This is a guest post written by Tiina Nellis, Advanced Rapid Transformational Therapist, Clinical Hypnotherapist, and Personal & Business Performance Coach. She is based in England and serves domestic and international clients online. If you’d like more information on her work, please visit her website (www.tiinanellis.com), and follow her on Instagram @tiina_nellis
Where do I start?
First and foremost, educate yourself about what anxiety is. Know what you are dealing with and how to get help. There is a lot of information on the internet about different types of anxiety, some more difficult to handle than others. Based on my experience as a therapist, I would define anxiety as a collection of different negative feelings ruled by a fear that was created by an incident, situation or a memory gone wrong that left the nervous system alert. Having an ongoing “alert” turned on in our nervous system results in our mind working relentlessly on a plan of action to make sure the old situation or incident can never return. This leaves us chronically alert, worrying, and exhausted. The less we know about the feelings we are experiencing and why they are happening, the bigger is the fear and the feelings it produces. When we are on alert, our body starts to produce more stress hormones to keep us awake and able to run if needed. Having more stress hormones in our system leads to even more exhaustion and irritability, depriving our body from necessary rest and relaxation. A chronic state of anxiety will slowly build its way to chronic illnesses and health concerns.
The most important step for the nervous system to get back to a regulated state, is a feeling of SAFETY. Anxiety is triggered when life feels like it is getting outside of the “safety zone”. When we are overtaken by fear, our ability to think clearly is clouded. We see things through the filter of fear only, and our fearful thoughts create anxious feelings. Our mind has taken control over our body and it no longer questions the situation, but acts automatically.
How can I create “SAFETY”?
- Shhh! Please don’t keep it a secret. There is nothing you need to hide. It doesn’t mean that something is wrong with YOU. Anxiety is a symptom of a well-being issue you are dealing with. Ask for help if needed. You are not alone in this. There are many people who deal with the same problem every day. The more you hide it, the more pressure it puts on you – just like any secret.
- When talking about it, check your language. Avoid making the issue sound bigger than it may actually be; emphasize possibilities for managing, even overcoming. Your mind is always listening and trying to deliver what you “order”. Change “anxious” to a “little worried” or “slightly nervous” or simply “excited”.
- Never own your anxiety. Call it THE anxiety and not MY anxiety.
- Know that your body IS NOT broken. A fast heart beat and breathing is our nervous system’s NORMAL response to danger called ‘fight and flight’ that makes sure your body has all it needs to run or fight. Once you know that you are having a normal response to a perceived fear, you can question why your mind gave that false alert?
- Swap the fear for curiosity. Anxiety is not your enemy. Its job is to keep you “safe”, and anything out of the safe zone is a potential trigger. Swap being threatened by it, and start being curious. Imagine that it is your mind’s way of talking to you and that anxiety has a message for you. Start noticing when and how it gets triggered. Ask it what it wants to tell you.
- Incorporate some new healthy daily habits into your life to safely stretch your “safety zone”. Make sure you start taking your power back by doing things that are different but safe. Examples would be: start brushing your teeth with your left hand, or turn the shower to cold for a few seconds and then back to warm and repeat a few times. Stretch yourself daily beyond your “safety zone” with tiny steps each time, assuring and confirming to yourself that you are safe as you make the changes.
- Teach your mind and body that uncomfortable feelings are ok. You don’t have to run from them; they are here to “get your attention”. Start to notice what you were doing and thinking just before they arrived. Did someone acted in an unusual way, and did that make you feel uncomfortable? Are you under more stress than usual? Is your self-confidence low? What about your trust in your ability to handle things?
- Continue to educate yourself about how your mind and body work and about what anxiety is. It is not a mystery illness that you are taken by with no cure. You can’t control your nervous system, but you can control your thoughts. The more you do it, the easier it is to get your mind back under your control.
- Give yourself all the time and love you need to move away from it. Self-criticism, excessively high expectations, disappointment, and blame don’t help. Be kind to yourself.
What do I do when I start to feel a little anxious?
- Check the facts and the reality of your surroundings and situation. Is reality truly as you see it? Are you in immediate danger, or could it be IMAGINED? What do you “see” versus what is actually happening? Look around, bring your attention out from your head to your body, feel the ground under your feet supporting you, the chair you are sitting on, the wall behind your back. Assure yourself that you are, indeed, supported and safe.
- Drink room temperature water slowly, sip by sip. This will help cortisol – the stress hormone – dissolve more quickly back into your body.
- Empty your lungs. Breath slowly out, take a shorter breath in, and breath out again until no air is left in your lungs. Notice your breathing slowing down and then your heart beat slowing down.
- Focus on “doing” something that takes your mind away from creating anxiety. Start throwing a ball or a pen in the air with your left hand without letting it to drop on the floor. If it is too easy, do it with eyes closed.
- Think of something you love doing or shake your body softly to change the feeling.
- Repeat powerful empowering words like I CAN and I WILL to keep your mind focused without slipping into the powerless I CAN’T. One of the most common root causes of anxiety is the inability to cope with the fear of unknowing, helplessness and hopelessness.
May these insights and suggestions help you as you seek optimal wellness in mind, body, and spirit.
Wellness Made Simple offers education and coaching in visualization techniques, emotional aromatherapy applications, and other natural solutions to support you in feeling calm, confident, and capable. If you need additional professional help for feelings of anxiousness, you may want to consider Rapid Transformational Therapy.
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