According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 260 million people suffer from anxiety disorders. The precise causes of anxiety are unknown, although mental health studies attribute them to genetics, environment, and personal experience.
What experts do know is that anxiety is largely attributed to psychological disorders. How you think has a knock-on effect on your biological system.
What’s more, psychological disorders can easily be avoided because the mind creates a perception of reality that is not always true. But what the mind can create, the mind can cure.
In the 1950’s, the Hungarian physician, Hans Selye coined the word ‘stress’ and theorised that individuals respond to threatening situations in the same way – the brain triggers a survival mechanism such as adrenaline which shuts down the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS).
The ancient Greeks used a similar concept Hippocrates called ponos. The ‘Father of Modern Medicine’ discovered that prolonged exposure to stress is a significant burden to the body.
Ponos would later be written into Greek mythology as the God of hard labour which is literally associated with the toil of work. However, when the meaning is applied symbolically, it reveals how the body suffers from the release of neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are released naturally in the brain. They cause us to have feelings and carry messages from the brain to the body so that it functions as it is supposed to. Thoughts trigger neurotransmitters that the subconscious mind associates with an emotion.
When you have a negative thought or an experience you associate with a fear-based emotion, the subconscious mind tries to protect you from a perceived threat by releasing adrenaline. You may have heard this called the fight, flight, or freeze response (FFF).
Neurotransmitters are essentially nature’s way of self-preservation. One job the subconscious performs is to protect you and helps you survive physical and emotional threats. Once the perceived threat has gone, your bodily functions return to normal and the body cleans away the toxic chemicals so it can grow and heal.
However, because modern lifestyles cause the brain to trigger stress hormones on a regular basis, the body struggles to regulate toxic chemicals. As a result, mental and physical illnesses develop, one of which manifests of anxiety.
Anxiety Starts in the Mind
The root cause of anxiety will be different for everyone, but in general, it is a psychological disorder that originates from a false perception manufactured by the mind.
And the subconscious mind has a terrible way of inventing stories that convert stress into distress.
Jung said: The unconscious is not just evil by nature, it is also the source of the highest good: not only dark but also light, not only bestial, semihuman, and demonic but superhuman, spiritual, and, in the classical sense of the word, “divine.”
Perceived threats cause the mind to close down in order to protect you emotionally. If this happens on a regular basis, you will develop psychological patterns of negative thinking which can be dangerous to your mental and physical health.
I know this from personal experience.
When I was a teenager I suffered from stress-induced anxiety. Because I had different thoughts and ideas to other kids in my school, I developed the belief that nobody liked me. Most days I felt like an outcast, alone and miserable.
In reality, I had a lot of friends. However, I was small, and together with my alternative views was an easy target for ridicule. I got picked on a lot. As a result, I lacked confidence in social environments and was often afraid to speak to anybody – especially girls and strangers.
There were times when I was walking to school that my stomach would churn and my legs felt weak. At the time, I didn’t realise this was anxiety festering throughout my body.
These feelings of insecurity and inferiority became worse throughout my 20’s and well into my 30’s. In my mind, people didn’t like me, and I developed an emotional barrier to protect my feelings. As a result, many of my relationships and experiences were ruined.
When I was 31, I had a full blown anxiety attack. My entire body froze, I was vomiting, and I couldn’t breathe. At one point I seriously thought I was going to die.
To overcome my anxiety disorder, I visited several psychologists. They explored my feelings for an hour and for a short time after each session I felt better. But as I lay in bed at night, that familiar heavy feeling lingered in my stomach. I was prescribed anti-depression pills that made me feel worse.
I decided conventional medicine was a waste of time of money. So I turned to meditation. At first, that made the anxiety worse, because I was not relaxing. Furthermore, I was not meditating properly – I was using a handbook method which, practically, is useless.
Once I mastered the art of meditation during my trip to Peru, I developed mechanisms that enabled me to relax my mind, and subsequently my body. I then developed a technique that enabled me to determine the root cause for my anxiety. Then I was able to remove the emotional wounds that were responsible for the subconscious programming.
Causes of Anxiety
The pinnacle of my anxiety disorder occurred in 2006. In the subsequent three years, it became apparent psychology had not accounted for the mind’s role in causing anxiety. It was certainly never explored by the practitioners I visited.
Today, brain chemistry is being studied much closer with the use of fMRI technology. Researchers now think that the areas of your brain that control fear responses may be involved.
This diagnosis makes perfect sense. Studies have shown that anxiety is generally linked to experiences in life that trigger the FFF. Common problems include:
- Physical or emotional abuse
- Physical or emotional neglect from parents
- Losing a parent, or divorce
- Being bullied or socially excluded
- Physical or mental health conditions
- Parents that are perfectionists
Life experiences such as these cause a lack of self-esteem. They can make a person easily flustered and feel inhibited. As a result, you become timid and the anxiety gets even worse.
Anxiety can often start in childhood and become exacerbated by the pressures of being an adult. However, that is not always the case. Anxiety in adults can also develop due to:
- Stress at work
- Unemployment / money concerns
- Change of living arrangements
- Making friends
- Finding a sexual partner
- Relationship problems
- Major emotional shock
- Traumatic event
- Death of a loved one
- Chronic illness
- Substance abuse
Regardless of the cause of anxiety, the disorder should be addressed before it becomes debilitating to your life. Some people don’t even realise they have anxiety until it manifests as an attack.
When you meditate, or just sit still and observe your feelings, you can self-diagnose whether you have anxiety or not.
