Making it easy to understand:
(MA, BSc, BA, PgCert, PgDip CBT, EMDR 1,2,3, BABCP)
Part of the anxiety trap is it wants you to analysis every detail, trail through past incidents and unravel what you said last year to the lady in the flower shop over and over again. Doing this is called feeding your anxiety and this helps to maintain it.
Anxiety comes in many forms and can visit us in a whole range of situations. Some of my clients tell me that they feel anxious on waking, some feel anxious before certain activities, some after intrusive thoughts and some after certain triggers. Mostly they look at me in surprise when I tell them they are going to make friends with their anxiety and accept it. Avoiding anxiety is never a successful strategy so trying this new way of accepting your anxiety makes perfect sense.
Learn to accept anxiety by:
1. Just noticing when you experience those anxious thoughts & physical sensations.
2. Don’t panic or fight it, you can use self talk such as “it’s just a normal bodily reaction and I am not in danger”
3. Remember that anxiety is hardwired in all our brains from the days of the cavemen who needed anxiety as a red alert warning sign. If lions & tigers ate the cavemen they couldn’t feed their families.
4. Today we still have the same brain but we don’t have the risk of being eaten by wild animals but our brains get confused and can’t tell the difference. We get anxious about a job interview and our brains interpret this as a major risk.
5. Anxiety is still useful as a red alert as occasionally we do have to deal with major risks.
6. Accept your anxiety and don’t try to push it away. You can even say hello to it and welcome it. It will make it less scary
7. When you get catastrophic thoughts just let them come and let them go. Don’t feed them or pay attention to them. Use self talk “ its just a thought not a fact”.
8. If you feed your anxiety it will increase and become more intense.
9. Use slow breathing in through your nose with your mouth closed and out through either your nose or mouth. When you breathe in count to 4 and again count to 4 when you breathe out. This will slow your body down.
10. Fully accept your anxiety and use deep breathing to increase the carbon dioxide which can get depleted with over breathing (hyperventilating).
11. Find a seat to do your breathing. Use imagery of something soothing and relaxing.
12. Distract yourself either with a small household task/puzzle/guided meditation or whatever helps you. Make a list of helpful distractions.
13. Your anxiety will pass and if you practice this method your brain will soon establish it as a new healthy habit.
Good luck with accepting your anxiety and remember you can do it!
Making it easy to understand is a series of short, non- academic writing on Psychological Therapy subjects.
Jo is a Psychological Therapist who practices Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) and Clinical Supervision in the UK.