Have you ever wondered what anxiety really is? Well now you will be surprised. Anxiety is your “Guardian Angel”. In other words, is good. Thanks to anxiety, antelopes can run and escape when they feel the presence of a predator. If it didn’t exist, they wouldn’t be scared, they wouldn’t be able to react to danger, and they wouldn’t run away.
I’ll give you an example… Imagine that you are walking down the street at the same time that you are having a conversation on WhatsApp – which happens more often than it would be convenient -. Suddenly, you hear the loud honk of a car that is about to run over you. At lightning speed, you look up from your phone towards the place where the loud sound is coming from and turn away in the opposite direction to avoid being hit by the car. Your Autonomic Nervous System and your Motor Nervous System, especially, but also the Central Nervous, the Endocrine, or the Immune, are quickly activated and allow you to run away. And what makes sense? An increase in the heart and respiratory rate, sweating, muscle tension … All your defense mechanisms have been put on alert in order to escape. What have you experienced? A scare. But in reality, you have felt anxiety and, thanks to it, this time, you have escaped unscathed. After the shock, the rates return to normal and the systems return to their “resting” state.
In conclusion, what is anxiety? Anxiety is simply a defense mechanism, an adaptive mechanism. Anxiety allows you to escape from danger, seek safety or support, and avoid adverse situations. It is your body’s alarm system that also works at breakneck speed.
But, what happens when you look up and you don’t identify where the noise is coming from or you know exactly where it is coming from, but you can’t find a way to escape? The alert mechanisms continue to function and anxiety occurs as a pathology, anxiety attacks or in the case of a continuous state of activation, an anxiety disorder.
Throughout life, there are many situations that can generate anxiety, but it will depend on how we face them, and, above all, on how we interpret them, in order to overcome them satisfactorily. If a situation generates fear or insecurity, or we believe that our interests are threatened, either because we don’t believe in our abilities, or due to lack of means, or failed past experiences, or because … it may cause anxiety.
And now a new concept appears: stress, another great enemy and, almost, almost, inseparable from your anxiety. So much so that sometimes they get confused. But stress … we’ll talk another day.