Ok, so welcome to video 7, the last video in this series on how to handle anxiety. So, just going to whizz through the 7 videos that we’ve covered.
So the first one was an introduction about the course and a little bit about me.
The second video, we started to have a look at anxiety in general, the biology, how it develops and how it can express itself.
Video 3, we started to look at ways in which we can handle the anxiety. First here being that we turn towards anxiety and we are looking at actually allowing ourselves to stay with the anxiety symptoms, to feel the feelings and to stay present and observing these feelings rather than reacting and trying to avoid, trying to suppress, trying to control the feelings and so on.
Video 4 we had a look at the importance of our attention being like a torch, and that you know, one of the issues with anxiety is once the symptoms start coming up for us it then draws our attention onto it and then actually it can increase our wariness, our fear around the symptoms and of course then the anxiety itself grows. So we are looking at just going about everyday life life as much as we can do, including the anxiety, not obsessing about it, actually allowing it to do its thing and be ok as it is.
Video 5, we had a look at the whole area of being good enough and the importance of self acceptance, and letting go of expectations of ourselves that are unrealistic or they are not very compassionate, and also letting go of the conditioning that we would have picked up when we were younger that maybe isn’t serving us that well and comparison with others as a potential source of anxiety and thief of joy.
And then video 6, we looked at how life is, with change being a constant, and how we can go with life, how we can trust it, how we can flow with it, and enjoying the ride!
And this is video 7, the last one where we are doing a summary and going to give some extra resources. So if we bring it all together, everything that we have covered, we have kind of got a bit of an approach that we can apply to different situations. So first of all, we are looking at turning towards the anxiety.
When anxiety comes up, the symptoms are so horrible and all we want to do is get rid of them. We want to avoid them, but these avoidance patterns then actually actually can cause further issues in terms of allowing the anxiety to take control over us. So we’re looking at just turning towards the anxiety, allowing it in and even surrendering to the anxiety, so surrendering to the feelings.
No one’s ever really died from anxiety. The symptoms, horrible as they are, will all move through us. The body is trying to release tension, so we feel the feelings, we surrender to them rather than trying to avoid them, which is all our control mechanisms, all our coping mechanisms that some level are attempts to manage and control and avoid.
So then we noticed them but we stay detached, so it’s ok, this is coming up for me, but we don’t get hooked by them and lost in them and then all the thoughts that start to come up as well where we’re starting to have panicky thoughts and feelings we’re starting to catastrophise; what’s happening to me? what’s going to happen? Then we’re lost in it and the anxiety is kind of running away with itself, so we’re just staying with noticing – “ok this situation, it’s triggering me, it’s coming up and I’m just having a degree of separation so that I’m not being carried away by it. So then we’ve got to look at our philosophy.
What are we telling ourselves?
What are we telling ourselves in terms of how we should be?
What are we telling ourselves in terms of worrying about
what people are thinking of us?
The belief that we might be carrying, and without actually having a look at a philosophy which is going to be more enabling, more gentle, more kind, more supportive. and essentially more inclusive of all the different aspects of ourselves. Then we’ve got that approach maybe before a certain situation or an event that’s triggering, where we can do that inner reassurance, that adult presence, just coming and connecting with that scared part of us.
Just saying “It’s ok”, “I’m here, I’ll do this. You don’t need to do anything” – just holding the hand of that inner child, that younger part of us, just that comforting, nurturing way of being that switches off the ‘fight or flight’, and we can even picture or think of times when we felt nurtured by others and bring that into mind and, you know, with my flying anxiety that I had, it was interesting when I noticed that although I was really anxious myself, when a younger family member was sitting next to me, and he was feeling scared, and actually I was thinking about soothing soothing him and reassuring him, then my own anxiety fell away, because I was in my nurture system rather than in my fight or flight system.
Then we can centre and ground so, ok, the anxiety is coming up for us or that the apprehensive fear of something, just bring our attention back feeling grounded, feet on the ground, that belly breathing that’s just bringing our centre of gravity down, calming us, feeling anchored where we are. And actually then, if you’ve got that quality, we don’t need to be anywhere else. We might feel previously that we were feeling trapped, or agoraphobic and actually once you’ve got that quality of grounded-ness and presence, then it’s ok for us to just be where we are.
And if you think about as a sort of mind game, if I’m here now, if I want to get out of the situation, and I take myself over there, well then I’m still here now.
I’m always here now. That’s the thing that we can anchor ourselves with. We’re always with ourselves. So then we move on to say, going into social situations, we can put our focus on others. Even before we’re going into a situation (could be like an interview) it’s like well rather than being self-conscious and worrying about how we are going to be judged.
Maybe we can actively think about the other person and how it is for them and wishing them well, so that practice, that kindness practice, that meta exercise, we’re doing that prior to going into the situation and actually that will switch off our ‘fight or flight’ and bring us into more of that connecting way of being. And then, this realisation that life is moving and changing and a lot of it is out of our control anyway, so perhaps we can just go with the flow. Perhaps we can have that quality of feeling held and being carried by the river – it’s safe enough – and all we need to do is just a little bit of paddling, just to keep with the flow.
