We started our journey with interviewing many anxious people, we asked them to define was anxiety for them.
Anxiety manifests in a variety of ways for different people. However the root is the same - an attack to one’s core sense of being resulting in a loop of worrying and fear. Holding interviews, we understood that it is not easy to define anxiety. There were people that have been dealing openly with their anxiety for many years and were able to articulate it clearly:
“It’s the out of control thoughts that take over my mind” - Emily
“I went to ER because suddenly I started feeling extremely tense, and not part of this world anymore. I worried about this tension and was over thinking until I was sure that I’m was going to die.” - Jose
But for the most part, people’s definitions included examples of stress, depression and other mental states that are linked to anxiety, however they are not anxiety.
We went back to our neuroscience books and researched more about how the brain works.
Here it is a nutshell:
The brain’s role is to solve problems! That’s its contribution and responsibility to the living organism it is part of. In order to achieve that, it works in a four phase feedback loop:
Collecting information from the external world through our five senses: Seeing, Hearing, Smelling. Tasting and Touching
Processing the information
Coming up with an equation of cause and effect: Think of it like coding: “If THIS, then THAT…”
Finally it stores this information in an ever growing database of past solutions
Now let’s go back to anxiety. Anxiety happens internally in our head. It is not tangible and can not be perceived with our five senses. Trying to define it, the brain uses its known tools with not much luck. This raises our cortisol level and more anxiety is generated. Since it is a very ambitious and success oriented organ, it doesn’t give up trying to identify and understand these feelings, this results in a loop of worries and fears, hence more anxiety.
We realized that in order to make the brain work for us in dealing with anxiety, we need to use the tools it knows and is used to working with. We decided to create an intervention using the tools we have to perceive the outside world, in order to deal with our internal one - the 5 senses. Introducing a sensorial approach to dealing with anxiety.
Non Treated Anxious People
Many studies have indicated that urban dwellers have more than a 20 percent increased risk for anxiety disorders and an increased risk for mood disorders of almost twice that compared to rural citizens . In this context is where more of studies of the fours types of anxiety had been done: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Post traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Social Phobias and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). On the other hand, our personal experience happened in a similar context. Two thirds of the population of 40 million adults in the US suffering from symptoms related to anxiety do not receive any treatment. We narrowed of scope to find people who could fit into the profile of GAD.