What is anxiety?
Updated: Oct 16, 2020
Imagine it is a beautiful sunny day and a grasshopper is relaxing in a grassy area all by itself, living the best grasshopper life it can live. Along comes a person that starts to poke at the grasshopper, wondering how it will react. The grasshopper is startled and flutters away to another part of the yard. The person walks towards it again to investigate. But this time the grasshopper jumps before the person can poke at it. It appears to be ready to hop away to escape from the person poking it again.
Why did the grasshopper jump away? What happens if it doesn't jump away after being poked, as it was before?
That poor grasshopper who was just enjoying the beautiful day is just reacting in an effort to survive. Now, I think it is fair to say that grasshoppers are not smart and have tiny brains (no offense to all the grasshoppers out there). So how did it know to react with a jump? Why was it so easily startled afterwards?
That grasshopper is experiencing how a human would experience anxiety!
Let's pretend that the grasshopper is more like a human. When it was in danger it had a great burst of energy in its appendages or legs. In order to have such a quick, energetic, and amazing jump, the grasshopper body had to react by taking blood and pushing it towards its extremities. It did this by having a rapid heart beat and having quick and shallow chest breathing. But where did the extra blood and oxygen come from, as it flooded into her legs and arms? Its body took blood from things that it felt were not as important. Blood was pumped away from its stomach area and pushed into parts that help with danger.
Now the grasshopper is ready for action, but it notices nausea and a weird stomach sensation - maybe even a little bit lightheaded or dizzy? Could that be part of its reaction to danger?
Remember, this is a grasshopper and far from smart or thoughtful. Anxiety is not thoughtful. It happens in grasshoppers too. It is a reaction that happens when things don't feel right or if you feel in danger.
I am not a doctor, and I do not claim to be an expert on grasshopper life, but I can tell you that your body can be activated just like the grasshopper. We are intelligent humans, smarter than a grasshopper and we can learn ways to be aware of what activates our anxiety, how our body lets us know about anxiety, and steps to work with our anxiety so it is less intense or less disabling.
Make an appointment for support and to explore coping skills to lesson your reaction to anxiety!