Today we are reading about the purpose of anxiety, continuing our book club reading of the book “DARE, The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks” by Barry McDonagh.
We are starting off from page 68, the mechanics of anxiety. [or the purpose of anxiety you could say.]
On this page you will find the summary and notes of a book club reading. To join in on the comments, questions and exercises check out the Ralphitness Club here.
How does Anxiety Work, What’s the Purpose of Anxiety?
- Anxiety and Bodily Sensations
- Fight or flight response
- Automated Survival Mechanism
Fight or flight takes over in these anxious moments.
Limbic System or Emotional Brain (Amygdala) gets activated sending red alerts to the hypothalamus to fire and prepare for danger. The adrenals then are instructed to produce adrenaline and cortisol.
Two feelings result either highly excited or highly anxious.
Remember your interpretation response is going to change the way you experience the situation …the stress and anxiety. So when you respond with the DARE response things will shift.
Instead of things like digestion your system focuses on getting energy to the muscles and activating the stress hormones.
IBS is super common with AS. That is not the only stomach issue for chronic pain sufferers. Some people can successfully manage there symptoms by going on a special diet and I personally theorized that part of it has to do with your inability to digest your food properly. Not just digest but absorb it.
The adrenal glands are right above the kidneys and it is also where the 2nd chakra sits which is responsible for pleasure and digesting and metabolizing. Both the pleasure and pains of life are located here.
In a neural sense it is responsible for absorbing food and nutrients and allowing the body to have a pleasant experience. The 2nd chakra is also involved with your ability to absorb pleasure. It is usually blocked by guilt.
Underneath a lot of stomach issues is guilt, when seeing it from an Eastern minded perspective. What’s truly needed is Self Forgiveness, Letting Go of the Past. Guilt is similar to shame, however it is different.
Muscles get activated in this anxious situation so you can get out of there. Muscles begin to contract so it can attack. The bowels and bladder relax.
The bowels relax..so IBD, IBS…a lot of trips to the bathroom.
The biological response is designed to keep you safe from a threat, a survival mechanism. But it is also usually imaginary and not really a real threat.
For example encountering traffic on the freeway or sitting down to get your haircut. There is no real threat but your body is acting like there is one because it is sending the message there is danger.
Just to clarify I slightly disagree with there is no threat, because there is threat. The author is referring to a threat to your physical self, like a tiger running after you. There is a difference between your physical self and your perceived self.
However, the mind doesn’t know the difference between your physical self and your perceived self.
So if your stuck in traffic and the panic attack comes… there is no threat physically but all of a sudden there is a threat to your perceived self.
Your perceived self is threatened and your income maybe is threatened if you come to work late often, so just be mindful of that type of threat. Physically not but perceived self yes.
For example doing a speech might feel threatening to you but it will not kill you. The emotional brain is responding to the idea of being judged.
If your sense of self is threatened on the judgements than the stress response happens.
You can trick your brain into believing an imaginary thing is real.
For ex imagine sucking on a piece of lemon and you begin to salivate…this is imagined but the mind feels it is real.
Identifying Bodily Sensations for the fight or flight response:
- Pounding Heart
- Increased Breathing. Oxygen typically lowers as well, and hand cramps can even occur.
- Excess nervous energy – makes you feel on edge creating more adrenaline.
- Muscle tension/tremors – mostly in neck and upper body causing stiffness and uptightness….shaking like a leaf.
- Sweating increase to keep you cool during fight or flight. Social embarrassment then gets triggered
- Dizziness – you tend to over breathe and blood pressure goes up
- Bowels and Bladders loosen
- Digestion and salivation slow down -the issue is it can lead to nausea and vomiting. It can feed into social anxiety. When saliva slows down it leads to dry mouth.
Saliva creates amylase enzymes to help break down starches. Some do well on a low starch diet. All in all in this approach we don’t care about diet. The only diet that is relevant is that you are eating more real food less boxed products.
- Anticipation, Worry
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Comment from a Club Member:
A lot of the girls I know have a not so healthy relationship with their period. Maybe it has to do with a response to fear and feeling the need of having a bathroom close by.
Ralph comments: It is possible, I don’t see why not. There could be other reasons, hormones, the foods you eat…soy can affect estrogen levels on your period.
Veganism can be done right but too much soy can affect your period and how you feel overall. Excess soy has been shown to increase your risk for breast cancer. It could also be something emotional going on.
With men even emotional stuff happens and they can’t get it up no matter how hard they try…so it can happen to any of us.
I experienced sweating as a child and it affected my youth. Just thought I could share that.
