PREPARATION IS POWER!
Preparation and Knowledge are the antidote to anxiety. By learning more about anxiety, which you have already done and will do more of in the next section, you will be better equipped to prepare and pre-empt situations which may make you feel anxious.
How do we do this?
Think back to the very beginning of this course when I asked you to think about a time when you felt really anxious right before we began our mindfulness exercise with the pen or pencil.
I’m going to ask you to do that again…
The great thing about these tools and techniques is that if you often find yourself anxious, you can repeat them for different occurrences.
Let’s run through using an example…
When I am in a supermarket
My stomach feels fluttery and my breath is short
There are often large crowds and loud noises which make me nervous and anxious
I could look at shopping online. I could try and shop at a quieter time. I could go shopping with my friend or partner. I could think ahead and make sure I breathe beforehand and during the shop. I could treat myself at the end if I make it
REPORT – I checked online for the quieter times and made a list so that I could be faster once inside. I practised breathing before I went in the shop and a couple of times whilst I was inside. I checked in with myself 4 or 5 times. At the end of the shop, I bought myself a chocolate bar and congratulated myself.
Try this method and add your own details. The best thing about it is you can re-use it for different instances of anxiety!
Another great way to prepare is to use a very simple technique which is a form of mindfulness.
We are often told in this day and age that we are able to and should be multi-tasking. We are bombarded with images of “together” people balancing a demanding job with a busy home and social life and still finding time to look and feel great!
The reality is that most of us are tired out after a day at work or school. If we add to this the fact that we are feeling anxious a lot of the time, we have little energy left for anything else.
I’m giving you permission to get straight off that merry go around and slow down!
Here is a technique you can learn and practice so that it is available to you any time you want it. And all you need is …YOU!
Another gift we humans have is one that we all take for granted and that is our senses. Most of us have 5 senses…
Some of you may not have all 5 or one of your senses may be impaired. You don’t need me to tell you that, like Superheroes, our other senses adapt, and are then enhanced! So, anyone can do this.
I’m going to talk you through using all 5 senses but if you don’t have all 5 available, power up the ones you do have!
You can do this exercise anywhere but to help you, think about somewhere you may feel uncomfortable or anxious. To help, let’s return to the supermarket scenario.
So, we understand what our anxiety reaction is, we are actively managing its effects. We have prepared for our first visit to the supermarket, we’ve done some breathing to calm us down before we go in.
As we enter, we are going to switch off our busy brains and use the part of our brain which focuses – like a laser! Yes – there is NO technology that can match what we all have available!
Using your senses, ask yourself…
Ok, let’s break this down…
What do I See – keep this as basic as possible. The more basic, the better. I see some bananas, apples, a lady with a baby, trollies, a sign for the toilet
What can I hear – again, break it down from white noise which is anxiety inducing. I can hear people talking, beeping from the tills, a customer announcement, a man talking loudly on his phone
What can I smell – freshly baked bread, chicken cooking, meat on the counter, air freshener a lady just tried out
What can I feel – I feel a little bit cold as I’m in the fridge aisle, the trolley feels easy to push, the melons feel fresh, the pre-packed meat feels cold.
What can I taste – are you sucking a sweet? Do you experience taste as a smell? Take a moment to check in with your mouth and try and name what comes to you. Can you still taste the coffee you just drank?
By practising all the techniques we’ve learned so far, you will get better and better at managing your anxiety. Don’t forget though, we don’t want to lose this reaction, we just need a little more control of it. Also, it’s a work in progress so celebrate your successes and also, when things don’t work out, you will still be able to see how far you have come and, hopefully, those uncontrollable anxiety reactions are less often.
In our next section, we are going to look at possible triggers or reasons why you might be feeling anxious and how we can incorporate these into our power toolkit.