Reducing Anxiety

Are you one of the 40 million American adults the National Institute of Mental Health estimates suffers from an anxiety disorder? If so, HeartMath has helpful, soothing information and tips for reducing anxiety and reclaiming your natural harmony.

Recognizing Anxiety

Anxiety can be described as any feeling or combination of feelings that have their roots in some type of fear, including unease, worry, apprehension, dread, powerlessness or a sense of impending danger—real or imagined. Symptoms can be wide-ranging: the mind goes blank or other cognitive functions are lost; you experience obsessive thoughts, phobias, chronic worry, ongoing unease, sweaty palms, tension headaches, trembling, difficulty breathing, dizziness, panic attacks, or increased heart rate and palpitations. Anxiety disorders such as panic attacks may result from certain physiological conditions, most notably heart arrhythmia; anyone who experiences this should seek immediate advice to make sure the cause of the attacks is not physical.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 40 million American adults—that’s 18% of the population—have anxiety disorders, which often begin in childhood. Social phobia alone, when people become overwhelmingly anxious and excessively self-conscious in everyday social situations, affects 15 million adults, and specific phobias, an intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger, affects 19.2 million adults in the U.S. (See Heartmath’s Recommendations)

“Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.”  —Arthur Somers Roche, American journalist, writer, 1883-1935

Anxiety is a feeling, a type of emotion. Some anxiety such as fight or flight is encoded in our genetic makeup and is a normal human response to many of life’s uncertainties, among them nervousness over an impending test or a sought-after job or uneasiness in a relationship or concern over the health of a loved one. Other anxiety producers are speaking or performing in public and worrying in the workplace for a variety of reasons, one of the most common being the employee performance review. It is when anxiety becomes exaggerated, when our caring about ourselves, others, social issues, etc., turns into “overcare” that this otherwise natural human emotion can threaten our well-being.

“As the turbulence of anxiety churns in the subconscious and plays out in your thoughts and actions … it can cause fatigue, sleep disorders, hormone imbalances, health problems and premature aging.” —Transforming Anxiety, Childre, Rozman, 2004

One tip: You’ll be amazed at how much calmer and relaxed you feel after trying these three quick steps adapted from the HeartMath Notice and Ease® tool, which has helped so many reduce their anxiety.

  • Notice and admit what you are feeling.
  • Try to name the feeling.
  • Tell yourself to ease as you gently focus in your heart, relax as you breathe, and ease the stress out.

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