A Journey Within and Without Anxiety or Fear

Many people on this planet live under the rule of fear, in a state of physical, emotional, and mental tyranny. Fear keeps them in a condition of emotional misery, suppressing their health and their higher consciousness. Trapped in survival mode, people with anxiety are consumed with feelings of dread, driven by compulsive action to undertake and ward off a perceived, expected, or imagined danger. While anxiety is a universal human emotion known to us all, some people’s destiny is more directly involved with learning to particularly overcome this type of suffering – with or without entering anxiety treatment centers and programs.

Anxiety can range from a vague and constant sense of foreboding, uneasiness, worry, a pervasive background feeling that it is not safe to relax, to a more acute and sudden full-blown state of panic. During a panic, the body becomes highly dysregulated, which is to say it shuts down under the onslaught of fear chemicals flooding the body and mind. This flood of chemicals is designed by nature to be called upon, if necessary, to face life-threatening danger. Still, for the person with anxiety, fight-flight physiological reactions are being mobilized in anticipation of danger that only might occur.

People who are frequently and severely triggered into fear deserve the utmost compassion, as they tolerate a truly hellish state. Fear’s hard, toxic effect on the body feels awful and has many health repercussions.  The thoughts generated by fear are appropriate for a war zone: “I have to do something right now or else, I fight, someone, off, I have to escape but I can’t, Someone, please get me out of here, I’m helpless, I’m about to die, I have to do something not to die, but I can’t, I’m trapped, I’m powerless” and so on.

For many women coping with anxiety, the grueling anxiety attack itself eventually becomes the most feared experience, and the reason for seeking anxiety treatment centers, programs, and other support. It is no wonder they may begin to live in terror of encountering their own fear and shut their worlds down to reduce the risk of getting triggered. When we are oppressed by anxiety, we become obsessed with control. To stay in a posture of guardedness against a danger we fear, which, although dreaded and sensed, cannot be predicted or managed, we maintain a state of vigilance:

    • We stay battened down, crouched, hyperalert and uneasy, ready to spring into action should the dreaded reality come to pass.
    • We opt out of situations and events that are too open-ended or unknown, believing we must have prediction and control to manage and reduce the experiences of anxiety that have been oppressing us.
    • We may spend our energies scanning the environment and anticipating all potential outcomes of all events.
    • We may be shut out of the present moment – where all joy exists – because we feel compelled to look past what is happening here and now, into a projected potential future.

Unable to stop and sense into the now, we are locked out of pleasure and trapped in a loop of planning for what could happen, what might go wrong. A friend once described this as “pre-living”– a practice of unhealthy dwelling in the future. Though we might scoff at fortune tellers, psychics, and magic eight balls, we unquestioningly believe our own equally unscientific predictions. The anxiety disorders named by medical science have different flavors, according to which danger we may be especially preoccupied with and ways we may have behaved to ward off those dangers.

Those of us relating to social phobia description may fear humiliation and thus seek shelter in isolation. Those relating to the flavor of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may fear contamination and ward it off with rituals and repetition. People with separation anxiety feel an intense fear when losing contact with a person or place that signifies safety. In contrast, people with specific phobias may be particularly centered on one threat, such as snakes. There are many different ways to experience anxiety. The broadest category, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), refers to a pattern of chronic, general fear attached to a wide variety of triggers or even seem to exist in us without an anchor.

What exactly we fear and obsess over may feel personal. Still, the physiology of fear is the same for all these disorders: rapid heart rate, sweating, shallow breathing, stress, and hypervigilance are signs that the body is in fight-flight mode. Severe anxiety is such an uncomfortable and harrowing experience that many sufferers seek relief in the form of drugs, alcohol, prescription medications, and other disordered behavior patterns like relationship addiction, codependency, and unhealthy eating. But as with all illnesses of the soul, short-term suppression of the surface symptom alone does not get at the underlying reason that these kinds of signals are coming up in the body all the time, in the first place.

