Anxiety Pt. 1: It’s More Normal Than You Think

Nobody really wants to admit to feeling anxious, let alone, having anxiety. 

But, turns out, it’s actually quite normal – so, let’s talk about it. 

It’s Everywhere – and Nowhere

Maintaining our physical health is unnegotiable; we need to do our best to eat well and exercise so that our bodies can be in good shape and health, right?

Yet, for some reason, it appears we’re overlooking one crucial organ in this vital endeavour – arguably, the most demanding one of all: the brain.

In most places, mental health is not yet synonymous with health.

And where mental health remains somewhat taboo, it’s sure easy to fool ourselves into thinking we’re the only ones dealing with it (when – psst! – we’re not).

Anxiety is also a little more normal than you think; it’s something we all feel, in different forms and at different times, but anxious nonetheless. Some may have found a way to “shrug it off” more easily and, for others, it can tend to “stick around” for a little longer.

Anxiousness Defended Us from Dangers – Now, from Ourselves?

Feeling anxious is a natural response that evolved to defend us from any danger. Interestingly, while animals generally return to their standard mode of functioning after the danger has passed, we humans have developed a tendency to fixate our sense of anxiousness on perceived dangers, regardless of their passing. Such fixation can also occur towards a hypothetical danger; one that hasn’t happened, isn’t about to and, possibly, never will. 

Needless to say, being consistently or chronically anxious can have a severe negative impact on many facets of everyday life and overall health.

Social anxiety, one form of anxiety, is likely to originate from our need to feel socially included. One could argue that the ability to be self-critical is necessary for achieving greater self-awareness; a valuable feat to, ultimately, not be ostracised from our desired communities.

Unfortunately, the irony is that we can doubt and fear these social circumstances so much that, you could say, we end up “ostracising” ourselves from our own social circles.

It seems that feelings of anxiousness have taken an increasingly complex and sophisticated turn within us. While there’s certainly a lot to uncover here, one thing’s for sure: there’s got to be nothing more estranging than feeling something so firmly about something that, at the same time, feels so unfounded.

So, let’s see if we can harness a better understanding of it.

Physically, What’s Going On With Anxiety?

In many ways, it’s a physiological reaction we have lots to thank for by trying to defend us from potential dangers; your body shoots off chemicals that put you into an alert state and that ready you for the “fight-or-flight” reaction.

You may now have sweaty palms, a racing mind and a galloping heartbeat.

The thing is you’re often just waiting for a banal phone call, standing in a queue to pay the cashier or going to a seemingly cheery social gathering.

Rationally, it can be painfully clear that there isn’t any danger. Still, it can be incredibly difficult to dismiss it once the “shots have fired” in your mind. Understandably so, considering that, in a way, you’re standing in what you’re considering your “battleground”. 

Essentially, this is like a tug-of-war between your rational prefrontal cortex and more primal instincts. The latter, however, just happens to have evolved for many more millions of years and then tends to have a more solid “grip” on your body.

What Do You Think it Means to Be “Vulnerable”?

In a society, how we generally approach or manage anything is but a cultural norm – and these can take on many forms.

So, when it comes to certain vulnerabilities, some communities may appear to conceal them, others are more willing to discuss them – and some even celebrate them. 

An aboriginal tribe in Malaya called “Chewong” characterise some of their Gods by “tearfulness, timidity and retreat in the face of perceived danger”. As such, you will encounter members of the tribe telling proud tales of when they had to make critical decisions to escape from danger, as a sign of wisdom.

Cultures, and whatever’s deemed “normal” in them, have already meant a million different things and are ready to mean many more. 

What do you think should be next for yours?

If We Could Just Say “It’s Ok”, That Might Already Go a Long Way

Each of our relationships with anxiousness is, without a doubt, a highly personal one and requires case-by-case attention. 

But, boiled down, it’s a “simple” matter of wiring and rewiring neural connections in our brains. Basically, certain neural connections lead us to certain behaviours. If we’d like to become more prevalent in one form of behaviour, we need to “reconfigure” these neural patterns by introducing new actions and some regular repetition. In a way, we need to train our minds to reshape how we perceive things and, in this case, whatever it is that makes us anxious.

So, from a social standpoint, how could we promote these supportive acts of “rewiring” in each other?

A good community-led approach might be by saying: “let’s have a normal conversation around a normal topic by normalising the facts.”

A fact we all need to remember is that everybody’s dealing with mental health, in one way or another. Another fact is that anxiety is the number one mental health disorder we’re facing today.

While anxiety is nothing positive, we can associate what we can do about anxiety with something more positive.

Still curious about anxiety? Read in part 2 what our social landscape for anxiety looks like today and what more we could be doing to tackle this global issue.

In our final part 3, you can find our highlight of studies that support the scientific relationship between CBD and anxiety.

Stay up-to-date with LAYV’s mission: subscribe to our Newsletter and join our Community.

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