Ralph: Thank you for sharing I am sure it will help someone connect the dots.
So the closer to the earth the better…the more color the better.
Real food has real vitamins and minerals. Boxed food is enriched with vitamins and minerals. You start getting deficient in nutrients. These nutrients give you a healthy state of mind and well being.
Extreme vegan, extreme paleo…eventually this will catch up to you. Just want to point this out since we are on the digestion and saliva section.
My first anxiety symptom was the need to urinate.
Ralph Replies: Oh yea that is a common one, I used to have that one too.
Commentator: It is always my first sign when under a lot of stress even before any muscle tension begins.
Ralph: Very good make a note of that. Any physical sensation that can alert you of how overwhelmed and how stressed you are before it becomes a full blown flare up is a good idea to make friends with.
For me personally one of my indicators is how I take care of my teeth. As weird as that sounds, right before bed if I feel heavy at the thought of brushing my teeth or my hygiene routine at night that is a sign for me. Same with the shower. If the thought of turning the water on and soaping up makes me feel heavy it’s my key to put some music on sing in the shower…
What you have no motivation to cook yourself a meal? Uh might be depressed…what’s going on. Those are my signs.
When self care starts to feel like a job or a burden those are my signs.
Too much peeing is one step ahead of that but self care is difficult when we are falling under.
As we continue on this journey my goal is for you to follow that sense as well. It is very nice to be aware of how the relationship with yourself is going.
I just want to ask what are you doing when you think, “I don’t feel like brushing my teeth a certain way or my shower the way I am supposed to?”
Do you have a certain technique you use to get into that rhythm again?
Ralph says: No, I don’t try to get into that mood again. My way of dealing with those types of experiences is hakuna matata such a wonderful thing. It means no worries.
Basically don’t fight it. Let me ask you this, when you are hungry what do you do? You eat. If you are hungry you eat, if you are not you don’t eat.
Basically when that stuff kicks in be aware you are exhausted, tired you know?
Over the years I have gotten very good at verbal communication.
Being aware of my emotional state, my psychological state but also being able to verbalize it. And on this journey with this group and those of you I work with one on one…one thing we focus on is your ability to verbalize what you are experiencing.
For example my wife comes over oh my god can you believe this bitch at work? And I am able to say….I don’t have the mental space right now…thank you.
I am very honest and verbal about it. I don’t have the mental space or the energy.
There are some fun things that I would like to do, like video games and slow them down because it requires brain energy.
Surprisingly one of the things I really enjoy when I feel that way is reading. I can lay down and read and allow myself to be in that experience.
Believe it or not I still go through my teeth routine because that is just regular hygiene but other things like oh my god self care, I’m going to yoga. If I’m feeling that way I won’t go to yoga but neither will I allow myself to die in the couch. You gotta be mindful. If your brain is telling you this shit…it could be depression it could be you are tired, it could be exhaustion, it could be anything but when that wave hits you…get ready because believe it or not anxiety is only half the battle the other side is depression.
Everyone who has an anxiety disorder also has waves of depression.
And when that energy kicks in and the energy is zapped out of you…well for me personally….I allow myself to have a nap if I need to take a nap. I set an alarm. I won’t allow myself to sleep for 3-4 hours and call it a nap, no a one hour or 45 minute nap to feel more energized and alert. Then use that energy to channel it into going for a walk, getting sunlight, doing something fun that I enjoy that doesn’t require too much effort or energy.
When it passes you will know. You will wake up in the morning like oooohhh look at that. The sunshine looks so nice.
The colors are pretty again and water taste delicious. Whatever it was a wave of depression or a wave of exhaustion….whatever it is, it is what it is.
When people are going through this journey, especially those who struggle with chronic pain and are not aware or able to verbalize and set boundaries and express what their experiencing in their body, they call that chronic fatigue.
They say oh yea I have this thing where I just get really fatigued & no energy to do anything.
Perhaps you are exhausted, have you thought of that?
No it’s not that Ralph I read somewhere on super duper google doctor dot com that its due to the inflammation in the body.
Depression, anxiety, the inflammation all come together.
So they say what do I do about it and how do I motivate myself?
Here’s how you motivate yourself. I know this place, it’s called an Uggs’ pillow… It’s so good oh my god the Uggs pillow. You have to get one!
And while you are at it get some night lights in your room and some nice music and we are going to go for the best nap we can take.
Nooo I want energy….yea sure you do but at what point are we going to go in to this?
Now what point are we going to not fight it and go into it. At what point are we going to admit to ourselves we don’t have the mental space or the energy.