For a person who is afraid of her own state of fear, and therefore of the many things that could cause her to go into that state of fear, she first needs to learn how to get out of that fear state and back into feeling good. As she begins to free herself out of fear, she will fear her fearlessness and gradually learn to regulate herself in situations where her fearful reaction is not useful. As a result, she will not need to take actions meant to keep her out of fear compulsively – she knows that should fear to arise, she can get herself out of it. Her world can then open up, and she can collect safety experiences and notice the times when it all worked out fine.

Integrative, Holistic Anxiety Treatment Centers for Women

At Villa Kali Ma’s holistic anxiety treatment centers for women, we teach women who struggle with anxiety how they can ease their own states of fear and learn to have sovereignty over their own emotional worlds again. Therapies to help the body to re-set to the physiological state of relaxed calm, including (but not limited to):

    • Daily gentle yoga
    • Mindfulness and meditation practice as well as breathwork
    • Craniosacral therapy (CST)
    • Massage therapy
    • Reiki with aromatherapy

Each time a woman creates relaxation and safety experiences in her body, she grows stronger in her ability to counteract fear. Thus, the emotional healing of previous life events that wired her to fear life in the first place is addressed through:

At Villa Kali Ma’s holistic anxiety treatment centers for women, we create a safe and intimate container for women to discover the healing joy of finding a safe community through the connection in recovery. Over time, the cultivation of a reliable spiritual connection that provides supple and abundant support for navigating her human experiences gradually replaces the state of fear. With time and practice, women who have suffered under the rule of fear can come to live peaceably and happily in a more loving, safe, and relaxed state of being.


What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, is a frequently-diagnosed mental health condition affecting many women today. Anxiety is one of the most widespread contemporary psychological troubles, and describes a chronic state of vague feelings of unease, mental preoccupation with safety and security, as well as habitual tension and pressure. 

People with anxiety are prone to intense worries, often about events and circumstances over which they have limited control. GAD-diagnosed people suffer with negative cognitive filters, (also called schemas), or ways of looking at the world that emphasize what might go wrong. They may be inclined to expect negative outcomes if they are not investing a lot of psychological energy into anticipation, prediction, and control of life’s many uncertainties. 

All in all, people with GAD spend more time than they want to worrying about the future, planning for feared or unexpected scenarios, and attempting to control situations. Subconsciously, people with GAD may overestimate their own importance in helping the world run smoothly, and may avoid sharing power and control with others because of their low trust in the world and other people. However this is not because they do not care about the experiences of others, but because they have an exaggerated sense of danger and their own role in keeping danger at bay.  

Anxiety has many negative health impacts for the physical body and is mentally and emotionally uncomfortable for the experiencer, as well. While not as topic-specific as as a phobias nor as disruptive as panic, anxiety is a form of fear. 

Low grade, constant fear plagues the anxious person, and they feel unsafe, under threat, and unable to relax their vigilance. Due to the body being kept in a state of nervous system over-arousal, people with anxiety can seem edgy, intense, or high strung. People with anxiety may come across as overbearing, with a need to have things go their way, as they rely upon controlling behaviors as a way to create sensations of safety for themselves. 

For those who experience anxiety, the state is triggered involuntarily by situations that people without anxiety wouldn’t identify as being overly dangerous or worrisome, or which it is pointless to worry about. Nevertheless for the person experiencing anxiety, many situations are associated with a state of mild to moderate fear, giving rise to worries, catastrophizing (expecting worst case scenarios and overly fearing unlikely tragedies), attempting to control and predict the future to protect against unwanted events, and mental looping on specific topics.

People with GAD are generally aware that others consider their worries to be exaggerated or unfounded, yet they are not easily shaken off. People with GAD are frequently unable to relax and may even fear or avoid the relaxed state, which they associate with things going poorly for themselves or others. 

GAD produces sleep disorders such as insomnia, muscle tension, headaches, lightheadedness, trembling, sweating, and irritability, as the body is being kept in these states through constant thinking about dangerous or otherwise threatening situations. Due to the states of chronic tension, people with anxiety often develop extreme fatigue, nausea, intestinal disturbances, and trouble concentrating. 

