This week is Anxiety Awareness week. Anxiety is a challenge for us all to varying degrees. However, what is anxiety-producing for one person may be a breeze for another. I remember during an NLP training working with a young woman who was getting in touch with a memory of being at her most relaxed state. Her memory was of being on stage with an audience of thousands! I didn’t know at the beginning that she was a singer and obviously felt inflow during her performance, which made her calm and relaxed. I remember my confusion and my internal conflict as she described events, that was a massive wake up call for me to acknowledge the obvious.
We all have a different a history, a different tale to tell and varying meanings we make of those events. So first and foremost it is respectful to recognise and appreciate that we don’t always share the same anxiety triggers.
Signs of anxiety
Although the reasons for our anxious state can vary massively the signs that we are in an anxious state are pretty much universal.
- Feeling irritable
- Unable to think about anything other than your issue
- Headaches or migraine
- Feeling nauseous
- Shortness of breath
- Sweaty especially your palms
- Gut/tummy signals grabbing your attention
Anxiety as a messenger
Our bodies are constantly being vigilant, scanning our environment even without our conscious awareness. We can feel anxiety for no good reason. If one minute you were feeling ok and suddenly your not, consider who you are with. Is what you are feeling actually yours or are you picking it up from someone else? You can literally ask yourself “who does this belong to?”
If you have a sense that it is yours to deal with then scan your body and locate the feeling. Our body sends messages to our brain to interpret and we can create all kinds of stories about what it is about.
Change your breathing to change your state.
You will notice that in the list of signs is that you will be breathing more shallow. This is getting us ready to fight or flight and is causing our sympathetic nervous system to amp up. Once you have awareness of your state (and if you don’t need to run!) you can observe your breath and start to make your out-breath slightly longer. This engages your parasympathetic system which is about rest and digest. You are signalling to your body that you are ok. You most likely in no time at all will begin to calm yourself down, self-regulation is available to us through our breath.
Now back to the bodily sensation. Do you sense the feeling has a shape or a colour to it? what is the intensity on a scale of 1 to 10? 10 being bad. Put your attention on the sensation and ask in your mind’s eye ” what is behind this feeling? emotions are meant as signals for action, keeping us safe. If we are not in a dangerous environment and do not need to escape we can allow them to pass through us. They have highlighted the anxiety that is still held within your body. Our bodies record events throughout our lives and if we do not dissipate it, it builds sometimes to breaking point. When we wrestle mentally with anxiety we can create a bigger problem for ourselves. Our thoughts and feelings are in a feedback loop. Our thoughts create the chemicals storms within our bodies.
Tools for helping anxiety
You can also use high street products to help with anxious feelings. If I wake in the night and feel anxious (stage of life) I will reach for my bedside bottle of the essential oil blend Serenity Packed with Lavender, Sweet Marjoram, Roman Chamomile, Hawaiian Sandlewood and Vanilla it soothes me back to a calm state and aids my sleep.
If I wanted to use Bach remedies I could use Rescue Remedy which is the most well known of the flower essence range. It is a combination of 5 flowers. Created for emergencies as it helps keep you focussed and brings a sense of calm. Ideal if you know you are heading into a stressful situation, maybe an interview or driving test for example. It has within it:
- Star of Bethlehem. for trauma and shock
- Cherry Plum, for fear of losing control
- Rock Rose, for panic or terror
- Clematis, to bring clarity and alertness to a situation
- Impatiens, alleviating the impatient feelings and lowering stress
Both essential oils and Bach remedies do not need your permission to work. You can take them even if you do not think they will do anything! They work because they are connecting to your system outside of your beliefs.
Stay out of your head and get into your body where the messages are being sent from. Use your breath to stabilise your nervous system. Take advantage of natures creations in the form of essential oils and Bach remedies. The more you can observe and work with your emotional anxiety the less it will eventually have a hold over you over time. You will always have levels of anxiety and that is normal. Self-regulation is our birthright only no one tells us about it. It is a shame it is not taught in schools, isn’t it?! Oh, don’t get me started…..