was in her 30s and how it is still affecting her. It’s because her body doesn’t know yet that she is safe and so it still has that anxiety from something that happened when she was four days old. So it’s really, it’s just fascinating. That’s why I love clips, because like to see it in action is so helpful. It can help you understand why this is happening to you and what that actually looks and feels like.

Speaker 1: 8:18
So I’ve talked about our nervous system before, and Team Hyper is. You know the fight or flight and that’s where anxiety lives in your body, and when you’re in that Team Hyper, it is exhausting if you get stuck in there. So anxiety is a coping mechanism that our body uses to adapt for stressful situations. When it’s too much for our mind and body to bear, it creates anxiety, and so learning to be in alignment with your mind and body is so important if you’re trying to reduce the amount of anxiety in your body. There’s an acronym it’s A-L-A-R-M-S Alarms that talks about different reasons why someone might have anxiety. I think the why is important to understand. So any type of abuse could be emotional, physical, sexual abuse could cause someone to have anxiety loss, and so when I say these things it’s really everyone right, but some people have more intense anxiety than others. But for me, the knowing kind of helps me have compassion, more compassion and more curiosity for anxiety. So, abuse for the A loss.

Speaker 1: 9:51
Abandonment and I want you to know that abandonment doesn’t mean just someone abandoned you like, left completely, and because a lot of times in divorce kids will feel like they’re abandoned, even though they see their dad or mom. You know 50-50. They might still feel abandoned and that’s okay. We can’t judge them or say they’re wrong, because just because they felt abandoned, it was true for them. It may not really be a fact, but they feel that it was true. Rejection, and I think everyone’s been rejected at one time or another.

Speaker 1: 10:31
People that have to mature too early. This happens a lot in families where there is divorce or someone dies and one of the kids has to step up and be a caregiver. They have to grow up too fast and so anxiety can be present. Shame Anything a child perceives as shameful, and I wish that none of us had shame in our life, but unfortunately it’s something we all carry with us, and learning to become shame resilient is a whole other amazing tool, but learning to recognize shame and name it and get rid of it can really help with your anxiety.

Speaker 1: 11:12
I think it’s important to know that anxiety is not a disease, it’s not a character flaw, it’s not a weakness, and I think many times we have labeled it as one of those, if not all of those. Something is wrong with me. No, we are meant to have the emotion, the feeling of anxiety. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to also live our lives feeling that emotion and not judging it and not trying to get rid of it, because it is a warning mechanism that we were created with and so it can actually be very useful at times. Right, most of us are not getting chased by bears on a daily, hopefully, thank goodness. But there are other things that feel as dangerous as that, for whatever reason, because anxiety is in our body and then it triggers something in our mind, our fight or flight, and so just figuring it out, right, and sometimes we have to take medication, right, but our medication might help with our feelings in our body, but it’s also important to work on the strength of our mind recognizing is that true? Asking ourselves questions.

Speaker 1: 12:34
There are two components of anxiety. The first is a sense of alarm in our body, which I was talking about just now, and then the second are anxious thoughts of the mind. So anxiety doesn’t just live in our mind and doesn’t live just in our body. It lives in both, which is probably why it feels so intense, right, and it’s probably why it’s one of the more complicated emotions. But I just think that’s good to know, because we just can’t treat one without treating the other. I’ve been really considering like a more holistic approach to anxiety, instead of just taking a medication. Sure, that’s helpful, but there are other components that I think are important to look at, especially if your kids have anxiety, or you yourself experience a lot of anxiety.

Speaker 1: 13:26
So when we have anxiety and the alarm’s going off, we’re in fight or flight, and so that means the CEO, the pre-final cortex, is not online, right, because our nervous system has gone offline, because we’re right now in danger, danger, danger. So when we experience anxiety in our body, we have to ground ourselves and find safety, so then we can get back online and start thinking about what our thoughts are that maybe cause the anxiety. So learning how to break the cycle, I think, is key to helping us be able to diminish the intensity of our anxious feelings and then we can redirect our energy from thoughts to the grounding of safety in our body so we can think different thoughts, which can help ground us. When we just try to change our mind, if we think, oh, I’m just gonna start thinking different thoughts, that is still unhelpful because we have to do it from the body, mind and the mind body. We have to approach our whole self to be able to help ourselves deal with our anxiety. We can’t just do one without the other.

