When I used to suffer from worry and anxiety I’d jump from one crisis to the next. People would tell me to just forget about it, let it go and I’d try that but it wouldn’t work and even when one mess had finished I’d find myself confronted with another because I was addicted to worrying, to feeling anxious.
When I was going from some of the darkest points of my life I actually got a weird pleasure from my worries. It felt good to feel bad, suffering made me feel alive and it helped me repress things I didn’t want to deal with. “Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering” ― C.G. Jung.
I Made Problems Larger Not Smaller
I got a secondary gain from creating drama and suffering from worry but there’s more to it than that because worry is actually physically addictive just like alcoholism or any other kind of drug addiction. As I say on my site here, https://anxietyhypnotherapist.co.uk/ when we are in the fight or flight response our body is releasing all kinds of stress hormones such as cortisol, cortisol raises your heart rate so that blood and nutrients can get to your muscles it increases your blood sugar. If you were in immediate danger you would find the effects of cortisol to be extremely beneficial it would allow you to either fight or run away.
Stress, Anxiety, Worrying and Dopamine
Just like any drug the more we are exposed to cortisol the more we build a tolerance to it but research has shown that chronic stress, worrying and anxiety actually causes changes in the brain and can cause these responses to become addictive. There is a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens and it is operated by two neurotransmitters associated with desire and satiety, dopamine and serotonin. Just like drugs cortisol increases the amount of dopamine in this part of the brain and this can make stress, anxiety and worry addictive.
Breaking The Addiction
To begin breaking the addiction to worry we need to turn off the fight or flight response, I show a number of ways to do this in my anxiety reduction workshop a video of a previous workshop can be found below.
In the workshop, I discuss how chewing gum can move us out of the fight or flight response as it tricks our mind into believing we are eating and if we are eating we are not in danger, I also show a number of breathing techniques which help to calm us down.
Other Things You Can Do To Reduce Worry
- Reduce caffeine intake, I don’t drink coffee after 3 in the afternoon and I wait at least 30 minutes after waking up in the morning before my first cup as right after waking up is when cortisol levels are at their highest.
- Reduce sugary foods, eating a lot of sugary, high calorie food can fuel the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Don’t watch the T.V or news, try not to watch violent films especially before bed.
- Avoid toxic people and maintain healthy boundaries.
- Practice meditation and mindfulness, practicing meditation and mindfulness helps us to detach from our thoughts and stop them controlling our lives. It enables us to pause and consider responses before we react to toxic people or stressful situations.