How to Lower Your Anxiety

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Anxiety is a tricky thing to deal with for a number of reasons, but mostly because the things that make us anxious we know shouldn't.

For instance, there's a lot of anxiety that comes with giving a presentation in front of a group, but you know that at the end of the day, it's not a big deal at all.

Think back to the last time you gave a presentation (likely high school or college); now think about the moments leading up to being your turn, compared to the day after the presentation.

All that worry, all that fear, all those nerves building up higher and higher, then it's like it never happened- life is completely normal again.

Now compare that to where you are currently- could be 5, 10, or 20 years later and that worry probably seems so silly to you now.

Even if it was a terrible presentation, it had little to no effect on you looking back at it.

All that fuss for nothing!

But, in the moment, it felt like it could be the end of the world.

Why is that?

Why do we lose so much sleep and endure such discomfort and agony over things that a day or two later completely vanish?

And more importantly, is there a way to stop that? Can you lower anxiety?

Let's find out.

Anxiety Therapists in Colorado

Jessica Titone, LPCC

Jessica Titone, LPCC

Colorado
(720) 437-9089
Heather Westbrook, LCSW

Heather Westbrook, LCSW

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Jacquelynne Sils, LPC

Jacquelynne Sils, LPC

Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Samantha Zavala, LPCC

Samantha Zavala, LPCC

Aurora, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Mikayla Braukhoff, LPC

Mikayla Braukhoff, LPC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Amber Hopf, MSW, SWP

Amber Hopf, MSW, SWP

Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Derek Bonds, LPC

Derek Bonds, LPC

Pueblo, Colorado
(719) 696-3439
Hailey Gloden, MA, LPC, NCC

Hailey Gloden, MA, LPC, NCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Sarah Munk, LPC

Sarah Munk, LPC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Shannon Matlock, LPC, NCC

Shannon Matlock, LPC, NCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 203-7021
Joel Harms, MA, LPC

Joel Harms, MA, LPC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Mallory Heise, LPC, LAC

Mallory Heise, LPC, LAC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Katelynn Dwyer, LPCC

Katelynn Dwyer, LPCC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Emily Murphy, LPC

Emily Murphy, LPC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Joshua Goldberg, LPCC

Joshua Goldberg, LPCC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424

How Anxiety Works

Let's start learning how to lower anxiety by examining how anxiety works.

That way we can understand why it feels so intense in the moment and why we hardly think about it after the fact.

To begin, anxiety starts as a fear response in the brain that sends signals to another part of the brain that is responsible for self-assessment.

This happens so fast that all we notice is the anxiety, all of a sudden we're sweating, our hearts are racing, the whole 9 yards.

The fear center of the brain is old, really old, and terribly outdated.

It was super effective for our cave-dwelling ancestors whose daily lives were constantly on the line.

It hasn't caught up to the modern day, so whatever we perceive as a threat to our self-perception (anything that risks embarrassment, judging, or ridicule basically) rings that ancient alarm system as if our life were in immediate danger.

Once we escape that moment (the presentation ends, we leave the party, our boss exits the room, etc) then that alarm system turns off and we feel a wave of relief.

It's like our mind says to the body, "Hooray we're alive! Now, what were we doing?"

Now there's no threat so the day resumes as normal.

Your mind does a poor job of remembering the feeling of safety and the fact that you were never in danger but does a tremendous job remembering the fear response.

This combination means having anxiety every time that situation appears, and in many cases that anxiety then spreads to things that are associated with the situation; i.e. boss in the room becomes going to work, becomes work itself, etc.

A Slippery Slope

This is where anxiety can become a slippery slope.

Depending on how pre-disposed to anxiousness you are, aka how active your fear center is, what started as a singular fear can develop into a general anxiety about any number of things.

Let's look at the example at the bottom of the previous paragraph.

If you are a very anxious person and your anxiety skyrockets whenever your boss wants to speak to you, it isn't uncommon to generalize that fear to things you associate with your boss.

If she always comes to your office with bad news then you may benign to feel anxious just being in your office.

If she loves golf then you may get anxious when people talk about golf, and so on.

This isn't always the case but it's not exactly uncommon.

All of this anxiety creates stress, and all of that stress creates inflammation, and all of that inflammation creates more anxiety, depression, heart disease, brain disease, fibromyalgia, and much much more.

But this is good news because that means that if you can reduce your stress, then you can lower anxiety.

This is because stress reduction techniques lower inflammation; lower inflammation, and lower anxiety.

How Does One Lower Anxiety?

Let's lower anxiety!

More good news, there are hundreds of stress reduction tools out there, all you have to do to lower anxiety is find the ones that work best for you.

We'll go over a handful here to get you started, but more important than the specific tools you use, is the consistency with which you use them.

If you use your tools to lower anxiety every single day you'll notice big improvements in a much shorter amount of time.

Tool 1: Sleep

  • Go to bed at the same time, and wake up a the same time every single day

Tool 2: Physiological Sigh

  • Two sharp inhales through the nose, one long exhale through the mouth (like your blowing through a straw; repeat for 30-60 seconds.

Tool 3: Exercise

  • Deliberate stress created through physical exercise 20 minutes per day improves your ability to handle stress while simultaneously decreasing stress and inflammation overall

Tool 4: Meditation

  • Daily 5-minute meditation by focusing only on your breathing reduces inflammation and suppresses the fear center in your brain

These four tools are the best tools available to lower anxiety and reduce inflammation.

As I said, the difference in how effective they are is in how often you use them.

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Conclusion

Anxiety is a tricky thing to deal with, especially in modern society.

By trying to protect us, it just limits how we experience life and makes everyday things harder to do.

Our brain is really bad at remembering how we feel after anxiety, but really good at remembering fear.

All of that fear and anxiety increases stress and inflammation which increases anxiety and many other chronic illnesses.

If you want to lower anxiety then you must lower inflammation by decreasing your overall levels of stress.

This can be done through meditation, exercise, improving your sleep, and implementing breathing exercises.

There are hundreds of relaxation techniques out there, what matter is how often you put them to work!

Lower your anxiety today but lowering inflammation.

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April 21st, 2024

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