What causes anxiety?

As I mentioned in my previous blog “What is Anxiety?”, anxiety is not a pathology, but rather a highly sensitive nervous system that reacts to perceived threats. The kind of threats we experience in our daily lives can vary but they are rarely linked to immediate physical danger. When it comes to anxiety, the things that trigger us are usually linked to an underlying fear of disconnection from others.

Let me explain: as human beings we are sociable creatures. We have evolved over the centuries living in tribes and cooperating with one another to survive. As babies we are born utterly helpless and we learn to rely on our caregivers for everything. This feeling of interconnected-ness is at the heart of our human experience and it’s as important to us as food and shelter. So, if we perceive anything to threaten our sense of belonging in our community we feel a deep sense of anxiety.

Think about a situation when you feel anxious and ask yourself if there’s an underlying fear of being shamed, shunned or excluded from a situation, family or group that are important to you? Very often you will find that this plays a big part in anxious responses. For example, feeling anxious about a work email could, when explored, turn out to be a fear of making a mistake at work, losing credibility among colleagues, or ultimately losing your job and thereby your position in society. These are extreme worst case scenarios, of course, but that’s what anxiety does – it is always looking for the potential threats and worst case scenarios, to help keep us safe.

When we have identified how much our anxiety is triggered by our need to be accepted and feel connected to others around us, we can begin to look at ways to feel safe by strengthening our sense of connection with ourselves and others. This will help us feel more safe in the world and reduce anxious feelings in day to day life.

In my next blog I will share some of my best tools for treating anxiety naturally and holistically. Please sign up to my newsletter below to receive it and all my future blogs straight to your inbox. You will also be the first to be notified when my online program “How to cope with Anxiety – a Holistic Toolkit to bring back Calm” is available to purchase.

If you would like to learn some simple yet effective tools, why not sign up to my Mindfulness Workshop for Stress and Anxiety on January 27th?

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