Portraying the emotion of anxiety

Emotions can’t be told. They have to be shown

 
#FeelLines runs every Thursday on Twitter. The weekly theme is based on an emotion. The aim is to show a line where a character in your writing expresses this emotion.
 

Expressing the emotion of anxiety

 
The definition of anxiety is the state of feeling nervous or worried that something bad is going to happen.
 
 
Anxiety is a common emotion that we will all feel during our lives. It is the state of fear from the anticipation of a real or imagined threat, event or situation.
 
The perception of the threat can be from an internal or external stimulus. For example, an internal stimulus could be a negative thought about your health or your source of income. An external stimulus could be seeing a polar bear in your back garden.
 
This stimulus leads to a feeling of apprehension triggering physical sensations such as:
  • Palpitations
  • Breathlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • A restless leg
  • Wringing hands
  • Toying with jewellery or a loose piece of fabric or a lock of hair
  • Repetitive checking, e.g phone messages, locks on doors, a loaded weapon.
 
Or mental responses like:
  • Only being able to see the worst possible outcome (unable to find solutions to the problem)
  • Replaying the stimulus in their head
  • Self blame
  • Excessive worrying
 
This could lead to a full blown anxiety or panic attack, and a feeling of loss of control.
 

The ‘fight or flight’ response

Our ancestors survived due to the ‘fight or flight’ response, which remains with us today. Anxiety is a form of response to the perceived threat but the threats have changed. Instead of the threat of wild animals and hunting to feed your family, there is job insecurity or having enough money to live.
 
The purpose of anxiety is to protect us from harm. The goals of your body and your unconscious mind is to keep you from harm. For example, if you were to hold your breath, regardless of your willpower, your body will override it. This is the same during an anxiety attack. The body will regain a state of equilibrium.
 
What can we (or our characters do) to cope or eliminate stress?
  1. Breathing Exercises – this relaxes the nervous system
  2. Sleep – 7-8hrs is the recommendation. During 80% of this time the body is in a state of rest and repair. The other 20% is spent in REM sleep. During REM the brain processes information and aids in finding solutions to problems. Often you will go sleep in a bad mood or stuck on a problem only to wake with a solution or a different outlook on what happened the previous day.
  3. Relaxation – this allows our subconscious to take the drivers seat. The word trance conjures many images but trance can be as simple as walking. Relaxation reduces stress and promotes positive thoughts, actions and interactions.
 
Another point to make is the subconscious reacts to our emotions. Imagine you’re panicking about a job interview. In your mind you play out nineteen possible bad scenarios. On the day, the interview goes well, but your subconscious perceives them all in the same way. To your subconscious, you went to twenty job interviews and only one went well.
 

Remember, positivity has power.

 
If you’re interested in the workings of the brain and emotion, check out Cox Hypnotherapy. Neil is a solution focused hypnotherapist with a client-centred approach, allowing him to help people help themselvesAnxiety and panic attacks – do you suffer?
I hope you can join in on #FeelLines and will be looking out for your entries every Thursday.
FeelLines Thursday 19th April Twitter Hashtag game. Theme: Anxiety. Show don't tell

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