Anxiety is a significant part of human experience. Anxiety is adaptive and essential. In its absence we would be hard-pressed to survive. The experience of anxiety can however be overwhelming and very destructive.
Anxiety is a state of alertness. Anxiety is imploring us to pay attention to our circumstance, to be inquisitive and curious, to come to some conclusion as to the most appropriate course of action. Commonly we may feel anxious about something unknown in our future, or about our ability to handle something. If we pay attention to this emotion, it can support success in navigating our current circumstance; if we do not, this attention and energy may become burdensome.
When anxiety is ignored or if we focus on the feeling rather than what the feeling is compelling us to attend to, it can become overwhelming. When people start worrying excessively, about anything, we call this a generalized anxiety. Someone struggling with generalized anxiety may constantly be anticipating negative experience and worrying excessively.
Sometimes anxiety takes the shape of a phobia; a profound, specific, and often unreasonable fear. There are specific protocols to manage phobias including exposure therapies and stress inoculation.
Anxiety is also a significant part of trauma, post-traumatic stress, and complex trauma. Learning to regulate the biological responses to threat cues is the first step in integrating experiences through talk therapy in the pursuit of wellness.
Anxiety is often overwhelming and debilitating. There is hope. By understanding the nature of anxiety, recognizing the adaptive response that it is, and by learning a set of instructions that support navigating anxiety, you will be in a position to use it rather than be consumed by it.