How to overcome anxiety
You have all the resources and knowledge needed to live a happy and worry-free life. These resources might be hidden beneath a veil of fear and negativity, but they are waiting to be discovered – and through the relaxing process of hypnotherapy, you can find them and begin to create the kind of life you choose.
What follows are some strategies known to reduce anxiety – see which ones resonate with you, put them into practice and give yourself a chance to become the tranquil happy person you truly are.
Give your body the basic necessities: Sleep well, eat well and stay hydrated. Proper rest and nutrition are essential. If you are finding sleep difficult, invest in a hypnotherapy audio. If you are under or over-eating, consider making lifestyle changes based around what your body needs; many doctors surgeries offer support in this area (or you may wish to consult www.NHS.uk).
Share with a caring listener: Calmly talking through your anxieties with a supportive listener can be helpful. Don’t dwell excessively on what is troubling you, keep the conversation positive and tell your friend about things that are going well too, how you would like to feel and any thoughts you have about how you are going to get there. If there is no one suitable to talk with, you can approach your GP for support.
Use your imagination: When we are anxious we visualise and dwell on all sorts of unhappy outcomes. Time to turn that around! Close your eyes, create or bring to mind the image of a beautiful and happy place. Think what it would be like to be there: what would you see, smell, feel and hear? Initially, do this practice when you are feeling calm, so that it is easier to build the mental image up during times of anxiety.
Don’t beat yourself up: Many of us are kind and understanding towards our friends but never cut ourselves any slack. So you are not perfect; you messed something up; you are not on top of something; you did something you regret – join the club! Use anything that has gone wrong as the reversed mirror image of what you want your life to be like – you now know the outcome you don’t want, so what small step can you take that will bring you closer to the outcome you do desire?
Take time for a reality check: Anxiety can be overwhelming, flooding our thoughts with all sorts of terrible fears. It can seem as if those fears are very real. But are they? Take time out, repeat the calming exercises outlined here. Most of the things we worry about won’t happen anyway. And always remember that unexpected good things can happen.
Remember what fear is: Anxiety is intended to help you run from, hide from or fight a threat; that’s right, anxiety is a fight or flight response triggered by an overload of stress. For many of us, most of this stress is caused by the way we are thinking about a situation, rather than the situation itself. Our body responds, releasing adrenaline and cortisol, getting us ready for an imaginary threat. Recognising that this is a fear-induced defence system helps us turn the volume down on the “anxiety alarm” as we regain intellectual control.
What’s the best that can happen: Repeatedly imagining a situation going wrong just ups the amount of anxiety we are experiencing. So, what’s the best thing that could happen? Try to visualise the situation developing the way you want it to. How would you know things were going well? What small step can you take to lead you closer to that positive outcome?
Limit your worries: Set aside twenty minutes a day as solution time – when a worrying thought crops up, tell yourself ‘I will think about this during solution time,’ and then put the thought aside. No matter how often the thought reoccurs, tell yourself the same thing. During solution time, review the worrying thoughts, write them down if you wish, but for each one ask yourself, ‘How would I like this to be? What is the opposite outcome to the one I’m worrying about? What small step could I take to make this situation better?’ If nothing comes to mind immediately, stick with it and see what ideas surface. If you have a hypnotherapy audio, play it at the end of your solution time.
Take action: Anxiety causes procrastination, and yet the more we procrastinate, the more anxious we become. Taking a small step towards solving a problem – perhaps calling someone for advice, responding to a letter or making an appointment with a professional – is a decisive act that makes a positive outcome more likely. Each positive action you take – however small – brings you closer to a solution.
Get active: Our bodies are designed for action and we get a healthy dose of what I like to call “happy brain soup” when we do a physical activity we enjoy. Whether it is walking the dog, playing a sport or weeding the garden, as long as we are active and doing something we enjoy, we generate serotonin and other feel-good chemicals that make us more confident, resilient and happy.
Get social: We are social-animals and have evolved to be happier as part of a “tribe”. Your tribe might be a few close friends or relatives, or more people than you can count, but no matter who you are, social interaction with supportive, friendly people will help you generate the “happy brain soup” needed to overcome anxiety. If your anxiety is of the social sort, begin with a person you trust. You are in charge, you can choose to expand your comfort zone as slowly or as quickly as you wish, and if this is troublesome, the hypnotherapy directory has dozens of experts who can help you overcome anxiety and live the life you deserve.
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About Jon Creffield
Jon Creffield (HPD, DHP, DSFH) is a CNHC registered Solution Focused Hypnotherapist specialised in using relaxation, guided imagery and metaphor to help clients achieve life-enhancing changes. He is a member of the National Council For Hypnotherapy and the Association For Solution Focused Hypnotherapy. Jon is based in North Somerset near Bristol.