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Anxiety may have many different causes

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When we talk about anxiety, we are talking about fear in all its various shapes and forms.


Some forms of fear are serving an important function. For example, fear of violence, bloodshed or rape are genuine fears, being alerted to dangers thus allowing us to take preventative action. 


The trouble begins when the fear and worry we experience is not proportionate or when these fears continue to escalate in the absence of any real danger. When this happens the impact on the mind and body can be very destructive indeed, creating both emotional suffering, unhappiness and even physical illness. 


On a mental level, chronic anxiety may impair our decision making and limit our ability to cope with stress, thus impairing our overall effectiveness.


On a physical level, anxiety may cause impaired immune function, muscle tension, upset stomach, heart disease and tiredness.


Anxiety may have many different causes. 


For some people, there is a biological predisposition to anxiety and worry. For example, some people have a neurological difficulty in producing serotonin which is a neurotransmitter effecting mood regulation. Alternatively there may be an overproduction of cortisol which is a hormone the body produces under stress. People falling into this category need medical attention.


This said, not all forms of toxic worry is biological.  


There is a greater proportion of us for whom anxiety is a learned response. This is the place where counselling or psychotherapy may come into play as a useful tool for better understanding ourselves. For those of us simply facing day-to-day worries, then diet, meditation, exercise and a deeper sense of connection with other people and good therapy are invaluable for tackling anxiety.   


I remember a valuable tool suggested by the Dalai Lama who said that “if the situation you are worrying about is something that can be remedied, then there is no reason to worry. If alternatively, there is no solution or no way out, then there is no point in worrying because there is nothing you can do about it anyway.”  Of course, in order to do this we must first address the problem head on. This form of remedy is something we may have to return to time and again. 


One very common form of anxiety experienced by all of us is to fear how we appear to other people. To address this kind of anxiety may be helped by addressing our motivation.  


If we have been sincere in our motivation eg. intended no harm, and we have done our best, then if we fail it is because the situation is beyond our best efforts. This sort of thinking helps to decrease both anxiety and regret.