Most importantly sometimes we just don’t have the patience….and at some point must admit that to ourselves.
Otherwise if you are fighting the depression your body doesn’t have the energy to move or digest or even sleep good. Then trying to care for other people instead of verbalizing. With kids it’s a different story.
With kids it is your responsibility to speak to your partner, I am in a vulnerable state right now, I am unable to concentrate. Is it possible to take the kids here or there or pick them up?
No I can’t. Ok at that point it is time to have the talk about how can you get a little more help in your life when going through these experiences otherwise your body is going to go downwards. In the East the second and third and 1st root chakra are responsible for energy production as well as the kidneys.
When the kidneys can’t keep up with the heavy load in your body and mind it’s going to go to its back up the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands will say to you, you don’t have any energy for this shit buddy? Don’t worry I got you right now.
Boom….rage, adrenals and anxiety kick in to keep you going. Anxiety is not always I’m afraid of this or that sometimes it’s your adrenals trying to keep you on your feet when you are too freaking exhausted.
And sometimes it’s necessary for adrenaline to get through a problem. Is it a saber tooth tiger? No it’s called living, sometimes life says hey you buddy, super zen person always peaceful…here’s a problem…you need to address it and it will take some time. So while you are here and stressed how can we keep you going through this.
Get to Know the Feeling of Anxiety
Oh yea I know anxiety…there you go, that is some energy to get you these problems.
Remember when we talked about anger? Anger can be a way to resolve problems.
Sometimes anger comes up when you are exhausted and depressed and no energy to take your kids to day care. Then you are driving to day care pissed the fuck off and then what are you going to do? Are you going to go home and journal? And try and figure out why you are pissed off?
“ I am going to find the root of this anger.”
The root is you’re exhausted. And driving your kids to day care is fucking hard.
When you look in the mirror give yourself a pat on the back at what you have accomplished. Yea I had a few panic attacks but I got my shit done today.
Now that the kids are showered and asleep…I am going to hit the sack, where’s my Ugg’s pillow? There it is.
Let it all go and the next day hopefully it’s a better day for you.
See what I am saying? Those that think that life is going to be ideal and perfect all the time..good luck. Sometimes we need this shit.
Sometimes we need it straight up, no excuses.
So for those still using pain as a way to cope…sometimes you need that shit plain and simple as you continue through life and learn how to verbalize and be more in touch with your feelings and set boundaries and get better at picking it up early.
Oh wait a minute, fuck…why is this soap so heavy today?
I don’t want to shower or do any of this…ok I know where I’m at.
Time for a boundary, time for a nap, a nice long walk, time to recharge my batteries and take care of myself until this wave of exhaustion is over.
I hope that makes sense, a bit of a rant or tangent but it’s important to verbalize it and how it’s applicable in your life.
I am not a fan of healers that use spirituality as a way to heal.
Spirituality is not applicable in real life. What are you going to do, do your mantra while you are pissed off driving your kids to day care depressed? It’s not applicable, what’s applicable is “hey wow, this is where I am today honey.”
I’m a bit under the weather I don’t feel so well. I feel tired, exhausted. Is it possible for you to pick up the kids? If not I will call a nanny and if you can’t afford a nanny And if you can’t afford a nanny perhaps finances is also a modern version of a saber tooth tiger that you haven’t acknowledge yet in your life.
May be time to look at your finances when you have more energy.
So that you can have a little less on your wagon to carry around.
On Number 9: Anticipation, Worry
Fight or flight puts the brain on alert for all possible threats. Even those that have NOT manifested.
This is why it turns inward when it can’t find an external threat.
If continuously anxious it turns into over worrying.
Worry about the contents of your mind and fear you are going nuts.
Derealization – the sense of unreality if all the world is an illusion.
Any questions or comments before we move on?
We are reading on page 74.
For example do you really think getting stressed about these things in your life is a disorder? I will let you think about that…no it’s life.
It happens and it not permanent, it’s always changing. One day you are in traffic having a panic attack the next you are on vacation relaxing.
Stop getting lost into the medical jargon used. You are not a label. Yes you may have all the symptoms according to medical organizations.
The trouble is these labels have a major impact on how people perceive themselves.
They think this is who they are now.
The goal of this book is designed to teach you, yes you, may be having these uncomfortable experiences but it is totally normal.
As we normalize it we heal much faster. You can verbalize and name your feelings!
You are not your anxiety, it’s not the real you. This is an important purpose of anxiety.
Through the DARE response you will feel like your old self again.
That concludes our discussion on that section of the book.
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