By definition, anxiety is marked by “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” It seems each day brings an alarming crisis and mounting uncertainty. It is no wonder that anxiety is rising.
Chronic stress is draining. It causes wear and tear on the body and the damage to the brain’s circuitry causes changes in the brain’s anatomy. Symptoms of constant anxiety, panic attacks, restlessness, insomnia, heart palpitations, inability to relax, high blood pressure, breathing problems and poor digestion as well as other impacts to the body can result. Research by William James Fellow Bruce McEwen on the neuroendocrinology of stress hormones found that chronic stress impacts specific areas of the brain, which can lead to changes in mood, learning, and memory. Burnout can result in a loss of motivation, emotional depletion, memory impairment, cynicism, rumination on negativity, and detachment. Your brain is worn out and needs a rest.
Detachment is the natural outcome when you are mentally and emotionally exhausted and drained. You want to “chill-out” or numb out with mindless distractions. Mild distractions can be beneficial in the short term. However, when anxiety escalates you may dissociate, or turn to drugs or food to soothe yourself. Sitting in front of the television or your computer for long hours, erratically keeping busy or working until you drop are danger signs. These habits of retreating may become addictions that harm you, deplete your energy and don’t actually stop the anxiety. The underlying threat response is still activated and only temporarily submerged. Regular exercise, being creative, walking in nature, meditating, dancing, playing music that you love, laughing, playing and reducing time spent listening to media are all healthy ways to discharge and de-stress. These are great coping skills and when you understand why they work, you will be able to initiate a higher and more productive level of consciousness.
Connection Creates Security
A healthy body is always checking for harmony, balance, and a return to homeostasis. You go in and out of balance with continual adjustments taking place. Physical connectivity between the physiological elements and processes of your body is required to achieve relatively stable equilibrium but so is emotional and mental connection to others. When you know that you belong and are supported it gives you a sense of safety and freedom, which not only relaxes your defenses but also reminds you that you are interconnected with life. So…connecting with people that support and love you will ease much of your stress. Having deep meaningful connection with others when you are isolated or the world is contained is not so easy.
Control Creates Insecurity
Ay, there’s the rub. The ego’s threat detection program focuses on attempting to control what it cannot. “If I can fix what is wrong out there or with this person, then I will be secure, I will be safe.” “If I can control external events everything will be fine.” Control is a defensive losing strategy because it disconnects you not only from others but also from security itself. It sets you up to see the world as separate.
As Alan Watts reveals, “There is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity. But the contradiction lies a little deeper than the mere conflict between the desire for security and the fact of change. If I want to be secure, that is, protected from the flux of life, I am wanting to be separate from life. Yet it is this very sense of separateness, which makes me feel insecure. To be secure means to isolate and fortify the “I,” but it is just the feeling of being an isolated “I” which makes me feel lonely and afraid. In other words, the more security I can get, the more I shall want.” Without that sense of security, I am engulfed in anxiety and stress.
The Way to Everlasting Security is Interior Connection to Presence
Ultimately, rising up from the debilitating carrion of stress and anxiety is metaphorically like the rise of the Phoenix from the fire and ashes. It is an undertaking and journey of the soul. It is a catalyst for tremendous growth. It requires you to remain present with your experience rather than standing apart from it. There is a place within you that is eternally present that is outside of the noise of turmoil. Presence is the light of consciousness at one with all of life. Consciousness has never been separate. It is permanent, secure and stable.
The Interior Connection to Presence Fosters Interconnection with the Unity of Life
Embracing Anxiety into Freedom
Miraculously, more presence in the moment creates an alchemical transmutation within and a higher intensity of awareness. I am more enlivened and conscious. This higher state of connectivity calms me. I can assess my situation and know that I am safe.