How to partner with your anxiety, rather than letting it make you miserable

How to partner with your anxiety, rather than letting it make you miserable

By now, we probably all know that it’s OK not be be OK all the time.

That means, it’s OK to feel sad and depressed, anxious and stressed.

Happiness is not something we should ever expect to experience ALL the time.

That being said, we do want to try to “master” unhappiness, to manage stress and anxiety and more.

But by “master”, I don’t mean “fight”. It’s not a battle to be won but rather, an experience to be accepted …

via Fast Company by Morra Aarons-Mele

When anxiety is making you miserable, it’s easy to see it as an enemy that must be vanquished at all costs. But brain science reveals a different story.

The brain’s main job, quite literally, is to keep us alive. It does this not only by regulating things such as heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, but by constantly scanning our environment for potential threats. All of this occurs without our conscious awareness in the limbic system, thought to be the oldest, most primordial part of the brain.

The area of the limbic system we want to zero in on is a complex structure of cells called the amygdala. It’s here that our basic survival mechanisms meet up with our emotions—and not always favorably. Sometimes referred to as our “threat detector,” the amygdala processes fearful or threatening stimuli, triggering the fight, flight, or freeze response when it perceives danger. The amygdala also plays a role in attaching emotional significance to events, which helps encode them in memory. This is why it’s so much easier to remember things that are highly emotional, like the birth of a child or that epic fight with your partner—or an event that scares the crap out of you.

When your brain encodes frightening events into your long-term memory, it’s doing so out of a basic survival instinct: It wants you to avoid situations it perceives as dangerous. And because the amygdala is, evolutionarily speaking, such an old part of the brain, its core training occurred in a time when humans routinely encountered life-threatening dangers like saber-toothed tigers and wolf packs. Though most of us rarely encounter such perils today, this primitive part of our brain still sometimes acts—and reacts—as if we do. Quite simply, we’re wired for fear because we’re wired for survival.

But here’s the thing. Some of us have a hypervigilant amygdala, one that’s a little too excitable and overprotective. A bunch of us have an amygdala that’s both hypervigilant and trigger-happy, leaving us jumpy and prone to assuming that behind every rustling bush lurks a saber-toothed tiger, when it’s just the wind…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE