For us humans, anxiety develops from fears and concerns about the future. However, the future is unknown and none of us can accurately predict what will happen. What we do, though, is treat the future as a given, as if we do know what is going to occur and have a belief that we can control or change it. Just a quick scan across all the variables and possibilities of things that can or might happen during a day shows that this is just not true and that we have to deal with what comes our way – in one week in our house a pigeon flew down the chimney and the ceiling fell in! So there is no point in worrying about it, right?
So what does anxiety feel like?
Typically when people get anxious they start to hyperventilate, which is breathing faster and/or deeper than necessary, which brings on feelings of light headedness, dizziness, sweating, chills, nausea and trembling. Someone who is anxious can experience chest pain, feel like they have a constant lump in their throat, become very pale, develop skin rashes, indigestion, heartburn, diarrhoea or constipation.
So how do we go about combating anxiety?
One of the keys to combating anxiety is to relax. As we relax our bodies respond by slowing down the heart rate, slowing down the breathing rate, the muscles of the body become less tense, your blood distributes itself evenly throughout your body, your digestive tract returns to working normally and you find it easier to let go of your fearful thoughts.
So how do we relax?
When you start to feel anxious or frightened, the first thing you need to do is to bring your attention to your breathing.
Start to breathe slowly through your nose using your diaphragm and abdomen. Do not breathe through the mouth, and concentrate on exhaling slowly. Do not take excessively deep breaths, as this may exacerbate the symptoms.
Also, when you start to feel scared and anxious, the way you talk to yourself is very important. To help yourself to relax and become calm, again, it is very helpful to repeat some positive, coping statements to yourself. Some examples are:
‘I will relax and accept what is happening to me’
‘I can be anxious and still deal with the situation’
‘I will let my body relax into whatever is going on. This will pass’
‘This does not feel good, but I can handle it’.
‘I choose to be calm and confident in every situation’
If you feel that you are anxious or stressed a lot of the time, doing visualisations could be very helpful for you. These can be undertaken two or three times a day or, if your situation allows it, when you start to feel scared or anxious. Sit upright on a chair, with your feet on the ground and your hands resting loosely on your knees. Keep all legs, arms, fingers or toes uncrossed! Mentally relax your muscles and take some nice deep breaths before you begin.
Below you will find an example of a visualisation that you can use. You can find many more on pre-recorded CD’s, downloads, in books and on the internet. It is useful to record them somewhere that you play back and follow while you are visualising. You may also want to write your own and record them; using imagery and settings that appeal to you and that you know that you can relax in.
Breathing in Sunshine Guided Visualisation
Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Imagine, visualise or sense yourself sitting in a rolling green meadow, dotted with white daisies and golden buttercups.. The sky above is a beautiful blue and the sun is shining. As you are sitting there, sense that a strong ray of golden sunshine is penetrating through the top of your head. See or imagine the warm, golden light of the sun fill your head and then move slowly down your body, filling all of your body cavity with a wonderful, soothing, golden light. As the light of the sun fills your body, dirty black smoke is being gently forced out of the soles of your feet. This is all the anxiety and negativity being pushed out and cleansed away. When your body is totally full of the glorious sunshine, and all of the dirty smoke has been expelled, let the light leave your body knowing that all your anxiety and fears have also gone. Find yourself in a crystal clear waterfall or pool, and bathe in the pure, cleansing water to wash away any lingering remnants of anxiety or fear. Sense yourself sealing up the top of your head and the soles of your feet and surrounding yourself in a protective cocoon of glowing white light. When you are ready, open your eyes and notice how calm, relaxed and wonderful you feel.
If you would like to learn more about coping with anxiety and learning to relax, contact cmhypnotherapy in Bushey, Hertfordshire