How to Calm Our Anxious Selves

When I was over at a friend’s house recently, I was fascinated watching their six month old kitten playing with a toy mouse. This kitten had never been outdoors, had never been taught to hunt, and had never been exposed to a mouse. Yet she was a natural hunter: she knew instinctively how to sneak up on this stuffed mouse, how to stalk it, snatch it, and grab it in her mouth. This behavior was hard-wired into her genes. We are hardwired too. We have a flight or flight response, part of our evolutionary inheritance, that allows us to escape life-threatening predators and danger. This was particularly useful for survival back in ancient times in the caves and on the savannah. The problem is, much of the time it has become an overly sensitive false alarm in modern day life. It is like the smoke alarm that goes off every time you burn a piece of toast — and imagine that you do a lot of toast burning! I was reflecting on this last night as I awoke in the middle of the night, and noticed anxiety sneaking in as my mind began to generate all kinds of worries, threats, and fears — many of which were exaggerated, unfounded, or projections. How do we quell our anxious minds? What do we do when the smoke alarm is going off over that piece of burnt toast, or traffic jam, or new social situation we are going into, or the presentation we have to give at work, or in the middle of the night when our mind wants to come up with every possible worst-case scenario of things that could go wrong? Excerpt from Psych Central, read the full article here.

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