Master Mind Content has developed a system that incorporates several techniques you can use to help you overcome anxiety and depression. We teach these techniques in our 9-step anxiety and depression program together with our 11-step self-development program.
To give you an idea of what you can expect when you work with Master Mind Content, we have shared some of our technique with you below.
1. Jacobson’s Muscle Relaxation Therapy
Jacobson’s muscle relaxation therapy is a great exercise to perform just before you go to sleep. It helps you loosen the tension built up during the day and helps you get a good night’s sleep – which also helps combat anxiety.
I’ve dealt with the mechanics of Jacobson’s muscle relaxation therapy in a previous article, so won’t go over it again here. But please do check it out.
In all honesty, Jacobson’s muscle relaxation therapy will not cure your anxiety alone but is a good method of helping you feel more relaxed – and once you’re in a relaxed state, it is easier to work with other techniques used by Master Mind Content that do cure anxiety.
Also, for more tips about how to sleep with anxiety, check out the advice from the guys at Tuck. They are experts in this field and offer some great advice.
(Disclaimer: I have no association with Tuck, nor am I involved in an affiliate program with the company. I just appreciate the work they do and feel their advice is worth sharing with you).
2. Improve Your Diet
Anxiety is a symptom of stress and although the principle causes are physical, mental or emotional influences, the condition can be aggravated by chemicals. Therefore, anxiety can be improved or worsened by what you eat.
Scientists have discovered that a healthy diet rich in probiotics help to alleviate anxiety. When you consider that emotions arise from the sacral chakra in the pit of the stomach, this makes sense.
Altering the bacteria in your gut has an impact on your brain function and can positively affect your moods. Probiotics produce various active compounds which interact with neurochemicals produced by the brain.
A study performed on psychology students that were prone to high anxiety at the College of William and Mary reported they experienced fewer symptoms of social tension after keeping to a diet of fermented foods.
We already know that probiotics alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms, and that anxiety is accompanied with turbulence in the stomach. It was discovered that the intervention of probiotics helped to ease neuroticism because the body was able to respond to stress better.
Food that is rich in probiotics include:
- Wholegrain breads and cereals
- Tea (especially Chamomile and Kombucha)
- And you’ll be pleased to know – dark chocolate
If you do suffer from stress and anxiety, avoid caffeine, alcohol, dairy, sodas and fried/fast foods.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Anxiety is predominantly caused by the mind. The stories you create in your head are usually false perceptions. And because society is designed to make you have negative thoughts, they act as self-depreciating values which makes your anxiety worsen as you get older.
Taking charge of your mind is key to curing anxiety. It is therefore prudent to be mindful of your thoughts. When you have a negative thought, notice it, and try to alter your way of thinking by looking for the positive spin on the situation.
And there is always a positive spin.
Worry, anger, hate, stress and all the other negative thoughts that emerge from fear-based emotions are damaging to your mental and physical health.
You can use mindfulness techniques to understand where these feelings are coming from, and once you know the source, you have the power to reprogram your mind.
“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” - Thich Nhat Hanh
4. Repeat Positive Affirmations
It seems that every alternative therapist suggests using positive affirmations to help change mental programs and encourage positive thoughts and emotions.
The reason for this is that affirmations work – but only if they are performed correctly. Standing in front of a mirror and repeating mantras over and over is not a solution. However, mantras have been used for the purpose of self-development for thousands of years.
The benefits of repeating affirmations are not lost on the scientific community. Neuroscientists have a saying: “What is fired is wired.” When you have a thought, it fires a neuron in the brain which then carries a message to other parts of the body.
When a thought, idea, belief system, or action is fired often enough it becomes wired – in other words, it fixes itself to you and becomes part of your permanent makeup.
Thoughts trigger emotions and emotions prompt actions. The energies this triumvirate of conditions generate becomes your personality, characteristics and gait.
Therefore, when attempting to release yourself from negative thinking patterns and install positive programs into your subconscious, you have to evoke the appropriate emotion you want to associate with a thought.
Remember that thoughts trigger emotions. Emotions are associated with the release of neurochemicals which send messages throughout your body. It is this process that becomes wired and makes you who are are.
People that suffer from anxiety have thoughts and emotions that promotes neurochemicals that cause social tension. Use self-talk to switch negative thoughts into positive outlooks, and use your imagination to invoke emotions you want to relate to specific thoughts.
You can do all this by learning how to use positive affirmation in the correct way. With practice, you will master your mind and learn to take control of your emotions. Then you can kiss goodbye to feeling anxious about anything.
5. Observe Your Unconscious
Theories about the unconscious mind vary widely in the field of psychology. For me, the theories of Carl Jung and Jean Piaget resonate the most – together with Sigmund Freud’s topographical model of the Mind, of course.
It is understood that the subconscious mind also performs many functionalities. One of the most important, that often gets overlooked, is that the subconscious attempts to communicate with you through emotions, symbols and physical prompts such as aches and pains.
When you observe your unconscious and understand what these prompts are, you are better placed to make decisions that improve your life. And good decision making is required for all aspects of your life.
Master Mind Content has extensive knowledge and a library of content that helps you read and understand your subconscious through sacred symbolism.
We are also working to better understand metaphysical symptoms of pain which you can use to help release blocked energies that are typically caused by thoughts and actions that hold you back. Your unconscious wants you to stride forward.
If you suffer with anxiety, depression or other issue that you feel limits your enjoyment of life, contact Master Mind Content and learn how powerful your mind really is. We have a 9-step anti-anxiety and depression program that walks you through powerful techniques and philosophies that we trust will help you overcome your anxieties so you can start to enjoy life.