There is no doubt that anxiety can be highly uncomfortable, if not unpleasant. Anxiety is rooted in fear that serves as our body’s alarm system. It is a natural and highly necessary system that responds to potential danger. Fear is triggered when we are actually at risk of danger, whereas anxiety is an emotional response in anticipation of danger.
Anxiety and fear are part of our “fight or flight” response. This system helps us decide whether we should get out of a fear-inducing situation (flight) or face it (fight) head on. It serves us well because it kicks in and we don’t even have to think about it!
What is important to remember about anxiety is that it is an anticipatory, meaning the danger is not imminent.
We may ruminate on the bad things that could happen and become anxious about something that has not, or may not even happen. It often takes us out of the present moment and works up uncomfortable bodily sensations.
Alternately, anxiety also shows that we care. When we are anxious about something that is important to us, like doing well on a presentation, a little bit of anxiety can make us more aware. It can serve as a motivator and help us move out of our comfort zones.
Recognizing the purpose of anxiety allows for reflection on what purpose your anxiety is trying to serve. You can take a step back and consider if there is a real threat or if you are perceiving danger. Anxiety is our body’s way to protect us and while it may be uncomfortable at times, it tries to serve us well. Being able to differentiate between anxiety and fear help us better understand the purpose behind anxiety. It would be tough to get by without these signals. If you can take a step back and evaluate the anxiety, you will be able to manage it more effectively.
If you need help recognizing and managing your anxiety, please schedule an appointment with one of our expert counselors.