Following on from my previous posts regarding anxiety, what it is; and also the effective use of mindfulness, I’ve culminated the two into some helpful hints and tips. These can be adapted for most situations.
Stress, anxiety, anger, etc. are all caused by chemical reactions which are triggered by thoughts. The thoughts encourage our body to react in a certain way which should help us out. This highly developed and efficient reaction ensures that faced with clear and present danger, such as imminent attack from a crocodile, snake, bear, Ninja warrior, etc. we are able to fight it…or run like hell! Commonly known as fight or flight!
Now, when we had to chase, catch, kill and drag our own food back to base, this was a really useful reaction. It even helped us when the Vikings invaded or a German rifle was pointed in our face. It continues to help those faced with life threatening situations every day, which is why we need to keep this reaction going.
So, now we’ve established that we’re all brilliant and our bodies are the very living example of perfection, we can start to think about exactly when we need the fight or flight reaction. And when we don’t.
Think about your situation…
Do we need to fight it?
Do we need to run like hell from it?
If you’ve answered “yes” to either of the above questions, keep reading the first part of this blog until you say “no”
So, we don’t need to exercise this amazing brain / body reaction in normal everyday life do we?
Let’s try something new. Here are some tips for helping you through your stress…
Try to keep a mood diary for one week so that you can begin to notice times when you are feeling stressed, there are also free apps you can use. Use smiley faces to track your mood at certain times of the day. Make a note of what was happening and why you felt the way you did. At the end of the week, review the diary.
Once you have begun to notice your anxiety and understand when it occurs, you need to make friends with it. Have a little chat. Your anxiety is your inner Ninja. It protects you and keeps you alive. This is brilliant. But your inner Ninja is a little over worked. He or she is starting to think that they have to be with you all the time. Please tell your inner Ninja that they don’t. They have to rest so that they can be ready when Viking attack strikes. Say to your Ninja…
“You are my Ninja and I’m really happy because my body is working perfectly but you need to rest so that I can concentrate on what I need to do and you can be ready for when you are needed. I’m going to do some breathing exercises which will help us both to calm down”
Practice some simple mindfulness techniques – mindfulness is the practice of focusing your mind on one thing in the present with no thought for future or past. The great thing about mindfulness is that recent studies have shown it to be as, if not more, effective than drugs and some other therapies in treating depression and anxiety. But that’s not all. Those really clever scientists have even shown that by practising mindfulness, us amazing humans can CHANGE the makeup of our brains!
Elephants Can Help!!
Sit comfortably on a chair with your feet on the floor, close your eyes. Concentrate on your breath and breathe in through your nose for a slow count of 3…one, elephant, two, elephant, three elephant
Hold your breath for a slow count of 3
Breath out for a slow count of 3
Do this 3 times
As you breathe in, visualise clean fresh energy entering your body, filling up your lungs with healthy air. As you breathe out, visualise the anxious, worried, dirty air leaving your body.
If your mind wonders whilst you are breathing, say hello to the thought and bring your awareness back to your breathing. Notice how the breath continues in and out, try and feel in your body where your breath goes and take notice.
Once you have done this, if you still have worrying thoughts in your head, imagine them as bubbles in front of you. Each bubble has a thought in it. Look at the bubble, imagine the thought as a word inside the bubble and then imagine it continuing its journey up into the air.
Another helpful mindfulness technique is to choose an object, a pen or phone anything nearby. Study the object with curiosity. Look at its shape, how does it feel to hold? How does the object feel against your skin?
You can practice these techniques every time you feel anxious or worried, it may take a little time but it will help.
There’s no need to let worry and anxiety get in the way of your life and what you need to achieve. Take charge today! Give your Ninja a rest and free your mind!