It has been a busy few months with lots of trainings and some professional presentations but I am now back continuing the series on anxiety.
If you remember from part one of “How not to panic”, we were discussing the amygdala, the brain’s smoke detector if you will. In this post we will discuss another reason we may struggle with a body full of anxiety and another reason the amygdala gets stuck broadcasting a danger signal in the ANS (see previous posts if you have forgotten).
Another part of the body that is involved in the physiological and physical manifestations of anxiety is the viscera, our belly or our guts. When people use the phrases, “listen to your gut, or gut instinct” it is for a good reason. We all have a type of brain (enteric brain) in our gut. The second largest nerve in the body, the vagal nerve, goes from the guts to the brain and 80-90% of the fibers send messages from the gut TO the brain. So if are walking around with your belly in a knot, even if you are in no actual danger, your brain is receiving the message that something is wrong and that message is part of why the amygdala will keep sending out the danger signal.
So in order to being the work of calming your body back down, first be sure there is no actual danger or unpleasantness in your immediate vicinity. Then, if you are still feeling very anxious you will know it is not coming from danger but from your body’s messages.
The next part is the hard work of re-regulating the ANS so that eventually your body will calm down on its own after some stress or minor trauma. Therapy obviously can be helpful but picking a body focused psychotherapist is important for quick resolution. Somatic Experiencing is a great modality for working with anxiety and trauma as well as art therapy, psychodrama therapy and any other body based methods.
The next post will include one of the many relaxation exercises that are helpful in the process of re-regulating your ANS and for calming down our physical bodies and Autonomic Nervous systems.