By sheryl lisa paul | dec 13, 2020 | anxiety , health anxiety , intrusive thoughts , relationships | 57 comments some people are called to explore the vicissitudes of depression; johann hari comes to mind. Other are tasked with uncovering the underpinnings of eating disorders, like anita johnston, author of the exquisitely wise book, eating in the light of the moon. For a myriad of reasons, both conscious and unconscious, i have been drawn along the pathways of deeply understanding anxiety, intrusive thoughts, panic, and compulsions. I have become over these many decades a devotee of anxiety, an apprentice to this symptom that expresses itself in so many ways for so many people.
Your brain when you're anxious
Lack of motivation and interest in the things you’d usually do thoughts that seem hazy or difficult to grasp while brain fog is pretty common, it’s not a condition on its own. But it can be a symptom of several issues — anxiety and stress among them. If your brain is a computer, ongoing anxiety and stress are those programs that run in the background and use up tons of memory and make everything else run slowly. Even if you don’t actively focus on anxious thoughts, they often still run in the background of your brain and might contribute to physical symptoms like uneasiness, stomach upset, or fatigue.
When it comes to managing anxiety disorders, william shakespeare’s macbeth had it right when he referred to sleep as the “balm of hurt minds. ” while a full night of slumber stabilizes emotions, a sleepless night can trigger up to a 30% rise in anxiety levels, according to new research from uc berkeley. Researchers have found that the type of sleep most apt to calm and reset the anxious brain is deep sleep, also known as non-rapid eye movement (nrem) slow-wave sleep, a state in which neural oscillations become highly synchronized, and heart rates and blood pressure drop. “we have identified a new function of deep sleep, one that decreases anxiety overnight by reorganizing connections in the brain,” said study senior author matthew walker, a uc berkeley professor of neuroscience and psychology.
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Anxiety works by using a solid collection of ‘what-ifs’ and ‘maybes’ to haul even the strongest, bravest mind from a present that feels manageable and calm, to a future that feels uncertain and threatening. Experiment with staying fully present in the moment. Anchor yourself by opening up your senses. What do you see, feel, hear, taste, know? stay with what is actually happening, rather than what might happen. If this feels uncomfortable, put a time limit on it, let’s say, two minutes to start with. Spend this time fully experiencing the world as it is around you now. Every time you do this, you will be strengthening your ability to pull back from the anxious thoughts that steal you away from the safety and security of where you are.