People with GAD are often responsible and conscientious people, who do well in society due to their attention to detail and their awareness of what may be necessary to keep things on track. On the flip side, feelings of intense anxiety can interfere with the ability to carry out daily tasks, speak in front of others, complete things on time, let go of perfectionism and control, or care for themselves sufficiently. GAD are therefore at risk of burnout when anxiety goes untreated for a long period of time. 

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder are unpleasant subjective states of unappeasable apprehension, dread, or worrying, accompanied by lower-grade, chronic physical fight-flight nervous-system arousal. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a stronger, more problematic version of normal anxiety, a condition experienced by most people. We all know what it is like to worry too much during certain stages of our lives, when facing challenges, or going through a particularly hard time. 

Many people may be prone towards anxiety as a general character style, but are able to cope and find ways to soothe their worries, such that their lives are not overly disrupted. To receive a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, one would generally be suffering much more acutely and experiencing problems in one’s ability to perform normal tasks of life due to the excessive worrying.  

GAD is described by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a minimum of six months of chronic, unfounded or disproportionate worry, that is much more uncomfortable and problematic than that experienced by the average person. 

Symptoms experienced by those with this disorder may include the following: 

  • Excessive worries that one cannot stop, reduce or control
  • Feelings of dread, apprehension, and fear
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Easily startled or scared
  • Trouble concentrating, mind going blank
  • Sleep problems, struggles falling or staying asleep
  • Muscle aches and chronic body tension, migraines, ulcers, stress-related health problems
  • Regular headaches
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Trembling, shaking, or twitching
  • Sweating, fluctuations in heat and cold
  • Elevated heart rate, chest pains
  • Upset stomach and intestinal disturbances, IBS
  • Shallow breathing, feeling out of breath
  • Excessive fear of failure, embarrassment, underperformance at work or school, perfectionism
  • Rigid punctuality
  • Causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorders come from a combination of factors, rather than from a single cause. Factors include but are not limited to: personal history, temperament, family history, gender (women are more likely to experience anxiety than men), toxin exposure, and environmental considerations.  

Because anxiety is about fear, those who come from environments in which they had to fear for their safety for whatever reason very often experience anxiety later on in life, even in safe circumstances. 

Trauma is highly correlated with anxiety, and brain imaging studies show that anxiety is connected to the ways that fear responses belonging to past events get trapped in the body. People with anxiety may be feeling fears that were appropriate to an event of the past, but which do not match current scenarios. 

Coming from a family in which one or more family members struggles with anxiety or other mental illness is a correlating factor for developing anxiety yourself. Some researchers posit genetic factors at play, suggesting hereditary dispositions towards or away from anxiety. In addition, troublesome family dynamics and trans-generational patterns of dysfunction and abuse tend to appear alongside anxiety disorders.  

Anxiety may be caused by diet and contemporary lifestyles which emphasize screen time and long, stressful, sedentary work days. People with regular exercise regimens, who eat well and spend time outdoors and those who develop spiritual practices for mindfulness and meaning tend to experience less anxiety, as the body is reset to wellness through healthy activities. 

Drugs and alcohol are highly associated with anxiety, and those who have addiction patterning will likely encounter their own anxiety on the path to recovery once numbing substances have been removed. This is because drug and alcohol abuse is often an attempt to self-medicate anxiety, among other kinds of emotional troubles. 

Certain prescriptions, such as inhalers for people with asthma,  and over the counter drugs like decongestants are also linked with anxiety, as are tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine (even without the presence of addiction).

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treatment

Generalized Anxiety Disorder treatment centers around working therapeutically with thoughts and the corresponding emotions and bodily responses to those thoughts. The aim will be to raise awareness of the ways that body, mind, and emotion interact in negative ways to keep a person locked in anxiety patterns. 

Therapies that work with thoughts and will, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy empower people with a greater ability to observe anxiety-generating patterns at play. Hypnotherapy is also helpful for gradually breaking the thought-programming and altering core belief sets so as to be less conducive to anxiety. 

Psychodynamic therapies centered around increasing self-connection, emotional healing and self-understanding are helpful for the sufferer of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. When a person is able to relate more kindly and soothingly to the presence of anxiety, they will have a better experience of the patterning overall. 

