Being stuck in survival mode and experiencing constant anxiety has an impact on your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.
I specialise in working with clients who are experiencing anxiety and panic attacks. Every client is unique and what may trigger you into survival mode may be personal for you. When you get stuck in the survival mode, anxiety and panic effects everything in your life. However, your brain can learn how to achieve the rest and digest response that takes you out of this state.
- What is the fight or flight (or freeze) response?
- Why does anxiety keep growing?
- What is rest and digest?
- How hypnotherapy can help you.
WHAT IS THE FIGHT OR FLIGHT (OF FREEZE) RESPONSE?
First, I will take you through the physical reactions that you may be experiencing and explain the reasons why they happen. Our fight or flight response is important for our survival. In an emergency, the fight or flight response can assist you in responding appropriately. When a threat or danger is perceived (real or imagined), and before your conscious mind has had time to assess the situation your fight or flight response has begun. Chemicals including adrenaline and cortisol are released. Our body prepares to run from the threat, or to fight it. What happens once this chain of events is set in motion?
Muscles require oxygen to work, so our breathing changes to bring more oxygen into our bodies. Oxygen is carried through the blood to the muscles, so our heart rate increases to deliver the oxygen to those muscles quickly. Energy is needed to fight or run so all our energy is directed towards where it is needed. Our digestive system and immune system require energy, but this energy needs to be recruited to help us respond to the threat. As a result, digestion slows or shuts down and our immune system may go offline for a while. Our senses sharpen and our focus narrows in on the perceived threat. This is all useful and appropriate if there is a danger or a threat.
If you are experiencing stress, anxiety and panic attacks you may experience some of the following:
- Breathing difficulties, dizziness/light headedness. As you take in more oxygen and exhale less carbon dioxide to prepare your muscles for survival you may experience hyperventilation.
- Heart rate changes. You may experience palpitations, increased heart rate.
- Your digestion shuts down to divert energy to the survival response. This can result in uncomfortable sensations such as butterflies in your tummy, nausea, diarrhea, or a heavy weight in your abdomen.
- Your sleep can be disturbed when adrenalin and cortisol remains in your system
- Your focus narrows to ensure your awareness is prepared to deal with the threat. You may find it challenging to focus on other things, become more forgetful, constant thinking about situations, people, or places that trigger your experience of anxiety. Mental fatigue and feeling overwhelmed.
- Your immune system may be impacted. A wound like a small cut may take longer to heal. You may catch colds more often or they linger.
Remember, your experience may be different to others, you may experience some or all of them.
All of the physical sensations described may be signals from your body that you need to seek medical advice. Always consult your medical professional and rule out other underlying issues before assuming anxiety is the cause.
WHY DOES ANXIETY KEEP GROWING?
Anything that you do repeatedly you get better at. For example, perhaps when you were learning how to ride a bike you weren’t very good at it. But the more you practiced the less wobbly you were, and after lots of practice you learned how to ride in a straight line and turn the corner. It became easier as the pathways in your brain for riding a bike became stronger. The same thing happens with anxiety. The more often you experience anxiety, the pathways in your brain that are associated with your anxiety will also become stronger. You are changing the way your brain is wired.
As these pathways become stronger, you react to that trigger faster. Or you may develop new triggers. Also, as you avoid the circumstances or places that trigger anxiety, your brain rewards you with a sense of temporary relief that you have escaped the anxiety. Over time this reinforces avoidance, and your world may become smaller as your anxiety grows.
In an effort to distract yourself from anxiety, you may develop unhealthy coping strategies that can add to distress, for example:
- Avoidance of activities, situations, or people
- Emotional eating to distract yourself from feelings and thoughts
- Habits such as smoking or an unhealthy relationship to alcohol can be driven by anxiety
WHAT IS REST AND DIGEST?
When you feel safe your body will enter rest and digest. Available energy can now be used by your digestive and immune system to complete tasks important for your health and wellbeing. Your mind is a more peaceful place and is no longer overwhelmed with signals of danger.
When you are in rest and digest:
- Your digestive system goes to work and can more effectively process the nutrients from your food
- Your immune system gets busy with cell repair to heal where necessary, it can use available energy to fight off colds and viruses more effectively
- Better quality sleep, waking feeling alert, refreshed and well rested
- When your body and mind experiences rest and digest, thinking is clearer, decision making is easier, increased resilience when faced with challenges
HOW HYPNOTHERAPY CAN HELP YOU
The same mechanisms in your mind that triggers you into anxiety and panic can be used to your advantage. You can learn how to trigger and anchor yourself into calm. The ability of your brain to change is known as neuroplasticity. Hypnotherapy can help you to reduce, disconnect, and remove unhelpful pathways. Helpful pathways can be developed that take you out of anxiety, panic, and survival mode and into a calmer state. Your brain can learn the difference between a real threat and a perceived one, it can learn to feel safe when there is no threat to your survival.
Hypnotherapy works directly with your subconscious mind to develop new responses and it builds on your existing strengths. It is an empowering experience! Experiencing hypnotic trance can release the physical and mental effects of anxiety and stress. Helpful suggestions are offered to the subconscious mind to move you out of survival mode, and towards calm and greater wellbeing.
Would you like to know more about how I may be able to assist you? I offer a free 30 minute consultation with no obligation to book sessions and no sales spiel. A consultation gives you the opportunity to talk about what you want to achieve, ask questions, and decide if hypnotherapy is right for you. I offer sessions by phone and online.
Ph 0403 357 656