Relax Into the New Year
Emotions, even difficult ones like anxiety, are an essential part of life. They are there to help us respond to what is happening in the world and to the people around us. They evolved to protect us, keep us safe, and keep us connected to other human beings. But because the world we live in today is very different from the world our brains evolved to deal with, its easy to become stressed and overwhelmed with anxiety. When this happens it’s important to learn how to relax and sooth ourselves so that we can feel better and function more effectively.
Our brains evolved to be very sensitive to danger in order to maximize chances for survival. When something is sensed as a threat, our brains will do everything they can to motivate us to protect ourselves. Bu this threat detector (the amygdala of our brain) can sometimes function like a faulty smoke alarm, going off whenever we make a piece of toast.
Our brains have a built in “negativity bias” that constantly scans for anything negative, and can trap us into a state of constant anxiety. Rick Hanson, a psychologist in San Rafael, sums it up by saying that are brains are “teflon for the positive and velcro for the negative.”
In order to restore balance, we may need to step in and intervene to help our nervous system calm down. My next post provides some simple tools to help calm an anxious mind.