The Anxiety Signal: What to Do About It & How

Anxiety is a signal, an indicator meant to alert you to circumstances that require your attention. When your anxiety signaling system works properly, anxiety can be a very useful signal. Think of the whistle on a tea kettle. When the whistle sounds, you know that your water is boiling and it’s time to shut your kettle off. The whistling sound leads you to take effective action.

But if your anxiety signaling system malfunctions, then it’s like having a home alarm system that goes off in error. The loud siren-like sounds from a home alarm are meant to alert you to an intruder break-in, so you can take action to protect yourself. But if the alarm goes off in error, when there’s no intruder—you’ll feel danger and worried concern—when there’s no need.

When our alarm signaling system doesn’t work properly, anxiety begins to have a life of its own. Then our mind will find it almost impossible to be calm, clear and self-assured. Instead it will be on the lookout for problems everywhere. And when we’re already anxious to begin with, our mind usually finds what it needs to justify and confirm its anxious concern.


This creates all kinds of problems. We live in very stressful times and stress is the main driver of anxiety. We experience unrelenting stress and stress hormones disrupt our anxiety signaling system, causing it to chronically malfunction. Unfortunately most “treatments” for anxiety focus on the symptoms and not the cause

Stress is a precursor to anxious concern, and for good reason. We’re hard-wired for what is called the “Stress Response”, also known as the Fight or Flight response.

Many Americans are running into problems with anxiety today.  Anxiety problems can include panic attacks and fear of open public places, known as agoraphobia. More than 45 million Americans suffer from anxiety related problems, but most know very little about what anxiety really is, or what drives it, or what to do to get relief.

This Stress Response has one primary function: to prepare you to flee or fight in the face of life threatening danger. This hard wired response was designed for simpler times. It is obsolete today; it’s not matched well for the circumstances we live in.


Evolutionary scientists refer to this as the “great mismatch” problem. In the last few decades we’ve gone through about 400 years of rapid social and technological change.  It’s been hard for humans to adapt to such dramatic change. The stress/anxiety problem is rooted in the fact that we’re not properly hard-wired for this fast paced, complicated and too often meaningless way of life. We’re wired for a time that’s long gone.

Many of us feel troubled today. We feel troubled having to cope with a life that can be chaotic and confusing, a life lacking in clear cues and clues about how to live with depth and meaning. And many of us are under unremitting financial strain. Who among us doesn’t long for a more loving and meaningful connection to people and to work?

The Stress or Fight or Flight response was designed for short term use only. But today it triggers in error, too often, and it stays on too long. As a result stress hormones seep into our blood and tissues and linger there. They don’t flush out like they are supposed to.


This sets up conditions for a number of problems, including anxiety, panic attacks and agoraphobia. Stress triggers anxiety and worry, which triggers more stress, which triggers more worry and more stress hormones. Millions of people are caught in this kind of a vicious cycle today. Anxiety, panic, phobias, depression, and many illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes—are an outcome of the fact that we are chronically stressed out.

Consider that what happens during an anxiety or a panic attack is exactly what would happen if you had to defend yourself against a life threatening situation. Only in a panic attack, you have no life threatening storyline that accounts for what’s going on, which is why panic attack symptoms are so terrifying.

The ultimate relief for anxiety problems involves fixing your signaling system so that it stops malfunctioning. If you can learn how to enter what I call the Calm State, a state of calm, clear and self-assured awareness, then you can recalibrate your system. 

Then you’ll lower your stress hormone levels and flush stress hormones out of your blood and tissues—along with a good deal of stress and anxiety.. Download the Calm State Audio in the Resources Section. It's Free. Listen daily, it will flush stress hormones out of your blood and tissues. The Calm State is the gateway into deeper mind and awareness,

© Dr. Jim Manganiello