Last week we spoke about worrying and how that brings up anxiety. Today I will talk about how when we enter a new situation, a new relationship, or experience a loss, a trauma, accident, or unpleasant situation; experiencing some anxiety is a normal response. Anxiety is physiologically hard-wired into our nervous systems. When we feel unsafe, it can flood our body like water from a burst dam. Deciding to trust that we will be safe and things will work out, in a new or scary situation is one means of calming down the anxiety response. This decision is part mental, but a big part of the decision is made in our physical body, in our muscle-skeletal system.
When we experience anxiety, all our muscles are tense and braced in anticipation of a threat or danger. This is a natural response and helpful, if there is something we need to fight, or flee from to get to safety. After we attain safety, our muscles should return to a loose, relaxed state. Sometimes this doesn’t happen. Some of us have lived for years with braced muscles, myself included. This causes physical problems, health issues, and lots of pain. Additionally, braced and tight muscles unfortunately keep sending the signal to the primitive brain (avoid mode) that we are still in danger. This vicious cycle, physiological anxiety, causes our minds to race to find the new trouble.
When we perform any of the tools mentioned in the previous blog, mindfulness, guided imagery, meditation, yoga, prayer, relaxation, breathing exercises, etc., we relax our muscles into a posture of safety and trust. We trust that all things will work out, or we will have enough strength to move forward. Relaxing our muscles shuts off the danger signal their tension had been sending to the brain. A tight muscle-skeletal system is not the only source of this signal, but it is one of the significant ones. Tightening against our lives and the events we experience, only increases our anxiety and stress levels. Resting into our lives and trusting in goodness, allows our body to re-ground. We go back down into our trunk & roots, (see previous blog) and the relaxation response reasserts itself. We rest in the goodness of the present moment where we are safe, and lack nothing. We can trust in God, our own body, the goodness of life, the love of our friends. There are many things in which we can trust. Your muscles at least will thank you, and so will your long-term health.
1. What is your response to this blog? Is trusting an easy task for you, or do you live in tension and anxiety much of the time?
2. What do you currently trust in?
3. If you live in tension, which of the following tools would you be willing to begin to consistently utilize to bring relaxation to your body? I.e. Yoga, massage, acupuncture, stretching, relaxation exercises, breath work, etc.
To learn how to evict the anxiety in your life, join one of my 3-wk anxiety reduction workshops. Go to http://www.sdtraumatherapy.com for more information. Mention this blog when you sign up and receive a 10% discount! Happy Loving.