Treating Anxiety at home
Your body has built-in resources for calm. Powerful physiological and psychological release mechanisms that bring calm and relaxation. In this video, I teach you how to use your bodies natural calming abilities to stabilise anxiety. I have two go-to self-help tools that you can incorporate into your life to get you free from the symptoms of anxiety.
The parasympathetic nervous system is the name for the bodies self-calming mechanism. Understanding how it works and how to stimulate it on purpose is a great move for anxiety sufferers. Here are 4 ways to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system you can use anytime you feel anxious:
Air: we know that the out-breath stimulates the parasympathetic system in the body. The in breath also stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which increases alertness. For anxiety-reducing breathing make your out-breath longer. Slow your breathing down and fill your lungs up as full as they go. The old phrase take a deep breath and count to ten was not so far off track!
Water: swallowing is another stimulant. Produce saliva in your mouth and swallow. Repeat this action. You will find it slows and relaxes you
Earth: place your feet on the ground and notice the firmness of the floor. Become aware of your physical presence in the room or space you are in. if you are sat on a chair notice the sensation of the firm chair on your legs and bottom. Feel that you are present in the world and supported.
Fire: fire up your imagination! This is my favourite tool. Put your concentration on any engaging mental activity. Imagine all the numbers from 1 to 300, count sheep, have a cup of tea with your granny, climb a mountain or watch a sunset. Whatever you do with your imagination focus on the detail of it until everything else (including your anxiety) begins to dissipate.
These 4 techniques are explained more fully in my resource on dealing with anxiety. You can find it here.
The work of healing from our experiences is directly connected to the symptoms of anxiety in our lives. The techniques I teach you here are great self-help tools there is nothing to replace a trained professional therapist. Seeking out professional help is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Tool #1 Journalling
Journalling is not a new idea. We have been doing it for centuries and its cathartic effects have been well documented by scientists but in my work as a coach when combined with other techniques I see it how powerful results.
Journalling increases self-awareness.
You can use a note-book your laptop or phone. You can write on post-its or doodle pictures or even take annotated photos. The more you own the journaling process and make it meaningful to you the more benefit you will get from it.
Here are 5 journalling questions to use daily:
How am I feeling right now?
What thoughts have been running through my head today?
What am I worried or concerned about right now?
On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest how intense is my anxiety now?
What do I need today?
Conduct a journal review.
Once you have a number of entries in your journal (at least 5) you can look back over them and notice the journey. This gives you an idea of patterns or themes emerging. You can see how things change and what things are repeated in your experience. Use these questions for your review:
How do I feel about my journal entries?
Is there anything that concerns or alarms me?
Is there anything that I feel pleased/proud of?
What repeated patterns can I see? (the same phrases/thoughts/emotions/triggers/people)
How could my anxiety be improved?
Tool #2 Sensory Self-care.
Self-care for adults is what cuddles are to babies and we need them regularly. In thinking about your self-care consider these things:
What sensations are soothing to me:
good food (preferably nutritious too)
lovely smells (fragrant lotions)
movement (exercise is statistically the most reliable treatment for anxiety)
touch (from loved ones or the feel of nice fabric and a warm fire)
When have I felt most loved and cared for? (Can I recreate that?)
Who helps me feel good about myself and can I spend time with them?
Lastly, make care of yourself an priority. Put it in your diary or have a friend hold you accountable for sticking to your self-care routine.
Image credit: Unsplash