Anxiety can be an extremely debilitating condition, and it affects a large percentage of the population - most of us can probably recall feeling stressed or anxious at some point in our lives.
Anxiety comes about when your mind overreacts as a response to danger. Most things we are reacting to do not require a fight or flight reaction, but our mind still behaves as if we are in real danger, even when assessing an overdue phone bill, or an urgent email. While anxiety can feel overwhelming, there are a few simple techniques you can employ to alleviate it quickly - we spoke to Harley Street therapist Christopher Paul Jones, AKA The Breakthrough Expert, to give you the lowdown...
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1. Change your breathing
One of the quickest and least-used methods is to focus on your breathing. When you are stressed or anxious, the first thing that changes is your breathing. It can become very fast and shallow. One of the most effective ways to deal with this is by taking deep diaphragmatic breaths, breathing in through your nose for five seconds, holding it and then exhaling through your mouth for five seconds. After you have done this for a few minutes, you should feel calmer.
2. Change the pictures in your mind
When we are anxious our thoughts tend to race more quickly than we are able to process them, which causes us to go into overwhelm. Often this is merely a product of several images appearing in your mind at the same time. Slow these down, note what you see. Are you imagining everything going wrong? Try running the pictures in reverse or changingthe images to black and white and adding a comedy soundtrack. What would happen if you would imagine these images as a cartoon? You will find that these simple changes can lessen the impact of the tension you feel.
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3. Change your focus
Shifting your focus is tremendously powerful. If you have a specific event that is causing you anxiety - a presentation, for example - a great way to combat the fear is to imagine what you might feel, see and know after you’ve successfully completed it. In the case of a presentation, instead of imagining what may go wrong, i.e. the PowerPoint not working or forgetting your subject matter, imagine how will you feel when it is over and you receive fantastic feedback. Hold onto that feeling and now, as you get ready to deliver that presentation, notice how your anxiety diminishes.
4. Get in touch with both parts of the brain
Did you know that one side of the brain deals with logic and the other side deals with emotion? If you can access both at the same time whilst focusing on the issue causing you stress you will combat it. Look straight ahead while thinking about your anxiety, then allow your eyes to move slowly from left to right passing between the bridge of your nose and then back again. Keep repeating this process and you will notice the intensity of your anxiety will reduce fairly quickly.
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5. Tap away the fear
A popular method to stay relaxed in the moment is known as tapping,(TFT, EFT, or Meridian Tapping).By tapping on a number of acupuncture points whilst thinking about your fear, you can drastically reduce it.
Tap each of these places in order for about five seconds while thinking about what makes you anxious. If you want to, you can repeat a mantra at the same time.
Hand - Take two fingers and tap on the part of your hand that you would use to do a karate style chop.
Fingers - Tap each finger on either side of the nail.
Eyebrow – Tap just above and to one side of the nose, at the beginning of the eyebrow.
Side of the Eye - Tap the bone bordering the outside corner of the eye.
Under the Eye - Tap the bone under an eye about one inch below your pupil.
Under the Nose - Tap the indent between the bottom of your nose and the top of your upper lip.
Chin – Tap midway between the point of your chin and the bottom of your lower lip.
Collar Bone – Tap the junction where the sternum (breastbone), collarbone and the first rib meet.
Under the Arm - Tap the side of the body, about four inches below the armpit.
Top of the Head – Tap with your fingers back-to-back down the centre of the skull.
Practice these five processes whenever you start to feel stressed or anxious, and note how they help reduce anxiety in your daily life.
Christopher, aka The Breakthrough Expert, is a therapist based in Harley Street who specialises in helping people let go of their fears, anxieties, and even their phobias.
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