What really causes anxiety?

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.

E coliThere 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.

6 thoughts on “What really causes anxiety?”

  1. Paddy Landau

    As a generic rule-of-thumb, you are certainly correct, for example about using breathing. That’s fundamental.

    But some anxieties are strictly physical. For example, I know someone with scarring on her brain from a childhood disease. The scarring creates anxiety simply because certain neurons have had to reroute themselves through the part of the brain that stimulates anxiety. Even normal and innocuous thoughts (e.g. “That sunset is beautiful”) can do this. (You can imagine how hard it is for that person to live a normal life.)

    As always, the first port of call is your doctor; but, whether or not physical causes have been found, body work and environmental clean-up are invaluable.

  2. Martina Dewsnap

    This is so true Judy. It is as simple as that and all what we call ‘illnesses’ are just cells talking to us i.e a fever, a cough, mucus in the nose or lungs, asthma, urticaria, allergies, sneezing, headaches, migraines, pains of all kinds are the so incredibly clever screams of our cells screaming to us to change something to our environment either the air is polluted, we are not breathing enough, we are eating to much junk food and not enough fruits, and grains and Vegs, we are not drinking enough clear water, we are not sleeping enough, we are surrounding ourselves with the wrong people, we are not moving or exercising enough, we need to address our lifestyle. Of course from the point of you of medical practitioners, it might seem annoying that if it is so simple, people might not need their cures, or they might have to postponed these cures which want to get rid of the scream with anti-histamine, corticoid s, anti-inflammatory, anti-biotics, anti-allergens, anti-cancerous medications and procedures but the truth is our approach is not solving or helping our cells solving the problems. It is just shutting down the cells. By the way Judy, I am currently living in a wooden bungallow sitting above the sea of Thailand and have been living on fruits, vegetables, grains and lots of water, fresh air, and long resting period, surrounded by absolutely marvellous people for now going three years, I have studied mindfulness with Chris Fenwick, author of A life more mindful, which is most impressive. http://www.alifemoremindful.com. He lives in Slough. i talked to him about your great work and I think you ought to meet to support his getting his coaching ahead. Thanks again for all your great posts which I read religiously.

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