HSP’s and The Anxiety Loop; Can We Stay Calm During Crisis?

by | May 21, 2020 | HSP Blog

Your Brain Says “RUN!”

As a result of over-stimulating thoughts, you’re suddenly breathing much more shallowly than you realize. Your brain realizes it is receiving less oxygen (from the shallow breathing). Once that message triggers the primitive brain, it says “all systems go!!!” Your sympathetic nervous system pulls more of your blood/body resources out to your limbs (away from your core) to ready you for the race (the flight).

The brain-body-loop is then made to perpetuate; “we’re getting less oxygen, something is wrong … we must prepare to flee … then we need more Cortisol …. then the threat is real … then holding our breath … then more Adrenalin … pumping through our veins … Oh God we’re really in trouble now … this must be really dangerous because my body has all this Adrenalin … and the brain then says RUN!!!

This is my brief description of the “Anxiety Loop.”

The Anxiety Loop

This mechanism has been in full play recently with our quarantines and nervous energy when we allow ourselves to over engage in the anxiety of the pandemic. The Anxiety Loop can also result in the sensation of wanting to fight for your life or just freeze (become mentally and/or physically paralyzed). In my years working with HSPs, nearly all tend towards the freeze response, whereby we simply can’t seem to breathe, move, make a decision, or move out of our primal brain reaction.

Nearly all of my Highly Sensitive clients discover when prompted that they breathe more shallowly at the slightest sign of stress. This causes their bodies to naturally activate their fight, flight, or freeze reaction all too often. This is another reason to stay mindful of our breath!

Overtaxing Our Entire System

The secondary effect of this systematic sympathetic overdrive response is that we stay so long and so often in the fury of the fear and anxiety, we tax and overtax our entire system. Then what do you think happens next? Yes, down goes the immune system because it is exhausted, deeply fatigued and cannot keep up with these energy demands. Has there ever been a time when we need our infection-fighting systems to be at their very best? So believe it or not, it is your choice whether to step into that negative news/social media vortex and cost your immune system unnecessary stress … or not. This choice can easily be extended into every day non-pandemic life as well. We can stay calm during a crisis!


In the next post, I will offer you the “Shallow Breath Challenge.” Stay tuned!

You might also like: