I was talking to a friend yesterday and somehow the topic of anxiety came up. She had the symptoms of coronavirus for several weeks and had all the worry about her health.
She’s fine now but she did feel anxious about her breathing during those weeks and that led to a vicious cycle of even more constricted breathing. (Which was due to the vagus nerve stress response connections to the lungs, muscles, and diaphragm.)
There are different kinds of anxiety. There is anxiety from the mind about future health. There is anxiety about existential things like dying. There is anxiety from the body produced by the very real decrease in oxygen.
And we talked about all of those differences. Then I asked her where she felt her anxiety and “how do you know you are anxious?”
My friend answered that she has racing thoughts that keep spinning in her head and that’s how she knows she’s anxious.
“That’s interesting,” I said, “because I know I’m anxious when my diaphragm constricts and makes my breathing shallow and when my neck and throat area gets tight … that’s my cue to look more closely at what’s going on.”
And I thought of other people in my life and I see some are like my friend who can identify anxiety from her racing mind and some are like me who can identify anxiety from body tension.
Neither is right or wrong, we all are unique in our mind-body connections. What about you? Where do you “sense” something is wrong? Are you more of a mind person or a body person?