Is Anxiety An Emotion?

Anxiety is an emotion which is accompanied by feelings of fear, panic, nervousness and overwhelm, and it causes physical changes in our bodies such as increased heart-rate and shortness of breath. People with anxiety often have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns that can spiral out of control.

Anxiety is completely natural and is our bodies safety mechanism for keeping us safe. It is triggered by an unconscious response to a perceived threat.

For some, the anxious feeling goes away when they feel the perceived threat to be over, and they can begin to feel calmer again. However, others are left with an overwhelming feeling of anxiety and may find it hard to calm themselves down again. This is then known as a generalised anxiety disorder.

Many people struggling with anxiety may only be aware of their worried thoughts, but there is always an accompanying behaviour as well as a physiological reaction.

Anxiety Statistics in 2022

In any given week in England, 6 in 100 people will be diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder (Mind)

In the UK, over 8 million people are experiencing an anxiety disorder at any one time (Mental Health UK)

Less than 50% of people with generalised anxiety disorder access treatment (Mental Health Foundation)

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What Is An Emotion?

Emotions are a natural instinctive and unconscious state of mind resulting from our circumstances, environment or relationship with others. Emotions can also be felt as feelings, reactions or sensations, and are intertwined with our personality, temperament and disposition.

Our emotions can impact how we feel moment by moment. Emotions come and go constantly, and can be both positive and negative.

Emotions are triggered by neuropsychological changes that occur as a result of our thoughts and behaviours. It is generally believed that their original role was to encourage adaptive behaviour that would have contributed to our species survival.

How to Recognise Your Emotions?

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You can download the worksheet here

It is often easier to recognise our emotions and feelings before we are able to recognise our own thoughts.

To recognise which emotion you are feeling:

  • Set an alarm on your phone for 4 to 6 times a day, for example,  8am, 12pm, 4pm, 8pm.
  • Every time the alarm goes off, make a note of the emotion you are feeling.
  • Notice how you are feeling right now: anxious, apprehensive, overwhelmed, scared, hungry, tired, relaxed, happy, excited etc.
  • Track the time and the intensity of the emotion, with 1 being low and 10 being high
  • Observe the thought that created that emotion, and record what you said to yourself when you felt that way

When we are struggling with anxiety, the feeling can feel so familiar that we believe we feel anxious all the time. By setting an alarm and interrupting your thought and emotions, you may find that you experience more varied emotions than you realised.

How are Emotions Different to Thoughts?

Our thoughts can be conscious or unconscious, however if we recognise the thought, we have the ability to think of something else. For example, you may be thinking about  your unreasonable boss and this will have an impact on your feelings and emotions. However, you are able to choose to think of someone else, such as your fun best friend, and this too will have an impact on your feelings and emotions.

If you are feeling a negative emotion such as anxiety, it is not possible to change your emotion by telling yourself to feel happy. You will have to either change your behaviour, or change your thoughts.

So, if we want to feel less anxious, we need to be mindful of our thoughts and behaviours.

Are Thoughts Real?

Thoughts are simply an idea or opinion. Our thoughts may seem believable at the time, however it is important to remember they are just thoughts; and thoughts are not facts.

Could it be possible that your thought is distorted? When we are anxious, All or Nothing thinking (also known as Black and White thinking) may occur, so it is helpful to look for middle ground, or shades of grey too. We can also have a tendency to exaggerate or overgeneralise when we are feeling anxious, and jump to conclusions about something that hasn’t even happened yet.

Notice your thoughts and see what evidence you have to back them up.

If You Need Further Support with Your Mental Wellbeing and Anxiety

If you need further support with your Mental Health, a trained Anxiety Specialist/Coach can prescribe you with a personalised plan to understand the root cause of your anxiety, as well as help you develop coping strategies that are focused around your individual needs.

Taking care of your mental health is an essential part of your overall well-being. Left unresolved, anxiety can spiral out of control and have a significant impact on relationships, work, school and family life.

It is my belief that no one needs to struggle with anxiety, we just need the tools and techniques to overcome it.

So if you want to take the next steps to have a happier life where your fears no longer hold you back, click the link below and book a free no obligation consultancy call.

 Speak to an anxiety specialist

Other Resources

Discover a fast way to Reduce Anxiety Right Now 

Read about 5 Strategies to Calm Anxiety

Understand What Is Anxiety?

Know which Can Mindfulness Help with Anxiety?

Download my eBook on Workplace Stress and Anxiety

 Book a free discovery call