When we perceive the danger our body starts the anxiety response mechanism, significantly increasing the production of adrenaline and cortisol.
Cortisol is the stress hormone but it has two other important functions, it keeps us active throughout the day and regulates our sleep at night. Therefore a moderate level of cortisol is necessary. The problem arises when the cortisol level is kept constantly high, causing damage to our organism.
Often our body is unconsciously put on alert due to our own psychological attitudes and emotions.
Emotions in situations that have not yet occurred, such as impatience, anguish, anger and fear, can produce the same type of nerve impulses and chemical reactions as if we were facing a real and concrete situation.
The same goes for imagined fears or dreads.
“Our attitudes, our way of thinking, our beliefs, our way of dealing with conflicts, … condition our cortisol level.”
Does that mean that our thinking can alter brain biochemistry?
The answer is YES.
We can train our thinking to reduce the level of cortisol and increase it with serotonin.
Our brain has great plasticity and through learning it generates new neural connections. It is essential to dedicate time to strengthen positive learning. It is a training, like the one we do to strengthen our muscles, to learn how to play a sport or play a musical instrument, but much more important.
Here are three exercises that can help you understand and manage your anxiety:
Support exercise 1/3
“The power of the mind”
Sit relaxed, in a safe and quiet place, take your pulse for a minute and record the result.
Close your eyes and visualize or imagine in detail for at least 2 minutes a potentially “dangerous” situation, which usually causes you anxiety.
Take your pulse for a minute and record the result.
Usually the following occurs: in step 1 you have about 70 heartbeats and after the viewing of the “dangerous” situation, your heartbeats have increased between 15 and 40%. How is this possible if you have not moved from the chair?
Your body has prepared to face what you live as a danger. Your anxiety response has been activated. Your thinking has generated an emotional response of fear or anguish.
Your thinking has a lot of power. Learn how to train it.
Support exercise 2/3
“Micro physiological responses”
Learn to focus on your micro physiological responses and intervene in them before they get bigger, prevents anxiety from being triggered.
I have the blank exam sheet in front of me and I realize that my breathing is accelerating, I am aware of the physiological response.
I intervene, I start breathing with the diaphragm, I fill my mouth with saliva, chewing gum, … I act to counteract the first physiological response so that the whole anxious sequence is not triggered.