31 Dec Anxiety – the good, the bad and the ugly…
In the past I have suffered from anxiety. At times mild, and others it’s been crippling. However, until this year I have always been in denial about ‘having anxiety’. I did NOT want that label. I was strong, not weak. I was not that person, you know the ‘anxious one’…
As for a lot of people, 2016 has been a year of change, turbulence and growth. A lot of famous people have left this earth, a lot of relationships have ended, there has been infidelity, a lot of political unrest, a lot of emotional unrest… a lot of things have come to an end… the list goes on. 2016 has not been an easy year for a lot of people. There has been a lot of anxiety in the air.
For me, it has been a year of extreme highs and lows, a lot of transitions and a lot of change. I left my corporate job to pursue my dream of coaching full time and to be more present for my kids. But that one thing alone brought a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety. Should I leave, should I stay? I’d lose my regular income and financial security. What if my coaching business didn’t work out? What if.. what if… what if…?
If I thought I’d had anxiety before, my goodness, it was nothing like what I’ve experienced this year!
Different types of anxiety…?
What I’ve learned in my trainings and research is that anxiety can affect different parts of the brain. And I had no idea what that was like until I experienced it myself.
When it affects the pre-frontal cortex that’s when you get lost in thought, busy mind, trying to find the solution to the problem. Your brain effectively goes into overdrive with thought. This is the more common type of anxiety and comes in varying degrees.
However, when it affects the amygdala, that’s when I’ve experienced the sensation of being frozen in time, thought and reality. That, for me, was much scarier. That’s when I decided to no longer let anxiety control me. I was going to find a way of controlling it.
The biggest realisation and insight I’ve had around anxiety is that to label myself as ‘having anxiety’ was not helpful, in the slightest. What was extremely helpful for me was a passing comment that I am not an anxious person, I am simply having anxious thoughts. Big difference.
However, that in itself isn’t really enough for most people, so here are three exercises I’ve found useful in the short-term when anxiety strikes:
- Mindfulness practises the STOP technique. It simply means when you are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, stressed, or whatever emotion is coming up to ‘Stop’ whatever you are doing. ‘Take a breath’. ‘Observe’ the thought, feeling or emotion, let it go. Then ‘proceed’ with what you were doing.
- A physical thing to do is push your tongue against the back of your top front teeth. Contrary to popular belief, the brain cannot multi-task so your mind cannot think and hold your tongue behind your teeth at the same time.
- Get out in nature. Nature has an amazing way of grounding your energy, plus with the increase in you heart rate from exercise, endorphins will be released. This is my go-to fix – I feel most at peace when my feet are pounding the ground and I’m taking in the sights of nature.
There are many, many coaching, NLP and hypnotherapy techniques which give really powerful and positive long-term results. If you’re struggling, please feel free to contact me. Don’t struggle on in silence.