- And then lastly, to start to wonder about “what is this anxiety teaching me?”
- Are there certain gifts in this difficult process?
- Is it forcing me to turn inwards and to connect with myself?
- Is it forcing me to re-evaluate how I live my life?
- Are there lessons that I can pass on to others?
Is there a different way of earning money, and is there a different emphasis that I can put on life about what matters?
Maybe some of this anxiety is trying to wake us up to a different way of being. So other hints and tips – I have put these in here. I am sure a lot of these you’ll already be aware of, so, exercise is good because it’s releasing tension and burning off some of that adrenaline that maybe in our system, so cardio work and then the more calming exercises such as yoga and Chi-gong, they’re very good and allow the body to be moving and releasing in a calm way.
There’s looking at our nutrition. We want to be managing our blood sugar, so eating regularly and not bingeing, because if our blood sugars are going up and down then that can create anxiety. Supplements which might be helpful; magnesium is meant to be good B vitamins are meant to be good, Vit C, Vit D and being hydrated generally – again, if we are dehydrated, we can start feeling a bit anxious. Avoiding too many stimulants (sugar, alcohol, caffeine, other drugs) because these are going to spike our system and then we’re going to feel anxious.
Then the whole area of mindfulness and meditation. I’m going to be doing some courses on those next. Nature is naturally grounding and calming and so to get out into nature, and to discharge. Essentially to feel grounded, can be a really good thing to do and there are apps that help with this, such as Calm.
Then we’ve got relaxation, the whole topic of relaxation. We live very frantic lifestyles, so to prioritise relaxation, chill out music, time to rest and repair and sleep, massage, singing, humming splashing your face with water, these are all things that activate the Vagal tone – part of the Polyvagal Theory that I mentioned previously, which is the way that we’re wired and what’s happening in our system when we are doing our fight or flight. This can actually put a brake on that and move us into our parasympathetic system which is our rest and repair, our relaxation system.
And then philosophy, our personal philosophy, I touched on themes from Taoism and Stoicism and then there maybe particular faiths or spirituality which can be supportive that sense of feeling ‘held’, a sense of feeling that we’re part of something bigger, that actually (biologically) is also activating that nurture system, because it’s like a baby being soothed by the mother or the father, that you’re feeling held, you’re feeling safe, you’re feeling supported and obviously the other benefits that come from a faith or spirituality.
I’ll be doing some courses on Taoism and Stoicism later this year as well. And then just accessing support.
Yeah. We’ve got family, friends – reach out. It’s not a weakness to do that. We’re wired want to feel a sense of belonging and connection, so let people in, let people support us and enjoy that connection you might want to get involved in some charities, there might be some online forums discussing anxiety themes or something completely different.
I’m hoping that I’m going to start building up a bit of a Facebook group to help as well, and then standard support systems; seeing your GP, they might advise some medication, the SSRI’s, the antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, you know there’s no stigma with this is about accessing support as as we see fit that’s going to help us in our process. And as I said, community belonging helping others, gardens, gyms, all these sorts of things they can actually shift the emphasis off of really just focusing on the anxiety, and starting to feel that our world is opening up. So books that I’ve mentioned previously in the videos; Self-help for your nerves, is a really essential book to make sense of what’s happening when we are first experiencing overwhelming anxiety.
And the Mindfulness book with the CD in the back. The Tao of Inner Peace – that’s a nice book on the philosophy of relaxing into ‘what is’. Feel the fear and do it anyway. That’s a good book for appreciating that fear and anxiety is part of ‘being human’ but we don’t need to let it dictate how we live our lives and homecoming is the book I mentioned around connecting with our inner child. Some websites, the top one ‘Anxiety UK’ is a charity just focused on anxiety. The kindness meditation link there, that gives a bit more information on that meditation approach. Eckhart Tolle I’ve found him really helpful to watch his previous anxiety sufferer, who has a nice sort of playful attitude for bringing ourselves back to the present moment and feeling safe enough in the now.
There’s the Centre for Mindful Self Compassion, which has some resources and meditations on building self compassion, so that we can actually start to be more gentle with ourselves. The Alan Watts video there is the South Park Style video which gives a nice sort of playful look at enjoying life and living life as it happens, rather than always focusing on what’s coming down the line and you know maybe obsessing about enjoying status and success later down the line, which means that we’re missing the show as it’s happening now, and the Brene Brown video is a really good Ted video on the importance of vulnerability and not trying to be perfect.
So, further courses coming down the line so watch the Facebook page for that, and if you want to connect, there’s my Facebook group ‘Contemporary Coach’, my website ‘alanhills.com’ and you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m on LinkedIn as well. and just finally to say thank you – thank you from me, and thank you from Oscar!