This archived article was written by: Josie Sue Slade
Anxiety is an issue that can cripple a person and leave them unable to function doing simple day-to-day tasks. With the end of semester approaching, students study for tests and are swamped with homework. Anxiety isn’t an uncommon problem and is something that plagues almost everyone,
Why do we have anxiety and panic attacks? Our bodies are made to exist in hunting and gathering societies versus the large-scale civilization we now live in. The anxiety we feel now was something put in place to protect us. Our ancestors lived off the land and were put in dangerous situations every day.
Darrin Brandt, director of student services, said, “Let’s say a week before your uncle was killed by a saber tooth tiger, right after a twig broke. The next time you hear a twig break, your physiology leaps into action. Almost instantly the flight-or-fight response is triggered. It’s a very primitive part of the brain based off the very basic need for survival. It was a pretty good system for 10,000 years ago.”
The stress response our bodies have built in pumps chemicals into our bodies and urges us to either flee from the situation or fight. This response takes our hearts from filtering one gallon of blood a minute to five gallons. It increases our blood pressure, makes us sweat and makes every hair on our body stand on end.
What does that mean now? Our bodies didn’t forget this system and it’s still in place now. The problem is not this system, but rather how our society approaches it. Instead of being able to work off these chemicals like we’re supposed to, we find ourselves stuck in a situation and stuck with these chemicals which are telling us to panic.
If you’re sitting in class and a professor decides to surprise you with a pop quiz, your stress response can engage. Immediately your mind goes to the worst possible place. If you fail this quiz, you fail the class. You feel the need to run but it isn’t socially acceptable to do.
You are stuck fighting off all these chemicals and find yourself unable to. Instead you have a panic attack that has a mired of symptoms on its own.
Our minds and bodies are made to keep us safe in situations of high stress. The problem is that our bodies cannot tell the difference between life threatening situations and the modern situations we face today.
Brandt said, “How often does the worst case scenario actually happen? Not very often. Even if the worst-case scenario does happen we still make it through. We are made to make it through. We have to take a moment and remind ourselves that it’s not the end of the world.”
Anxiety is something that can be combated with a change of mindset. We worry and stress about things that won’t matter in the long run. Take a moment to breathe.
“We are so busy all the time. We often forget to take a moment and merely experience the things around us. If we spend a couple times a day merely taking in the things, actually living in the moment, we could be more stress free and happy than we are right now,” Brandt said.
Take a moment to stop and smell the roses. Remember that these things you think are the end of the world are merely a bump on the road to overcome. Life doesn’t need to be filled with stress and anxiety.