top of page

Understanding How Anxiety Works

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

What happens when you're excited?

Your heart races, your breathing rate increases, you might get jelly legs, go a little shaky and you may get a dry mouth. You might be so excited that you can’t get your words out.

What happens when you first get that feeling of being in love?

Your heart races, your breathing rate increases, you might get jelly legs, go a little shaky and you may get a dry mouth. You might even stumble over your words.

What about when you're anxious? Your heart races, your breathing rate increases, you might get jelly legs, go a little shaky and you may even get a dry mouth. You might not even be able to get your words out.


So, if you think about it, there's no difference physically. Physically they're all the same. Why are they all called different things then? What is the difference between them?

Literally it’s just what you call them. It's the words that you assign to them. That’s what deciphers what your emotions are. And that tends to come down to context; to where you are, what you’re doing, your past experiences and whether they were pleasant or unpleasant. That’s how you then determine what to label those physical feelings.

Those labels themselves are then associated with the experience, either pleasant or unpleasant. We might say that a certain place or person makes us feel anxious. Or that we are really excited about going to an event or trying something new. Or it might be that we say that we love a certain person or type of food. These statements can all, of course be true, however, they may not be.

We can easily get mixed up. Especially if the particular experience resonates with you on a personal level, if you have a strong memory for something it’s usually because your emotions were heightened at the time. So, when anything reminds you of that, you are more likely to experience the present through the lens of that past emotion.

Let’s take Zara for example. She was going to a gig and said that she was anxious. She perceived going to gigs as anxiety inducing situations. Possibly because she had heard someone else say that they get anxious at gigs, or because she had had physical experiences at gigs previously that she could not explain. In fact, this is what had happened. Last summer she had felt really dizzy and nauseous whilst at a music event. She ended up leaving without seeing the band she’d paid to see. This has put her off going to any events where there may be crowds. Now, if she were to be able to think ‘I'm going to a gig, those physical sensation I experienced last time were excitement and I’m likely to feel them again, but now that I know, I don’t need to worry about them.’ She is less likely to feel nervous about booking her tickets again and much more likely to label those feelings as excitement. She would have exactly the same physical feelings but experience them in a more positive way.

Obviously, it isn’t easy to just change what you say to yourself. It does take practice. But it can be so worth it in the end.

So next time you're going somewhere, and you think that you feel anxious, how about reminding yourself that it is ok to have those physical sensations because they might mean that you're exited?

If you are consistently feeling anxious, you also might want to check in with your emotions. You may or may not realized but they might probably all over the place which can also trigger those anxious thoughts.

In the article that I wrote, I tackled why my emotions are all over the place, this might also give you a different perspective and help you understand more about emotions and how you can deal with emotions SAFELY.



bottom of page