Hi there! Before you know why managing anxiety is crucial, I hope you’ve read the last post – What do you mean by Anxiety? If not, then reading it is recommended, else continue reading this post.
Our sympathetic nervous system has been evolved to manage short-term acute threats. The threat could be anything, might be an attack or a fight with the other guy whose car you just hit while rash driving! We might attack in response or defend ourselves or the best of all, we might run away from it.
Either way, within a short amount of time, things go back to normal, we can relax again. Right? But when in a situation like COVID, we have no clue how long this is going to last. It is a threat at multiple levels, not what our systems have been exposed to earlier.
Things can go way wrong if the anxiety response becomes chronic.
So, here are a few consequences of stress becoming chronic:
1. It can affect your physical health
There was a research done by Hans Selye, in Montreal, Canada. He was the first to prove your mind can affect your body. A little stress is good to keep us going. But, if it is prolonged, our immunity gets suppressed.
The other day I was listening to an interview of this amazing writer and journalist – Steven Kotler. He mentioned his illness, Lyme disease, and how at one point, he was ready to take his life because of that illness. He then recollected that it was because he made it a huge problem inside his head. That illness took over him. Once he realized that, his body took some time to function again and yet he cured himself of the disease that is still considered incurable.
So, that is an example of how your anxiety can cripple you and how you can get out of it if you are willing to.
2. Our sleep gets disturbed
This can be understood because sleeping means relaxation, and that does not happen when we are in a fight or flee mode mentally.
You might fall asleep due to mental exhaustion from work or other activities, but you might get up in the middle of the night, and suddenly you are fully awake.
3. Nasty feedback cycle gets created
When your sleep messes up, you become more anxious, more disturbed, and again you will try to sleep, but it becomes a vicious cycle.
4. Emotional control/No control
When you are anxious, your emotions are at the surface, you are emotionally vulnerable. So, if someone says something opposite to what you might be thinking or doing, then you might end up fighting with them, or you might cry if you cannot oppose them.
That’s how emotionally fragile you become.
5. Hard time interacting with others
When we are anxious, our fight response is at its best. Like for instance, not being able to sit and talk with someone when you have different viewpoints about the world. It is hard not to say anything when you know you are right. The other person might also think like this. I am glad I understand these things now.
6. If not controlled then?
If we fail to take control of these anxiety responses, then we might see a lot of quarrels, yelling, fighting or violence in extreme cases. It clicked once when I was reading this news the other day that people are witnessing a large number of divorce cases in this pandemic. Now you know why!
Before all of this, we were able to say, “I can manage a little bit of stress, no big deal!”. But we cannot deal with chronic stress if it starts disturbing our sleep, emotional control, health.
“Awareness is a key ingredient in success. If you have it, teach it, if you lack it, seek it.”-Michael B. Kitson
Good news is we can manage it and can live happily even in these tough times. Learning how to do this and starting to incorporate such practice in our daily lives will not only benefit us in the short-term but also it is something you learn for life.
In the next post, we will finally come across the tools to manage anxiety and stress.