Strategies for Interrupting Anxious Thinking Patterns
Try these easy to follow strategies to interrupt any changes to the level of anxiety you are experiencing.
When you’re in the grip of anxiety (or any strong emotion) a particular aspect of your brain is over-stimulated leading to an imbalance in activity between the two sides of your brain. This exercise stimulates both hemispheres to even out the electrical activity across the brain and calm it down. It’s amazingly simple and highly effective.
Find an object such as a bottle, or ball which you can easily pass from hand to hand. Now think of something that makes you feel anxious. Once you can really feel it, start passing the object from hand to hand across the front of your body, swinging out to each side and then swooping over again at about the mid-point. Slow it down and make it more rhythmic, saying ‘left’ and right’ as you do that. When you do this for 30 – 60 seconds you will notice the anxiety has reduced considerably.
Start by find a spot on the wall or other point and fix your focus on it. Notice the colour, texture and so on, and then whilst still looking at that spot, de-focus your eyes and become aware of your peripheral vision, in other words the areas to the left and right of your field of vision. You can extend that to imagining the space behind you. You’ll notice your jaw relaxing … and a few moments of this will really reduce tension. Repeat a few times and this will quickly calm your nervous system and help move your focus outside of yourself when your inner voice is bothersome.
This exercise involves simply tracing your fingers. First relax your shoulders. Now hold one hand up in front of you, facing you, fingers fanned out. With the other hand slowly and mindfully trace up and down each finger, and then back again. Follow the movement with your eyes and as you move up and down, gently breathe in and out. Repeat a few times and then spend a few moments just simply becoming aware of the space between your fingers.
Heart Coherence Breathing
Put your hand on the area of your heart in the centre of your chest. Shift your focus to that area, perhaps close your eyes, and allow your breath to slowly flow in out of that area, make it slower and deeper. Then actively focus on creating a warm positive feeling, such as compassion or appreciation, perhaps by thinking of someone or something you care for. Allow your face to soften and notice an inner smile. Continue with this feeling as you begin to notice that all stress has just melted away. This technique allows you to connect with your intuitive intelligence and creates a state of coherence with your inner self. It really does feel good.
Tale of Two Wolves
A grandfather explains to his warrior grandson that there are two wolves within each of us: The good wolf is positive and beneficial - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. On the other hand, the bad wolf is negative and destructive - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. These two wolves fight for control over us. The grandson is curious and asks, “But Grandfather, which wolf will win?”, and the grandfather replies, “The one that wins is the one you feed.”