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OW SERIES: Day 4 – What happens when you’re anxious

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Today I’m helping you understand what happens when you’re anxious. The coronavirus causes fear of respiratory problems and stress. The brain then creates “selective hyper-vigilance”, which means that it “scans” us very or even too regularly in search of the slightest problem and focuses only on the things that are wrong: that strange sensation in our chest, the muscle tension in our back, our itchy eyes.

Then the second phenomenon, “pathologizing labelling”, comes in: we overreact to the slightest unusual sensation, telling ourselves that we are sick. That thought stresses us even more and we start hyperventilating, thus suggesting that a respiratory discomfort has set in—and that it could be the coronavirus.

And so the vicious cycle begins, and the anxiety becomes self-sustaining.

“Fear has big eyes” say the Russians. But eye size isn’t the measure of clear vision.

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By Adrien Chignard

Adrien Chignard, Occupational Psychologist, Sens & Coherence

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