In the nascent days of our species, life was less tranquil. Our daily lives were occupied by threats of hunger, predators, natural disasters, and other predators. So our genes adapted to the environment, developing a special mode for threatening situations. Designed to keep us alert and attentive, we likely wouldn’t be here today if not for this adaptation.
But thousands of years later, society’s growth outpaces our own. The remnants of our ancient days react to a looming midterm with the same circuitry as an imminent attack. This is know as anxiety. And everyone has experienced anxiety in some form, at some time.
Our brains, clever as they may be, cannot effectively distinguish between life-threatening situations and dates with someone special. Research shows that anxiety can have detrimental effects on our health. For example, chronic stress can cause obesity, cardiovascular disease, and gastrointestinal problems. Our bodies aren’t well adapted to constantly operate in such a state; anxiety beyond moderation is pathological.
What preventative measures can we take to avoid distress? How can we escape the feedback loops that magnifying this stress? Is there any benefit to anxiety?