How to deal with anxiety
Why you need to be anxious
If you could get rid of all of your anxiety forever would you?
On the surface, it sounds tempting but unfortunately, anxiety is essential for your well being. In fact, if your ancestors hadn't experienced anxiety then you probably wouldn't be here today. They likely would have been eaten by predators or walked too close to a cliff edge.
Everyone needs to be capable of anxiety when it's appropriate. If you had no anxiety at all when crossing the road you would have no impetus to look before you step out.
Anxiety is designed to keep you safe. Contingency planning is only possible with some level of anxiety as you need to care about what might happen. It helps you to get things done that you don't necessarily enjoy. Like cleaning your teeth because you don't want to lose them.
It's the level of anxiety which is the issue. For some people, their 'spidey sense' can be set too high in certain situations. Meeting friends for a drink can feel as fear-inducing as cliff diving.
Anxiety is trying to help but how can you stop it being a problem?
“What if?” is a question that causes a lot of anxiety for many people. It's often not answering the question which ties your mind up in knots. Thinking each scenario through to the end, including how you would deal with it if it did happen, can set your mind at rest. Confident people don't believe that everything will always go perfectly but they do believe they can cope if it doesn't.
Your mind has the ability to be in two places at once. That's how you can be here now but worrying about some time in the future. Use that ability in a positive way. If waiting at the doctor's makes you anxious take a good book and transport your mind into a fictional world or simply daydream about something relaxing like a holiday.
The 7/11 breathing technique can also be helpful. Simply breathe in for a count of 7 and out for a count of 11. When you're in fight or flight mode your body naturally breathes in for longer than it breathes out to build up oxygen to prime your muscles for running. By breathing out for longer than you breathe in your brain receives the message that you don't need extra oxygen so the danger must be over.
Similarly in fight or flight blood retracts from the stomach as eating is not an essential activity when you're in danger. So if you chew some gum the brain gets the signal that everything must be okay now because you're eating.
However, when anxiety is very high it can be difficult to think clearly enough to implement calming strategies. If you've tried the methods above and you still think you'd like more help then hypnosis can be very beneficial. As the perception of danger is in the mind you can use hypnosis to teach your mind not to trigger anxiety in those inert situations that it used to react to.
Anxiety is trying to protect you but if it becomes overzealous there are things you can do.
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