If you suffer from chronic anxiety or panic attacks you know that when anxiety gets going it rarely stops and you feel helpless to stop it. Anxiety and what is often called Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a constant state of feeling on edge, hyper-vigilant or uneasy that is either more or less pronounced at any given time. The first thing to realize is that anxiety is an experience the body is having in response to a number of factors. It's the first thing to realize because many people feel it is a problem of the mind and in my experience in working with anxiety, if the body becomes relaxed and at ease the mind will follow. Anyone who experiences anxiety can begin to identify the sensations and discomforts in the body as the first signs of anxiety. Any one of these five steps will help you introduce a different/countering state of being at times when your anxiety is noticeable and more importantly stopping you from doing something you want to do (meet with friends, make a presentation) or being a way you want to be (Loving, connected, spontaneous).
Make crazy faces in the mirror - Starting the day with a laugh at yourself will wake up the social engagement muscles of your face so you can perceive with greater ease and be seen more clearly. Add funny sounds or gibberish to stimulate the throat, tongue, and voice.
Splash cold water on your face before heading into a triggering environment. This might not be so easy if you are a woman with make-up on so maybe you can hold a cool towel or ice pack at the side of your neck. Again stimulating the part of the nervous system that will allow you to access safety in any triggering situation. Cooling for a short period will stimulate the blood to flow into the muscles of the face and wake-up the social engagement nervous system that helps us find safety in connection with others.
Whistling or Humming - To whistle or hum you have to control your out breath and use the muscles of your mouth and tongue (for whistling) or contracting your pharynx (humming) in a coordinated way. This also stimulates the social engagement system of the nervous system that helps your body feel safe.
Slow Deep Breaths; are a well documented and very effective technique to help you shift your state of mind and body. If you can breathe slowly and deeply you consciously override the physiology of stress which is shallow short breaths. You are consciously saying to your nervous system, I'm ok - I don't have to fight or flee anyone or anything.
Grounding through the Feet: Standing. Bring all you weight to one foot notice the pressure. Breathe a couple of times. Then do the same to the other side. Then come back to center and notice if you are feeling more at ease in your body. Take a look around at your surroundings and determine that you are physically safe.
What are some ways you stop anxiety from stopping you.
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