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Take control of anxiety - if you do not control your anxiety, it will control you

Anxiety, excitement and anger are the feelings associated with the production of adrenaline, cortisol and other hormones that your body needs to help you deal with particularly stressful situations.

This ‘flight or fight’ reaction, affects every system in your body and symptoms of anxiety are numerous and can vary from person to person. They include muscle tension, headaches and migraine, sweating, digestive and appetite disorders, chest pains, irritability, breathlessness, sleeplessness, memory problems, fuzzy thinking, very reactive emotional behaviour, an inability to concentrate and depression.

One big event or a series of smaller situations can create large amounts of adrenaline to accumulate in your body. These hormones takeover your body functions and you feel overwhelmed and out of control. Your emotions are definitely in charge and you start to doubt your own judgement and feelings as they can change so rapidly.

This article and the following techniques will help you to control your body and enable you to ‘override’ your automatic, instinctual reactions.

Use these throughout your day before, during and after stressful situations and start to get back in control of your anxious feelings:

1. Ground Yourself

Really feel your feet.

Once you feel your feet notice each of you toes, the balls of your feet, the instep and the heel.

Gently rock your feet and notice the weight transferring from each part of your feet.

2. Breathe

Take long gentle breaths from your feet up through your body and out the top of your head. Count the breath in and count it out. Try and make the out breath slightly longer than the in breath.

Use these two exercises, and you will without the danger of triggering off overwhelming feelings, and therefore stay safer and in control if you follow these tips.

3. Become your own observer

Being able to detach from your feelings can extremely useful when you feel overwhelmed.

Take a step back and look at yourself or the situation as if you are on a cinema screen if you are finding it hard to control your feelings. This will help you to stay in control and not become more anxious.

You can stop engaging so powerfully with your own, and other people's, emotions and engage the more rational part of your brain. As you do this you can start to think and make decisions about how to deal with a situation.

4. Become compassionate, curious and interested

Take some long steady breaths, engage your observing self and become interested and curious. You will not slip into fear, self criticism or negativity and this tool is quick and effective.

Ask yourself lots of non judgemental, compassionate, questions.

Be interested in why you react as you do, why someone might think/say/behave as they do, what I could do differently, that’s interesting, etc.

5. Come into the here and now

Literally stand up and move around. Change your location and engage your observing self. Use your senses to hold you in the present - now I can see, feel, taste, smell etc. Notice where you are, say today's date. Check if you are safe.

This technique helps you to deal with the present situation without being overwhelmed by your history.

Unless you put these techniques into practise they will not help you. You must change your body’s habits and your thoughts and behaviour to change how you feel.

3 Stage Personal Action Plan:

1)

  • One way I can stay more detached from my feelings is by..............
  • One way I can stay more detached from my feelings is by..............
  • One way I can stay more detached from my feelings is by..............
  • I will practise  this.................

2)

  • One way I can stay curious is to..................
  • One way I can stay curious is to..................
  • One way I can stay curious is to..................
  • I will practise this................

3)

  • One way I will stay in the here and now is to..................
  • One way I will stay in the here and now is to..................
  • One way I will stay in the here and now is to..................
  • I will practise this.................................

Keep this list with you because you will forget them as soon as you get anxious.

Practise the techniques in small bursts regularly for maximum benefit. Don’t start with the most difficult situation first. Give yourself a chance and start with the easiest person or situation first.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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