In my journey with anxiety the most important thing I have discovered is that we have 2 modes of existence. RELAX and RESPONSE.
RELAX:- The relaxation mode is the mode that we need to be able to get in to be able to repair/regenerate/rejuvenate/recover from all our stressors. The deeper we can get into this mode then the quicker we can return to "normal", the quicker our senses can return to their stable baselines, the more our bodily organs can perform to the best of their abilities and IMO this is the mode that anxiety sufferers struggle to return to anymore.
REPSONSE:- The response mode is required in order for us to be able to get things done, get the kids to school, perform in our jobs, make the meals, get the kids ready for bed, etc. but the trouble is, due to life's stressors we can quite easily, and especially anxiety sufferers who are usually that bit higher strung anyway, get "stuck" in response mode. We have deadlines to meet, timetables to work to, etc. and their are not enough hours in the day to do EVERYTHING that we think we need to do!!!!(
), and so we struggle to even recognise the RELAX mode even exists, let alone easily slip back into it - and this in my opinion is where it starts to all go wrong.
I read an article from a professor some years back that went something like this:- Stress, tension and anxiety can be likened to carrying a tin of beans around at arms length all day. If we do this then it will not be too long before the arm starts to get weary and if we continue holding the beans out then it will not be long until tension arises, then due to holding the beans out for longer we will start to feel pain and now chronic stress and tension will arise. Now here's the big one. Once this chronic stress and tension has been experienced IF WE BELIEVE we have to continue carrying the beans around like this then anxiety will surely follow - because we are convince we can't do it, we THINK it can't be done and anxiety arises, now if we can't put those beans done quick then we will worry that what is in front of us is impossible and SO WE BEGIN TO FRET, WORRY AND PANIC
(Look out here comes anxiety!!!).
Now this is a basic explanation of how anxiety works, but what the professor went on to say was "Now we are programmed, now just the thought of having to carry the beans around in the future will induce anxiety and flashes of panic!". And now the really interesting bit for me was, the professors cure for this. "Who was it who convinced us that we had to carry those beans around at arms length all day long? and who says we cannot put them down at times to give our arms a break? All we do to do is to learn to carry the those beans around in a different way and to put them down as often as we can during the day".
I hope you are with me here, but if not then what the hell am I talking about
, well the "beans" are our daily duties, the tasks we need to perform, etc., and the way you carry those beans is your REPSONSE-ability IE: You have the ability to respond to your daily duties in any way you like. So first off to release some of those tensions and the stresses you can choose a different attitude towards what it is you have to do and you can chose a different format in the way you do it by making things less complicated, etc. (do we really have to do EVERYTHING TODAY!!) IE: You can choose to find a way of carrying those beans around differently than the way you were carrying them before - which was inducing all that stress - by simplifying wherever possible.
Secondly you can learn to put those beans down altogether and slip back into the RELAX mode as many times as possible during the day. Look at your kids are they stressed? Do they get stuck in the REPONSE mode? or do they naturally flit between the RELAX and REPSONSE mode depending on what it is they are doing? Learn to be like them, learn to RELAX as much as you can between your activities and LEARN to RESPOND to your duties only as much as you have to and then switch back off again. Take a quick break from carrying those beans, instead of carrying them around at arms length all day.
The "secret" is developing the ability to change our mode. We need the flexibility to be able to swap from one to the other and back again and to not get stuck in either and I believe (and this is my opinion only) that GAD is a "getting stuck" in the response mode and the way out of that is to be able to switch it off and turn on the relax mode again instead.
Now there are lots of ways to switch off the response mode and switch the relaxation mode back on, the best way I found was to change my thinking and to watch my thinking - CBT, Mindfulness, practising awareness, etc. and t simplify my life where possible - to ensure I don't get stuck in the REPONSE mode, or for too long if I do - however I am certain the exact same thing can be achieved with medication, yoga, tai-chi, exercising, sleep, sex, etc., etc. - so it doesn't really matter HOW you learn to get back into the RELAX mode again more regularly as long as you get back there MORE REGULARLY as that is where ALL the mental and emotional healing (repairing/regenerating/rejuvenating/recovering from all our stressors) takes place.
I hope my reply makes sense, read it and re-read it if not because it makes perfect sense to me and I know I'm benefitting greatly from it in these days.
I hope you do too