In this short video I’m going to share with you a general 3 step strategy for dealing with anxious thoughts and anxious feelings.
I am focusing on the anxiety that people are facing coming out of lockdown but the steps are general purpose and appropriate for many situations.
If you prefer to read rather than watch, you will find a transcription below.
Please note that this is automatically generated text and may contain slight errors.
At the moment people are understandably nervous. there’s been a lot of changes going on in the world in the last 18 months. And there is still change happening. In general people like certainty and so change makes people nervous.
But we can’t control what is going on out there in the world. But the one thing that we can control is our response to it. And it’s our response to what’s happening in the world that creates our experience.
So if you are feeling nervous about what is going to happen as we come out of lockdown, or any future event, the key is having a plan of how you’re going to respond ahead of time. It’s a much better idea than waiting for things to things happen, and then trying to figure out what to do in the heat of the moment.
Number 1 is take control of your breathing. This is especially true if you’re experinceing any physical feelings in your body.
You don’t need to learn fancy breathing techniques, yes, they can be useful and maybe that’s a more advanced thing to do, but you don’t need them for now,
The very first thing that you need to do is start to pay attention to how you’re breathing right now. How quickly are you breathing? How deeply? Are you breathing through your nose or mouth, or a combination of both.
Once you’ve done that take a long slow breath out. Really empty your lungs. It’s vitally important that if you’re going to change your breathing to help you feel less anxious that you start by emptying your lungs.
After that just start to breath normally again, only this time, breath slightly slower than you normally would and slightly deeper. That’s it, and just continue to focus on your breathing for a few moments.
The effect of this is that slow breathing will slow down your heart rate. Slowing down your heart rate reduces the adrenaline and cortisol in your body, which will make you feel less anxious.
As you start to feel better as you continue to breathe in this way I want you to say to yourself in in a calm voice inside your mind is: I’m okay. Everything’s okay. And I’m going to be okay.
I know that you have faced many challenges in your life. Things that were difficult. Times when you didn’t know what you were going to do or how things were going to work out and you have always overcome them in one way or another. And this is no different. I’m okay. Everythings okay. I’m going to be okay.
The second part of the strategy is to focus on what you can control. If somebody sits down next to you without a mask on a train or a bus, you can’t control their actions.
And focusing on what they are doing can cause anxiety. So Focus your attention on what you can control.
You can control that you are wearing a mask.
You can ask them if would they mind putting a mask on. You have control of what you say. they might not put a mask on, you can’t control their response. But you can control if you ask them.
To a certain extent you can control where you sit and could move seats, or you could get off the bus or the train and wait for the next on. I’m not saying these are necessarily workable solutions. But when you start to ask the question, what can I control? That’s when you start to be more creative in your ideas, and you will come up with more and better solutions.
Focusing on what you can’t control cause anxiety
Focusing on what you can control reduces anxiety
The third part is change the channel of your thinking. If you’re watching the TV, and you didn’t like like the program, you’re going to change the channel and you can learn to do the same with your thinking. It’s not difficult But it can take a little bit preparation.
I’m guessing that you have either got photographs on your phone or you could put some on there.
Pick a photograph or series of photographs that really mean something to you, your wedding day and night out with friends or a holiday. Pick some good times.
And then what you need to do is practice reliving those moments. Stepping into the memory and reliving it as if it was happening now. Because when you relive it all those good feelings come back to you and it helps you to feel good in the present moment . When you’re feeling good anxiety can’t exist.
If you’re feeling anxious, if you’re having anxious thoughts, looking at a photograph that you haven’t looked at for six months and trying to relive it is going to be difficult. That’s why t’s important that you practices up front so that it’s the most natural thing. You can quickly look at the photograph step back into the moment and lose yourself in it. You’ll find that you start to feel good really quickly
So three part strategy part one, take control of your breathing, slow it dow. Then. I’m okay. Everything’s gonna be okay, I’m going to be ok. Part Two. Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t control. And part three is switch the channel of your thinking and use a photograph to help you to do that.
If you just practice those 3 things and get really good at them you will reduce and in some cases eliminate anxiety.