Columbus Academy hosted psychotherapist and author, Lynn Lyons, a specialist in anxiety disorders on Tuesday, December 12. Lyons’s The Anxiety Audit: 7 Sneaky Ways Anxiety Takes Hold and How to Escape Them, provides practical steps for individuals to break free from uncertainty and reclaim their emotional well-being.
Using an informal yet engaging style of presentation, Lyons’s lecture centered on one critical message: our brains are malleable. In particular, the prefrontal cortex can easily imagine scenarios that haven’t occurred and, thus, creates worry. Comparing anxiety to a cult leader, Lyons explained how it demands certainty and comfort. Anxiety, therefore, is as predictable as it is redundant and persistent.
Once an anxious-provoking event occurs, chemical signals shoot to the amygdala, a part of the brain which releases adrenaline, increases heart rate, dilates the pupils, and shuts down higher-level thinking and the digestive system. Ironically, these responses cyclically create more worry by intensifying physical symptoms.
To defeat anxiety, Lyon’s advised us to accept discomfort as a part of life and stop underestimating our resources, emphasizing that unease is paradoxical: “What you resist, persists.”
Lyon’s reminders when you feel anxious:
- What do you know or do that makes anxiety worse?
- What makes it better?
- What makes it better in the short-term but is harmful in the long run?
Expect the following:
- Expect to worry.
- Externalize it.
- Have a positive expectancy (Move into it).
Lyons portrayed exposure therapy in the case of people with a fear of podiums, explaining how recognizing these irrationalities and embracing them replaces our mind’s old pathways with new ones that are more comfortable with items that had triggered discomfort.
What seems to be timely-scheduled, Lyons’ s presentation proved to be a welcome event for our upper school audience who were looking at their midterm exams the following week.