Speaker 1: 14:42
So I’m gonna ask the question where does our alarm come from? And a lot of us it’s like a refrigerator, like the background noise, like if you’re refrigerator buzzes in our body and that could come from unresolved trauma we don’t even know, but it’s just this constant humming right and so that’s kind of what it feels like. But I want you to know that you can’t think your way out of feeling anxiety. It’s just not possible. So we have to come from a different approach. So why we have the alarm? Our body’s always scanning for danger, right? Our alarm can easily get triggered and become habitual. So a lot of times people it’s like almost that they’re always triggered by or they put themselves in situations that they’re constantly get triggered and it just becomes habitual instead of intentional. But we can’t reason when we’re in this hyper sense of anxiety. So we need a calmer nervous system down and then we can go into a deeper feeling of what’s really going on in our bodies.

Speaker 1: 15:57
So anxiety isn’t always necessarily caused from trauma. Right, that is, if we go back in the science, that is some things that are definitely causing us. A traumatic experience causes the alarms in our body to go off, and when we haven’t processed that out of our body, then sometimes that alarm keeps on going off. Trauma isn’t necessarily an event. I mean it can be right, but if you have kids or experience had brothers and sisters like you, might have all experienced your life differently, so not everyone had the same experience with their parents or the siblings as you did, and so just being aware of that, I think, is important. So you’re not comparing yourself with someone else.

Speaker 1: 16:48
But trauma is always experienced in the body, which can cause the alarms of our body, which is anxiety, to go off. Sometimes, when the alarms in our body are going off, we can go to worrying, overthinking, problem solving, hyper vigilance, and so these things can be helpful sometimes, but when overused, they can be exhausting and they just become a coping strategy and like a bandaid, instead of trying to actually gain control and understand your anxious thoughts and feelings. And so when you have the alarm going off, these are good coping mechanisms, but it’s not always the reason why, or you’re not able to really fix the actual issue that is going on. And I can see this in my own life, like the alarm was going on but I was looking at not even the thing, the affair. That was the reason why my alarm was going on of anxiety in my body. But I was looking at like, oh, maybe if I lost more weight, then my husband would like me more, or maybe if I was a better cook, or I was looking at all these other things, thinking that was the problem, instead of getting to the root cause of the problem.

Speaker 1: 18:20
So our goal is never to get rid of anxiety. It is to increase our safety. That will reduce our anxiety. Of course, john Delaney’s book is amazing, so those are tips and tricks, but I just thought it was important to understand, like why does it even exist in our body and what is it for? And it’s actually meant to warn us, right and to protect us. But because we don’t live in a, we’re not cavemen and we’re not going out and shooting our food, thank goodness, or you know, we’ve evolved into where we are now. Anxiety shows up differently for our kids and differently for us, and things that maybe technically aren’t dangerous, like looking at a post on Instagram, isn’t gonna kill us, but it feels like it. Right, it could be hurtful, especially if we see all of our friends at a party and then we weren’t invited.

Speaker 1: 19:21
So I think becoming aware of what is triggering you, what is the cause of it, why is it there is so important and know that it’s just not taking a pill is gonna make it go away and we don’t need to have it go away. We need to have it just be okay, like accept it, like okay, I’m feeling anxious today, and be okay and learn how to deal with it. I always it’s like bring it in your backpack today, bring anxiety, but maybe get curious, like, oh, is there something I’m trying to be warned about? What’s going on? And reminding yourself your brain do I feel safe? If you ask your body that when you feel anxiety, do I feel safe, you’re gonna say no, but you can get into your brain and am I safe? And your brain scans and says yes, and then you can start relaxing and being okay, I’m gonna be fine, and figuring out that anxiety isn’t gonna kill you. You’re not gonna die from anxiety, even though you might feel like it in the moment.

Speaker 1: 20:32
And so just being aware of what in your life is really triggering it and deciding do I need to have that in my life anymore? So just becoming aware of your situation, as well as your kid’s situation, and helping them understand that they aren’t broken, they’re gonna be okay, there’s nothing has gone wrong. This is how God made our bodies, created us to have these alarms in our system, and just sometimes they get overworked, overused and that can feel uncomfortable. Anyways, I hope this was informational and helpful. I know learning about anxiety has really helped me in my life and helping me understand me, as well as my children, and that’s been so useful to me. But if you’d like to learn more or if you need help in your own life, I’d love to be that person to help you. Anyways, have a great day If you want to learn how to live happily, even after sign up for my email at hello at lifecoachjen with onencom. Follow me on Instagram and Facebook. At happily even after coach. Let’s work together to create your happily even after.

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