Let's explore together how feelings contribute to the cycle of fear.
Feelings can be activated from thoughts and thoughts can be activated by feelings.
It's hard to imagine that Anxiety, while causing severe disruption in your head, can also cause a whole army of physical feelings and sensations, but it can.
Feelings are a very important chain link in the cycle that works hard to keep you very fearful and very stuck.
Often people feel unique in their symptoms, like it is only them that have felt a certain way or have felt this bad, but I can promise you that however symptoms manifest in you, someone else will have also felt them and they are nothing new to these conditions.
What you are feeling is normal for where you find yourself right now.
I think it is helpful to start with a description of the kinds of physical feelings and sensations that are typical of Anxiety, Panic and Depression.
- Dizziness and feelings you may faint
- A sensation of dread or impending doom.
- Difficulty focusing/ Visual problems
- Feelings of not being able to breathe or choking sensations
- Heart beats much faster or slower of skips a beat
- Chest pain
- Feeling like intense pressure in the head
- Numbness or pins and needles in fingers/toes
- Feelings that your legs may give way or no longer support you
- Upset stomach
- Feeling of needing to urinate or you are about to have a bowel movement
- Blushing or Embarrassment
- Talking very fast or forgetting your words or even voice breaking up or trembling
- Being easily startled
- Feeling that you are outside of your body or not really here
- A massive urge to run from the situation
- A feeling of extreme tiredness
These very real physical feelings can leave you feeling terrible and only serve to increase your fear of what is happening to you.
It's bewildering as in general we do not associate physical feelings and sensations with something that we know is going on in our head. This is why when we do have all these frightening physical symptoms we start to believe that we must have some terrible physical problem. We associate our feelings with danger and become obsessed with the worst. If we can't breathe we feel we may stop breathing or choke to death and if we suffer chest pains we believe that we are having a heart attack for example.
I hope that you can now see how thoughts and feelings are beginning to mould together to provide the chain link that will soon add behaviours and make up the cycle of Anxiety and fear, but let's link these two together now.
It is about becoming aware that your mind and body are in fact very closely linked, never think of them as separate structures as they work very closely together.
When we have thoughts of terror in response to these physical symptoms we make the physical sensations worse and, this can also work in the opposite way, your physical symptoms then generate more frightening thoughts, it can become a vicious cycle of fear and dread that it is hard to escape from.
The sensations that come with feeling Anxiety and Panic are usually extreme too, very powerful with a very quick on set. This is because your body has been sent a mixed message from your brain that you are in immediate danger and must act, when in actual fact it's a false alarm - you are feeling the fear and are prepared to react, but there is no real danger.
With Anxiety problems, we get the feelings or we get a thought that we pay attention to and concentrate on. We then start to feel really frightened and act as a result of concentrating on the way we feel.
That should tell you this is not a normal fight or flight situation because if you paused when in real danger to concentrate on your feelings first when you did find yourself in a life threatening situation, then you would probably be dead!
So how should you respond to Anxiety and physical sensations so that they no longer hold enough significance to scare you?
It's just like a switch, your Anxiety response button has been pressed and is stuck in 'on mode'. All you have to do to regain normal function this is learn to turn it back off again, in a way in which your body and mind understand.
You need to learn about Panic and Anxiety, see the cycle for what it is and change your habits.
The brain is a changeable organ and it is possible to replace tired habits with newer more positive ones.
" We are what we repeatedly do" is a very true saying!
It is all about changing your perception of what is happening to you.
That said if you are suffering any uncomfortable physical symptoms, in the first instance you should always be checked by your Doctor to make sure there is no physical cause. If your tests do not show any medical issue it is important to accept that this is the case.
Do not keep going back to your Doctor with each symptom or spend hours researching on the Internet, this need to live in symptoms and focus on them is actually a symptom of anxiety and panic and will keep it going. You are giving this a constant focus and that will keep you stuck. You focus needs to come away from monitoring yourself. You may never find the answer or the cause. There often is not an obvious answer and there is no missing piece that will solve Panic or Anxiety in an instant. Going against your instincts to feed the need to stay stuck by giving it all your focus will.
These feelings are actually good, by allowing them to process, allowing yourself to feel it and your mind and body to heal, this will go away.