Recently I worked with a person for anxiety. Anxiety is interesting to work with and I often find myself amazed at how an intelligent, strong minded, successful person, such as the one sat in front of me, could suffer from anxiety. How can it be?
If you are feeling stress or anxiety coming on take control early before it controls you. Here are six simple steps to keep you going through the day (or the week).
When the mind believes it is time to panic the Amygdala activates. It puts the body on high alert sending out adrenalin, increasing the heart rate to pump more blood through and all muscles are tense in preparation to move quickly – The good old primitive “fight or flight” syndrome.
So breathe! Stop what you are doing, go to a quiet space (physically or even just mentally) and focus on slowing your heart rate down; breathe deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth. Place your hand on your stomach and physically feel the stomach expand as you breathe in and reduce as you breathe out. This is using your diaphragm to breathe which is much more affective for your lungs.
Focus on your breath and in your mind’s eye literally, slow your breathing down.
2. Change the Picture
A wise person once said to me “if you don’t like the picture, change it!”
Take the time to implant positive stories. Clearly take yourself through a few events where you have felt calm, in control and done well. Take the time to visualise it in detail; see what you saw, hear what you heard and feel what you felt. Allow yourself to smile while doing it.
Take time to plan no more than 3 key things to get through during the rest of the day. If you have a tough week ahead plan each day, three key things to achieve and take the time to see yourself achieving them successfully. If you have people who interrupt, visualise yourself politely putting them off until you have more time. By taking the time to prepare your mind in successfully achieving your outcomes, your mind believes it to be more achievable.
4. Practise Choice
Choose your attitude. With practise you can easily choose how you want to respond to people and events. By choosing how you respond you take the control back. Angry is only one response. Why not be curious or confused or non-committal until you have thought things through. What else could it be? When dealing with staff that have made a less than adequate decision I will often ask something along the lines of “I’m curious. What process did you go through to make this decision?” It sounds much better than “What the hell were you thinking” and gives you time to think. They may well have had a perfectly good thought process. Choose your attitude.
5. Commit to the Process
It has taken some time to get to a place of regular anxiety. Unwittingly, you may well have been totally committed to the negative stories you believe, complete with pictures, sounds and feelings and you have been 100% successful. It is important now to show the same amount of dedication in getting yourself back on track to a much more resourceful, happy future and in this, you can again be 100% successful.
Celebrate even the small successes. In work, at home, celebrate. When you celebrate each little break through, the final task doesn’t feel so insurmountable. Break things down to small tasks and celebrate. Keep the fun in the day.