Anxiety is the body’s response to threat. That threat may be concrete, like being chased by a bear, or it may be abstract, like worrying about how well a work project will turn out. A threat can also be understood as a stressor.

People are fairly well adapted to concrete threats. If a bear is chasing you or there is a fire in your kitchen, you know what to do: escape. Once the threat is gone, the anxiety response eventually settles and we return to normal functioning. 

However, most of the things that trigger anxiety in our lives are composed of more abstract threats. Many of them we can do nothing concrete about. We cannot control traffic on the 401. We cannot control what we read about half way across the world. We often cannot control the behaviour of those we live and work closest with. And yet, our body demands that we do so and stimulates the experience of anxiety to motivate us to deal with the stress/threat.

Working with anxiety in therapy is about understanding your body’s response to threat and doing what you can to either eliminate those stressors or help regulate your reaction to them.