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Stop Fighting Anxiety: The importance of safety

People who experience anxiety are often restless and feel the need to do something in order to fight their anxiety. People have panic attacks, pace, fidget, or seek reassurance.

However, these responses to anxiety may provide temporary relief, but don’t resolve anxiety. Understanding the purpose of anxiety can help us understand more productive responses to anxiety.

Anxiety is intended to protect us from danger. It creates a stress response which causes our body to respond in one of 3 ways: fight, flight, freeze. This is why people feel the need to do something to address their anxiety as if they’re trying to put out a kitchen fire.

When there is no life-threatening situation, then reacting as if there is a threat triggers your brain that it has correctly informed you that the current situation is dangerous. It can take time to teach your body that a situation is not threatening.

There are many techniques that can be used to calm the body, like those in the video below. Reminding yourself that anxiety is trying to helpful to you can help you determine if your current level of anxiety is helpful to you.

Is your anxiety motivating you to work on something important? Or is it debilitating you? When anxiety is unhelpful then you can say to your brain, “Thanks for trying to protect me, but this anxiety isn’t helpful.”

One common root of anxiety is a lack of confidence, especially for young people anxiety can be hard to manage because they don’t have experience succeeding in the things they want to succeed in. In this case the underlying issue of a lack of skill needs to be addressed to resolve the anxiety. Learning by doing is often the most effective way to overcome anxiety and develop a needed skill set.

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