It’s important to understand that when we’re stressed, our bodies react in particular ways, including changing how our blood flows and releasing hormones into our system. This is known as our bodies’ ‘fight or flight’ response and it prepares us to face a perceived threat or danger. It’s this response that accounts for a lot of the physical ‘symptoms’ we feel when we’re stressed or anxious (such as our heart beating faster, starting to sweat more, feeling butterflies in the stomach, or our muscles tensing up). These are all natural, bodily sensation/reactions caused by the ‘fight or flight’ response.
Of course, when we’re truly in a dangerous situation, the ‘fight or flight’ response is useful, as it helps us to deal with danger (for example, by preparing our bodies to face the threat or run away). The real problem occurs when there’s no real, physical threat, but we’re still experiencing these physical feelings.
Understanding what’s happening in our bodies is an important starting point in us learning how to manage and reduce stress and anxiety. Once we realise what’s happening, we can make sure that we interpret these feelings in the right way – as our body’s normal, natural response, rather than something we can’t control. When we understand what causes feelings of stress, anxiety or panic, we can regain control and use a range of proven relaxation techniques to calm our mind and body.