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Anxiety - What to Do?

Photo courtesy of christina.bendinger

 

If you live with chronic anxiety, you know that it can truly become disabling.  Even if you don’t suffer to that extent, it’s worth making every effort to tone it down and regain some control of your life.  I won’t talk about all the health consequences, it’ll only make you more anxious!  You can ask about that after you’ve got things under control.

 

Although there are many factors that contribute to anxiety, neurologically, the problem is in a part of the brain called the pre-frontal cortex, specifically the right pre-frontal cortex (PFC).  There is another part of the brain involved called the temporal lobe.  The temporal lobe is where emotional responses are organized.  These two parts of the brain work together with the pre-frontal cortex having the very important function of controlling or dampening the temporal lobe.  In other words, if the PFC is weak, the temporal lobe goes crazy.  It is much like how kids might behave if there were no parents around to keep things under control.

 

Anxiety is definitely not a result of a drug deficiency.  The brain chemical imbalances are a result of the problem, not the cause.

 

Because your body and your thoughts have a profound influence on brain function, there is much you can do to regain control.  Here are some powerful suggestions.

 

  1. Exercise – I know you’ve heard this before but you may not realize that the greatest benefit of exercise is on the brain.  Cardiovascular benefits are secondary.  Walking, hiking, jogging and the like trigger powerful stimulation of the PFC.  This in turn dampens the temporal lobe escape.  This is the primary reason you feel better after exercise.
  2. Conversation – Studies show that meaningful conversation with other people has a much more profound effect on depression and anxiety than drugs.  Cultivate your friendships and meet often.
  3. Seek new experiences – The right PFC is stimulated by new activities.  So contrary to what you’d like to do, move a little outside your comfort zone.  You’ll feel anxious in the moment but better in the long run.  New experiences will also give you more to talk about when you meet with your friends.
  4. Think of others – The right PFC is “other” centered.  Since we want to activate this side of the brain, quit thinking about “you” (left brain) and start thinking about others.  Cultivate your heart and develop your empathy for others.  You’ll soon see your anxiety diminish.

 

When you are persistent with these practices, over time, you’ll feel a definite improvement in you anxiety levels.

 

What practices have you found to be most effective curtailing your anxiety?

 

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