I’ve been doing a lot of research recently into what really causes anxiety, while I’ve been putting together my new e-course, The Stress-Less Sprint.
I was already convinced – from my own experience and from working with coaching clients – that the whole chronic stress/anxiety thing that so many people experience isn’t just down to stressful life events.
There was something very physical going on: when people changed their lifestyle in specific ways, particularly by adjusting their breathing, their level of stress reduced – whatever was going on in the outside world.
Now I think I understand how it works, at a cellular level.
Simple, single-celled organisms such as E. Coli can “think”, at least after a fashion. They can compare their current environment with where they were two seconds ago, and notice whether it’s more or less hospitable. If it’s less hospitable, they get moving!
Your body is a colony of billions of single-celled organisms, working together. At any given moment, each of those cells is noticing whether the environment is getting more or less hospitable. Are appropriate nutrients freely available? Is there enough oxygen?
With modern lifestyles, our cells’ environment is continually becoming less hospitable. We eat more and more junk, and exercise less and less.
But when it’s clear that the environment is becoming less hospitable, human cells can’t escape. They’re stuck in the physical structure. All they can do is “scream”, using whatever chemical messengers they have at their disposal.
I think chronic anxiety is the sound of billions of cells screaming.
When you do something as simple as breathing correctly, you start to supply your cells with enough oxygen. At last, the environment is becoming more hospitable. The screaming stops. And the anxiety fades away.