The Anatomy of Anxiety + 5 Ways to Help

This post is me thinking out loud, as I try to sort through some ideas and concepts bouncing around in my head. Some of them have gelled, some are not fully formed yet.

Like physical anatomy, it’s broken down into component parts for explanatory purposes – one part not being independent of the others. As with all disease, I recognize that anxiety is multi-factorial, and that other considerations (chemical & nutritional imbalance, traumatic experiences, etc.) come into play. I’ve distilled my observations into basic components from which my understanding of the state can continue to develop and expand.

As a holistic health student, I was promised that clients would show up with the very thing I needed to learn… or heal within myself. Indeed, ailments showed up in clusters, honing my skills with various issues, and brought me countless lessons for my own health and growth.

Last year, when my GP suggested that my adult-onset asthma was anxiety-based, I’d brushed it off. My acupressure practitioner then told me the state of my tongue indicated anxiety. The word anxiety started crossing the lips of more & more of my clients. In the last few months, two of my dearest friends confided their struggles with it.

OK Universe, I get it!

Time to own that the picture fits, examine my experiences and those of others, and put some serious thought into what’s going on.

What I’ve come to observe is this: it’s electrical.

uncontrolled lightningAnxiety is a state of unused potential energy.

It’s easiest to understand physically, like what happens when you get over-stimulated by too much sugar, say. You get spacey, your nerve-endings vibrate frenetically and you’re filled with a restless inability to settle. You might even get heart palpitations.

We tend to balance an offending escalation of erratic energy with equal and opposite energy.

We balance our use of too much sugar with an over-consumption of meat, which comes with its own set of health issues.

Anxiety, the disorder characterized by feelings of fear, occurs when that same jittery restlessness happens within the 4 levels of the psyche. It’s an erratic state of unused internal potential – completely out of control. Like an electrical current that’s built up with nowhere to release, you go haywire (have a panic attack).

The age of information has us completely over-stimulated mentally. Too much CNN and our fears are off the scale. Too many nutrition blogs and we don’t know what to eat. Too many self-help videos and we feel helpless.

We breach the fine line between healthy awareness and information overload all the time. We breach the fine line between healthy stress and anxiety.

I see it most clearly in my newly pregnant clients, who, instead of being filled with the joy and beauty of new life, are afraid to put a toe out of line (or the wrong bite of food in their mouth) lest it hurt the baby.

No matter the source of our worries, we try to quiet our whirling thoughts with too much TV or net surfing, which really only stimulate the nervous system further.

Emotionally, the mental & physical over-stimulation has turned us into cortisol and adrenaline junkies. Coffee, extreme sports, the evening news, relationship, money & work issues, the increasing intensity of our favourite TV shows (which we watch to relax!): we spend the entire day keeping that high going.

From a physiological point of view, these constant hits of emotional high drain the adrenals (our batteries) and leave us in a constant state of alert, anticipating disaster: fear.

Then, we close ourselves off from the full range of feelings in our bodies with medication, junk food, alcohol & other drugs, and yet more TV & Facebook.

Last year, I had a client with anxiety that was rooted in a long-suppressed piece of grief and anger, which she refused to address. A recent event brought it all up again, yet she continued to dance around the part that needed to be faced head-on.

Emotions are energy-in-motion. The harder you work at resisting the energy that wants to emerge, the more it’ll push back. You eventually lose stamina, have panic attacks or burn out.

It’s happening spiritually too, as not enough time & energy spent in communion with the greater Whole.

I think of my grandmother, and other women of her generation, with a deep devotion to Mary and the Catholic church. It was always a foreign concept to me, as I’d thrown religion out the window. For years, my sense of spirituality had gone with it.

Instead, we idolize the rich & famous, we worship sports teams, we diet & exercise with religious fervour. We don’t spend enough time in the present moment. We spend too much time analyzing the past and worrying about the future.

In the case of Meggan Watterson, it wasn’t a suppression of her spiritual energy that caused the build-up of potential. It was a lack of direction for that potential to flow, as she struggled with the denial of the Divine Feminine within western theology.

The last piece of the anxiety puzzle is our unused intuitive or psychic energy. This aspect of who we are has been so forcefully & perpetually negated that there’s a nigh insurmountable back-log of fear around letting it flow.

Many intuitives suffer from anxiety. This one’s a two-edged sword. First, in that you would be highly vulnerable to the energies around you: others’ emotional states, electro-magnetic pulses from countless electronics, the low-frequency vibrations from all the fear-mongering.

(We’re all sensitive to these influences, some of us are merely more tuned into them, and their effects.)

The second challenge for psychic anxiety is to own (and open up to) the vast potential behind it. I’ve heard that the Long Island Medium suffered from debilitating anxiety disorder until she started using her gift.

And then there’s the increased incidence of all this during perimenopause (Nature’s time of dispersing unused potential), but that’s a whole topic for another day.

The wiser solution for addressing anxiety is also a simple matter of electricity.

When I use the word “simple” I don’t mean to belittle the condition or deny the challenge involved in overcoming it. (Simple is not necessarily easy.)

grounded lightning

To reduce the danger of too much unused potential energy, ground it or convert it to kinetic.

With the (physical) sugar example, this would mean, well, stop eating so much sugar. Then, ground your body with mineral-rich greens and engage in some physical activity to burn off the excess.

Internally, you could

  1. Ground yourself…literally. Find a way to connect with Nature – walk in the woods, sit under a tree at the local park, play in the grass with your dog or your kid, dig in the garden.
  2. Come back to the safety of the present moment with a grounding meditation. When one of my anxious friends asked me how to do this, I recorded the one that helps me best when I’m completely out of sorts. Click here to read more about it and get your copy.
  3. Acknowledge the state you’re in and deal with the underlying issue. Hire a professional/coach/therapist to help you through whatever is worrying you the most right now.
  4. Express yourself! Draw, paint, carve, dance, sing, write – find an art-form that resonates with you and moves the energy.
  5. Get together with friends (or a support group) who will listen to you unconditionally, who will help you name and honour your feelings, who will celebrate your gifts in all their glory.

How does this theory resonate with your experience of anxiety? How have you effectively dealt with anxiety? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

Share the wisdom in this post using any (or all!) of these buttons: