Our mind is a powerful tool. If misused it can cause us no end of suffering. Our imagination and our emotions are very tightly woven. What we imagine can seem very real, and illicit very strong emotions, as is the thing itself was occurring.
If you are suffering from being anxious, try these 5 tactics to help release and alleviate the anxiety, and take back control of your mind.
Tactic #1: Pull a fast one on your anxiety by utilizing the other side of your brain
Anxiety makes it hard to think in a clear way, and is typically rooted in the left side of our brain. The side that’s creative, which makes sense since anxiety is caused by your imagination. This can lock you into a wicked anxiety cycle and keep you in your left brain;
One way to overcome anxiety is to force yourself to use your right brain. The side of your brain responsible for logic. You can engage this side of your brain by focusing on logical things. Counting your breathing, working on a math puzzle, questioning yourself about your anxiety level (on a scale of 1-10 my anxiety is where?). Basically anything that forces you to center your attention on a logical, scientific, concrete topic.
This will start to diffuse your emotional state and start to reduce your anxiety.
Tactic #2: Use a technique that has been shown to work called AWARE
AWARE is an acronym that stands for:
A: Accept. Don’t fight the feeling. Accept that you are, in fact, anxious.
W: Watch. Be the observer (right mind). Watch the anxiety, observe how your body feels, notice it. Notice your breathing, try to extend it.
A: Act Normally. Fake it till you make it right? This one means you should do your best to ACT as if everything is normal. This sends a strong message to your mind that its anxiety response is really not necessary.
R: Repeat. If needed, keep repeating the above steps until the anxiety abades.
E: Expect the best. Maintain a strong expectation that the best is coming. Anxiety is very much expectation based. You’re expecting something negative. If you instead, expect something positive, it can short circuit the anxiety.
Tactic #3: Breath can control emotion.
Physiologically speaking, short, shallow, rapid breathing is a trigger that can start an anxiety cycle. So if recognize this and consciously do the opposite, it can stop the anxiety before it gets to its peak.
Start by lengthening your breaths. Count your inhale and exhale and try to make each a bit longer than the last. Make sure you are taking deep breaths. Breath from your belly. Slow your breaths to a rhythmic tempo. This should help reduce the anxiety.
Tactic #4: Rehearse a trouble free, peaceful, experience.
Whatever future event, or imagined future event, that is making you anxious (speech, doctors appointment, flight), take it and imagine it while practicing your deep breathing. What you want to do is associate the upcoming event with your peaceful, calm breathing.
Every time you start to think about that event with anxiety, do your breathing while continuing to imagine it.
When the time comes, your anxiety level will be much lower, or completely gone.
Tactic #5: Use your powerful imagination to your benefit.
Anxiety is caused when you imagine a negative experience in your future. So when you start to imagine the negative experience, start your breathing and start to change things in your mind.
If you nervous about a flight and you’re imagining a crash on take off, start to change that image. Instead imagine you’re calm and collected in your seat feeling the rush of the plane accelerating to take off speed. Imaging a smooth climb to cruising altitude. Imagine the fasten seatbelt sign turning off and the flight attendants coming around to serve beverages. All a calm, peaceful, delightful experience… as it will be.
Anxiety is sometimes a tough nut to crack precisely because its often rooted in the illogical. And its hard to logically keep yourself calm in the face of the illogical feeling. Using one or more of these 5 tactics can, and will help to reduce your anxiety.
I use them all at different times and they rarely fail to do the trick.
Give them a try and see how they work for you.