Body’s Reaction

We’re going to tune into some of the physical sensations that we normally try to avoid when feeling anxious. Doing so can help us better understand and greater tolerate the way our body responds to anxiety.

We’re going to tune into some of the physical sensations that we normally try to avoid when feeling anxious. Doing so can help us better understand and greater tolerate the way our body responds to anxiety.

Our bodies respond rather quickly and automatically in situations where we feel anxious. We may experience bodily felt sensations like rapid heartbeat, sweating, and dizziness.

These sensations typically feel unpleasant and reinforce a sense of danger. We may even believe that the reactions of our bodies are signs that we’ll faint, go insane, or even die. And this can in turn make us feel even more afraid and anxious

But, these bodily reactions are simply part of a survival mechanism called “fight or flee” that prepares our body to take on danger and ensure survival in life-threatening situations.

E.g. if you cross the streets lost in your own thoughts and suddenly see that you’re about to get hit by a car, then the survival mechanism will trigger close to a superhero like reaction that will quickly get you out of the way and into safety.

In this sense, the bodily felt reactions are a sign of your survival system working.

Now, as I said these reactions occur rather quickly and automatically. Thus our slow working and more logic-based part of the brain isn’t activated.

This means it’s possible for us to become anxious and experience strong bodily reactions without there being any real danger. Kind of like an overly sensitive smoke detector that sounds an alarm, even when a single candle is being lit.

This also means that we can’t control the way our body reacts when we become anxious. However, our bodily sensations aren’t dangerous and by getting to know them better we can break the vicious cycle of anxiety by not worrying so much about them.

Here are some of the typical ways the body reacts to anxiety:

Heartbeat: A lot of people experience increased heart rate when feeling anxious. Our heart will beat hard and fast so that blood is being pumped out to the large muscle groups in order for us to fight or flee.

Dizziness: It’s typical to experience shortness of breath and dizziness while feeling anxious. The reason for this is that our breathing becomes faster in order to increase the oxygen supply to the blood.

Nausea: It’s perfectly normal to experience nausea, dry mouth, and upset stomach while feeling anxious. The reason for this is that our digestive system performance is reducing in order to save energy consumption. And this can result in decreased salivary secreting and inactivity in the gastrointestinal system.

If you want to learn more about typical ways for the body to react to anxiety - like sweating, shaking, blurred vision and more - then try out the tool: Body’s Reaction.

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