Activations and Anxiety: What’s In Your Toolbox?

A woman writing something in her journal.

I experienced my first anxiety attack at 18 years old. It was my first semester in college, and I was so unprepared.

After class, I remember going into my dorm room, checking to see if my roommate was around, shutting the doors behind me, and crying out of control.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

I felt like I was shedding the version of me that I once knew.

I had left the city I grew up in behind. I had left my boyfriend behind. Although my parents both have a mental health background, all of their know-how went out the window when it came to their daughter. When I told them about my mental health concerns, their answer was to pray about it and be strong. They did believe in mental health as a science. They even had the language, the tools, and the knowledge to understand it, which is why I have always been so surprised at how they handled “mental health” when it came to me.

Activation is a reminder of past trauma. This reminder can cause a person to feel overwhelming sadness, anxiety, or panic. It may also cause someone to have flashbacks or PTSD.

I hated being a bother to people with my feelings and would push through any emotional pain or discomfort to appear ‘strong.’ I always felt like bothering people with my emotions or feelings made me ‘too much.’

I don’t remember what activated me back then, but knowing my deep need for safety and security AND my deep wounds around not being seen or heard, the incident that caused my first anxiety attack must have been a combination of both.

That year, I knew it would be necessary to start a lifelong journey of unlearning and learning patterns so that I could work on creating safety and security in myself when I feel activated.

In full transparency, I don’t always get it right. There are days when I’m wrestling with my pain, trying to lead it into submission. On other days, the things that activate those deep wounds gently roll off of me.

So, what can you do when you start to feel ‘activated?’

When this happens, I challenge you to BE STILL and breathe deeply into your belly. Shift your body and move through it if it’s available to you at that moment. Another one of my powerful go-to resources is journaling!

If you can, open up a journal and ask yourself:

  1. What memory might be triggering this ACTIVATION?
  2. What trauma or emotion do I need to examine?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  3. What resources do I need to move peacefully through this?
  4. Do I need to lean into the discomfort, or do I need to pull away to resource myself?

I’ve discovered that activations don’t ever disappear because the trauma and the wound don’t disappear. You can change the relationship you have to those activations, which will lead you down the road of your most profound healing. 

Brittany Giles

Brittany Giles

NeoraFit™ Ambassador Brittany Giles began her mission to share her fitness journey with the world three years ago. That journey drastically changed the way she viewed fitness. Fun workouts, her favorite fitness events, and nutrition tips are the foundation of FitXBrit, while she also focuses on the mind viewing “fitness” from a mental and spiritual aspect as well. Brittany believes “our bodies are easy to train and it just takes focus and commitment; however, our mindset can be a bit more challenging when we are looking at overall health.” Ultimately, Brittany’s goal is to share all of herself: the educator, fitness and nutrition enthusiast, the mom, and the woman on a journey to achieve peace.

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