Anyone who struggles with feeling anxious and/or stressed on a consistent basis knows that it can be exhausting. When we have anxious, worried thoughts that persist, it begins to take a toll on us mentally, emotionally and physically. We often have less patience in our relationships, our productivity goes down and we often have a hard time getting the rest we need.
It is well documented that anxiety is increasing among all age groups. As a result of this, programs have been developed and self-help books have been written to help us learn how to become more emotionally resilient. A common theme has emerged. If we can learn to effectively manage our stress, we tend to feel better and function better in all areas of our lives.
What causes anxiety?
There are many contributing factors as to what causes or heightens our anxiety. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but to give an overview.
Genetic: Some of us struggle with anxiety because there is a family history of it.
Situational Anxiety: This can vary widely from person to person but typically means when the stressor is over, your anxiety reduces. An example of this would be giving a presentation at work or in class.
Trauma: Trauma impacts every aspect of our lives and it is normal to struggle with anxiety and high levels of stress, sometimes for long periods of time after the traumatic event has occurred.
Anxiety due to a medical condition: There are many medical conditions that cause us and our loved ones to feel stressed, anxious and worried.
No matter the reason you are feeling anxious or stressed, the very best resources to access involve regulating your nervous system first. The higher your stress and anxiety levels are, the more difficult it becomes to remember the things we have been taught to do to lower our stress.
Regulation before Reasoning
Because of the way our brain is structured, it has to pay attention to things that it senses. This is why we automatically smell popcorn when we walk into a movie theater. This is why we turn and look when we hear a loud noise. Many mindfulness and grounding techniques focus on paying attention to the here and now by focusing on our senses. What do you see, smell, hear, touch, taste? Tapping activates the sensing part of the brain. It is one of the easiest things you can do to help you regulate your nervous system.