Anxiety is not beneficial to us. The way we each live our lives can be very different. But one thing that is similar is that we are all ruled by our emotions. Everyone becomes scared and anxious on a daily basis, it is normal and is part of our evolution. However, while being scared is helpful and beneficial to us, anxiety is not. In this blog, you will learn what anxiety is, the effect it has on the brain and practical exercises to break your cycle of anxiety. You will learn how to get better at ‘calmness’, manage your anxiety at home and begin to focus on what you can control every single day.
Are fear and anxiety the same thing?
Many people believe that fear and anxiety are the same but there are subtle differences. Humans need fear for survival, it is a primitive emotion. It allows us to think and plan for survival, by simulating future scenarios based on past events. For example, ‘oh look a lion, or no last week a lion ate my mate, quick lets run away.’ On the other hand, anxiety ensures that humans are prepared for attack. Together, fear and anxiety work together and are essential to our survival. However, anxiety becomes unhelpful when there is uncertainty thrown in. When the brain has no past scenario to go back to it becomes stuck in an anxiety loop, searching over and over for a solution. Once the anxiety has gone wild, it creates panic and then panic disorder; where you begin to panic about panicking, and you become stuck in a feedforward cycle.
What happens to my brain when its anxious?
During an anxiety attack, the prefrontal cortex of the brain goes ‘offline’, while it tries to find a solution to the anxiety and panic. Once the anxious thoughts have started it is hard to stop them and our mind and body become disconnected. In order to deal with the anxiety, you need to find a way to reset your prefrontal cortex and allow it to come back online.
How can you break the anxiety habit?
In order to break the cycle, and allow our brain to reset we need to calm down. Now, if you have ever been told to ‘calm down’, you will know that it only increases your anxiety and frustration. As humans, we need to bring awareness back to ourselves and ground our bodies in direct experiences. The mind and body are connected. We need to unwind from our anxiety by coming out of our heads and going into our body, allowing the mind to reset.
Hypnotherapy and anxiety
Hypnotherapy provides an experience of deep level relaxation and so helps to reduce levels of panic and anxiety. On a basic level a therapy session gives you the ability to clearly imagine something that makes you feel anxious and then to attain a deeply relaxed state. One gentleman I helped recently, has been suffering with panic attacks when travelling on buses.He was tearful and in a complete state of panic and unable to travel on a bus.
After the 1st session, he had a comfortable journey home on the bus and after further sessions he didn’t think twice about travelling on the bus. In fact, he now finds bus rides rather boring! Others had noticed how much calmer he was during his daily commute. He had noticed it was true. He was no longer bothered by his journey into work. To find out more about how hypnotherapy can help manage your anxiety visit www.hypnosisinyorkshire.com
Practical exercises that you can do at home, right now to deal with anxiety.
By practicing calmness for just ten minutes a day, you can reduce your anxiety symptoms by up 57% (JMIR mHealth uHealth) . Short, daily training of in the moment exercises ,will naturally manage your anxious thoughts.
So my top 3 anxiety reducing techniques are:
When we feel panicky and anxious our pulse rate increases, and the amount of oxygen getting to our brain diminishes. Controlling your breathing, is a great way of tricking your brain ,into thinking that everything is alright, and signals to your mind, that it can go to a place of calm. The five finger breathing technique, engages all your senses, it is tactile, visual and mindful. By practicing the five finger technique daily, you will be able to turn down the background noise of your thoughts and simply be in the moment, allowing you to THINK BETTER and FEEL BETTER. See demonstration here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAt58vJLBsQ
Touch is the first sense we develop in the womb, and it helps feed emotional connections. It is a primal, intuitive behaviour. Additionally, touch stimulates the release of serotonin which is the feel good chemical. Touch and affection also; lower heart rate and blood pressure, as well as reducing cortisol levels. But, most importantly touch allows us to connect with our bodies a little bit more and reduces the symptoms of anxiety. Pleasant touch is achieved through; a hug, a massage, or even through stroking a pet. It is just as beneficial to be the tough giver as well as the receiver. If you have no one around you, give yourself a hug, stroke your arms or rub moisturiser on your body. Short moments of touch, many times throughout the day will manage your anxiety.
So this one really combines the principle of breathing and touch to manage your anxiety. Through taking your own pulse, you are able to ground yourself in direct experience, and physically feel your own body. It simply allows you to be in the moment with yourself and wonder what your body is doing. This is really useful for moments when you are feeling scared and helpless. It can be done anywhere and be implemented immediately to FEEL BETTER.
So in order to manage anxiety, you need to break the cycle of anxiety. You can get better at calmness, through daily practice. It does not require big long hour mediation sessions. Small, quick grounding experiences such as stroking the dog, five finger breathing or taking your own pulse will bring awareness to your body and allow your brain to reset. Once you have connected your body and mind, ask yourself ‘what do I feel like now?’, as it is important to recognise how the small practice has changed you and helped manage the anxiety.
Thankyou for reading today’s blog, our mission is to develop, reshape, and transform the way we think. A healthy mind creates a healthy body. Because when we THINK BETTER we FEEL BETTER.