The GAD-afflicted person can be supported to develop a more connected and love-based way of relating to one’s own needs, fears, and struggles. Parts Work, also called Internal Family Systems, is a powerful way to relate to the “anxious Part” within, who believes that safety requires staying in a state of hypervigilance. 

Trauma work modalities such as EMDR and Somatic Experiencing are very effective with anxiety, as these work with the body to assist a reset to the nervous system and body-centered experience of life. Assisted to reorient towards a safe now moment through body awareness, the original traumas to the nervous system that imprinted a message of eternal insecurity can be changed and healed. 

Traditional anxiety treatments may incorporate anti-anxiety medications, however due to their high potential for addiction and other forms of negative impacts to physiology, Villa Kali Ma generally favors and supports using holistic and alternative paths to the same goal of regulating brain and body balance. For that reason, mindfulness, yoga, spiritual practices, nutrition and lifestyle changes are considered a vital component of treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. 

Tips for managing symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

There are many good resources and tips for managing symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. 

To support the body, it is recommended to engage in regular, vigorous physical exercise. Exercise helps the body release the chemicals produced by fear-inducing thoughts, such as adrenaline and excess cortisol. It is important to give the body a channel to release these chemicals through physical exertion because when trapped in the body they become toxic, and create anxiety. 

To support the mind, it is recommended to engage in practices designed to nurture observer mode, to get distance from one’s thoughts. There are many good ways to question one’s own thoughts, and to look for interpretations and filters. 

People using thought tools to manage anxiety will learn to identify which thoughts are generating fear, evaluate whether or not these thoughts are really true, and make a decision whether or not to keep believing those thoughts. This gradually empowers a person to be less at the mercy of their programming, more able to make independent decisions that are not pre-scripted by past experiences, traumas, and belief sets. Through these practices one also learns to choose different thoughts and to therefore create different emotional and physical states in the body.  

To support the more emotional aspects of anxiety, people can use tools that come from narrative therapy, art therapy, or psychodynamic talk therapies to help create safety and connection to their inner child. Tools like writing letters or journaling with the inner child, drawing pictures that express safety, and singing songs can be self-soothing therapeutic practices to explore. 

Good habits when it comes to sleep, work-life balance, involvement in community, nature, pets, and allowing others to help us are good for healing patterns of anxiety. 

Managing triggers that cause episodes of panic or severe anxiety

It can be important when healing from anxiety to learn how to manage triggers that cause episodes of acute anxiety. 

There are tools for tracking triggers and scaling the extent of the reaction, which over time help create a picture of one’s anxiety and its patterns. 

One tool is to record an evaluation of each day, answering the question, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad was my anxiety today?” It can be helpful for visualizing trends to color code using a red, yellow, green system, where red indicates days where anxiety was especially bad. 

On days when anxiety was bad, reflect on what may have triggered the intensity of anxiety, and make any notes about context. Such as: High anxiety, level 9 today, may have been triggered by watching the news before bed last night. 

On days when anxiety was low, again reflect on why, recording and tracking any resources you may have been using. Low anxiety, level 2 today, might be because I worked out three times last week, because I had a day off, because I saw my friend Willa, or maybe because I listened to Mozart instead of a podcast.… 

It’s ok that you won’t know for sure on any given day, what this will do is gather data over time, which will allow a clearer picture to emerge. It seems like I always get extra anxious on Sunday nights, thinking about the work week ahead. This empowers you to preventatively apply solutions and support, knowing when you’re headed into a challenging setting or scenario. 

Additionally, it is wise to develop a toolkit for things that work on the spot when experiencing high anxiety. Try different things out and again evaluate what works, taking note of anything that seems to work for you. Typical tools for stopping panic attacks include: 

  1. Engaging in a short bout of high-energy physical activity, such that your physiology can release the nervous system activation. For example, jumping jacks, squats, or going up some flights of stairs. 
  2. Using breathwork tools such as diaphragmatic breathing, breath of fire, and alternate nostril breathing.   

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