Sometimes it can feel like everything around us is moving in slow motion, like we’re going a mile a minute and the world is struggling to keep us. It can be disorienting and confusing, but it is quite a common symptom of anxiety.
As with a lot of symptoms of anxiety, the triggers lie within our caveman brain. This is the survival-driven part of our brain that our newer, rational cortex grew on top of. Its primary concern is keeping us alive, so when our brain perceives a threat, it releases these stress chemicals and activates a response called the fight, flight or freeze response. The stress hormone cortisol or the chemical adrenaline are released and this puts our body on high alert, and as a result, our body prepares to either fight, flight or freeze.
Why Can Anxiety Make Things Move In Slow Motion?
When our body is in fight, flight or freeze mode, a lot of our physical processes start to speed up. Our heart rate increases, pumping more blood and oxygen around our body, speeding up our breathing, our digestion and increasing our body temperature. Whilst this is happening, our body is experiencing something called hyperstimulation. This is where our body becomes hyper aware and sensitive to everything that’s going on around us and the processes that are happening in our body. Any slight change feels much bigger and more important. Any slight movement or sound feels more scary and threatening than perhaps it is.
As such, everything around us feels like it’s moving like a much slower pace – it can be really frustrating. So, it’s not necessarily that everything’s moving at a slower pace, it’s more that your sped up survival mode is more concerned with instant impact and immediate threats. This is great for actual threats to our life, but when we’re struggling with anxiety it can happen for much smaller reasons, defaulting to this high alert level, which for long periods of time can be exhausting.
How Can I Stop This Symptom?
In order to combat the parts of this symptom that stem from our fight, flight or freeze response, the main thing that we can do to combat it is to focus on our breathing and allow yourself to focus on the present moment. This should calm our central nervous system, and deactivate our fight, flight or freeze response allowing our system to become less stimulated.
However, with prolonged low moods, you need to consider managing or building strategies to tackle your anxiety. There are several options available including CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), mindfulness, medication and group therapy. If you’re unsure, please contact your GP for more information.