What is anxiety?

Fear is an emotion that’s very useful and healthy in the first place. You need it to live in a safe way. For example, If you’re standing on a tall building it’s very useful to feel the fear of falling down so that you won’t get too close to the edge. However, it can happen that the anxiety starts to influence your life in a negative way and that you start experiencing one or more of the following symptoms:

When the fear is in your life in this way, it can be difficult to relax, so you cannot recover properly and at some point will fatigue you. It can become a perpetuating cycle. Others try to do their best by telling you not to worry so much, but that doesn’t seem to help. You know you don’t have to be afraid, but still your body sends signals of danger. Trying to rationalize or suppress the fear simply doesn’t work.

Where does anxiety come from?

Anxiety can have different causes and often stems from a combination of life events, heredity components and survival strategies. For example, when you’ve experienced one or more dangerous situations in your life and you haven’t had the right support to process that, a part of you can get stuck in that moment. It’s like a part of you doesn’t know that you’re safe right now, but still feels like you’re stuck in the dangerous situation. This is usually stored in a part of our brain that unaware of time.


This can be very confusing, because you know it’s safe right now, but it doesn’t feel that way. This is because the part of your brain that can think rationally and can see that there’s no danger cannot reach the part of your brain that holds the anxiety. This is quite normal and a healthy function of our system. However, it can cause a lot of frustration and misunderstanding to ourselves, but also to others; especially when, in your opinion, there is no good explanation why the fear arose.

The treatment of anxiety

Anxiety needs understanding and support. It can be very difficult to give this to yourself or receive it from others, because rationally you understand there’s nothing to be afraid of. However, to really help the anxiety, it takes compassion, courage and support. To help you with this, the treatment consists of:


Explanation about how anxiety works in our brain and body.


Discovering where the anxiety stems from and why it was ever so necessary.


Learning to understand the fear and to deal with it differently.


Practical tips and exercises for daily fear reduction.

Not being afraid of the fear anymore

The anxiety has an important message for you and I’d like to help you discover what that is. If the fear can be heard, it won’t have to shout so loudly and it will subside on its own.

At Psychologist Groningen you can plan regular sessions or plan a package of three sessions with which you can work on a specific question. For example: “How can I develop a different relationship to my anxiety?”

If you already want to get to work on your own, take a look at the following resources.

Do you want to get started with your recovery?

Take a look at the following resources:

Self-compassion exercises

Self-compassion can be a great ally in helping anxiety, take a look at the different exercises you can try.


Can you shut off fear?

The University of The Netherlands has made a short film about how fear works and what could help, be sure to turn on the English subtitles (14:47 min).

Medication for anxiety

You might be thinking about starting medicine for the anxiety. Besides the talk with your general practitioner, you can look into general information about it.

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