When it comes to the mind, pain comes from when we are thinking too much into the past (depression) or too much into the future (anxiety). We have all the emotions on this spectrum for a reason and so some anxiety, or feeling down, or anger are all normal and required for various reasons e.g. to move away from something, to be aware of danger, or to push you to follow what’s right for you. It’s only when we are stuck in those extreme emotions in a chronic way that it can impact our health and wellbeing.
Sometimes we can get stuck in a pattern which just needs to be rewired. And part of that healing is the acceptance of where we are right now. This alone can relieve anxiety. There are various ways that I lead people to that in the work that I do which is why my slogan is ‘you are what you are looking for’. I have found that through my training as a Yoga teacher, NLP coach and Hypnotherapist that our pain comes from when we attach emotions to a thought, when we struggle to move out the emotion. Emotion means – to move out, so if it gets stuck then that can be physical, mental or emotional. We need to find our own tools to shift that out. It’s a journey of self awareness. This is mindfulness.
Whether this is occurring in your personal life or at work it is equally as important. Over the years working in corporate learning and development and working with various groups from shop floor salesmen to top execs, I have witnessed anxiety showing it’s face at varying levels with various faces; frustration, anger, introversion/extroversion, physical symptoms such as heart pounding, palpitations, reddening of skin, tightness in chest – ultimately leading to more physical illness. Often it is linked to a feeling of being overwhelmed.
Our fight, flight and freeze is activated when under stress and certain hormones are released which occur to help us survive. Adrenaline and Cortisol prepare the body to escape or fend for yourself, and they are supposed to subside after the alarming situation (in the modern world this also includes just thinking about something). When we are stuck in a pattern our body struggles to let go of those hormones and this can cause a cycle of feeling anxious then thinking about anxiety, which in turn makes you feel anxious. This means you end up feeling hyper-sensitive in situations that might not ordinarily feel stressful.
The five major types of anxiety disorders are:
This is of course not as simple as it can first seem and you would need to read more into each one. E.g. OCD is often associated with obsessive cleaning, but it also refers to obsessive thoughts, not being able to let things go in the mind.
We have two main pathways where anxiety comes from; the Cortex (thinking part of the mind – the ability to project and reflect), and the Amygdala (our primal system that manages our fight, flight and freeze reactions. This is a much quicker route to the symptoms of anxiety as it happens on a subconscious level. This can also include experiences of situations that have had the Amygdala believe are dangerous, even when they are not. This includes unexplained phobias etc. This is because there will have been a time when the Amygdala decided it was something to be feared by storing it in the subconscious most likely from a very specific traumatic event from the past, or a repeated situation from observation or experience that cements a belief system. Either route that anxiety is produced (by the Cortex or Amygdala) they both end up with the symptoms that the Amygdala produces. The Cortex just takes more time to get there. We have to talk to each source differently; the Amygdala is mainly body so needs body talk such as relaxation, laughter, meditation, yoga, walking in nature – to bring Cortisol down and bring Oxytocin and other happy hormones in. The Cortex needs mind techniques. Sometimes we need both.
In my experience anxiety comes from these main areas:
We have a cycle that needs to be broken for the pattern to be rewired. I believe we each have a spiral – up and down; sometimes we can find ourselves stuck in our spiral. Thereby we can raise awareness of red flags, while preparing a unique toolbox for when you find yourself on different places on that negative spiral. It could be nutritious food, walk, meditation, dance, friends, alone time, bath, holiday, depending on what you like to do. But it’s also about raising your self-awareness of what works for you at varying stages of your spiral; sometimes a walk may not be what you need.
Where you feel you need external support you can speak to an external support professional. The objective is always to get you to a place where you know your own tools and have taken empowerment back into your own life. These tools are interchangeable and selecting the right one for me comes with awareness.
The way I see the progress based on the clients I have had is the following:
For example; a person who is calm at work but gets palpitations at home when trying to sleep. This is an example of anxiety. This person wants to change it (step 1). They have acknowledged it, which is an achievement in itself. Then they explore why they get like this (step 2) – perhaps it’s workload, a person at work, their personal pressures at home. Or it could be a pattern that has been around for a long time. After identifying reasons (step 3) they can look at options to move past it (step 4) and make that a new habit (step 5).
Of course it’s never as simple as that and can take some deep soul searching, as well as go through this cycle numerous times to get to the true core. I have found that not one single person alone can help you, it’s about you helping yourself and taking bits of information you resonate with, from different people and different scenarios.
Here are some of my tips for breaking the cycle or maintaining a new balance or way to be/think/live. Of course everyone is different, so it’s about experimenting with what works for you and being kind to yourself in the process. Rather than feel hung up on your feelings and adding more anxiety to it, see if you can step back and observe that feeling without attaching a negative emotion on top of it. Praise yourself for noticing with awareness and keep that positive reinforcement. For your long term anxiety support it’s worth looking into a professional to explore the root cause, it might go back further than you think; a coping mechanism that may have been developed. That’s ok, but if it’s holding you back, perhaps it’s time to address it with compassion and learning to move forward. This also applies to professionals who deal with the biochemistry which can be triggering anxiety.
Everything is choice. From internal reactions to external actions Are you ready to make new choices?
For me, exercise is like any habit that we get out of because ‘life’ gets in the way. But when will we make our positive habits our life? As a Hypnotherapist, NLP coach and with my previous 13 years career in learning and development industry as a senior manager across the Middle East and Far East, I have always been interested in the mind and behaviour. Working alongside 250 nationalities in Dubai I had my belief systems shaken and stirred in the most wonderful way, which opened my mind to other possibilities.
We can easily lose something but we can easily get it back too. I have found over the years that I’ve been in and out of exercise habits; the most difficult part being the decision to get back into it. Doing it is not actually that hard, especially when I’m we’re the zone, but the thought of it? Dreadful. Yet it’s only a thought. Therefore, knowing myself well and observing my patterns I decided to take a different approach to my habits and have applied it to all parts of my life in order to build a healthy and balanced life
I found that two things are essential for it to work; convenience and positive reinforcement. How many times have you found yourself berating yourself for either promising yourself you will go exercise and ‘failing’ to do it, or not doing enough? The bark is worse than the bite. When we decide to take a new habit up we take it to the nth degree. We never make the statement:
‘I would like to become healthy and balanced by taking one step a day and taking it easy on myself, with the appropriate amount of pressure that works for me as this will be the most impactful, long term’.
No we say:
‘I’m going to be so fit that no one will even believe me at first sight, and I’m going to do it in 3 weeks! First I’ll cut out all bad food and work my body like a dog!’.
This is why I don’t do ‘diets’ in the sense of the word when it’s used for the purpose of losing weight. In this instance I don’t even use the word. I still have wine, I still eat pizza and have a coffee here and there and this is what works for me. What works for you might be something different but it starts by getting to know yourself and having a balanced and logical conversation with yourself about this when you’re feeling calm and practical, not when you are in the middle of negative self talk when emotions are ruling your heart and mind. Balance is the key and a balanced mindset reflects the balanced approach to your overall health and well being and then nutritional choices fall under this automatically.
In Yoga we take the teaching from various Gurus and Buddha being one of the main ones would say that there is a cycle in everything that we do in life and peace comes when we can take ourselves out of that cycle. For example, we try to work towards being a selfless person so we give and give until we feel we are taken for granted and then we take back and take back. Then we feel guilty for being selfish and so we give and give again to overcompensate. We get stuck in this selfish-selfless cycle. There is only yourself who can determine what the balance is for you – by going within and taking time out to understand, observe and continually work on yourself in that path towards peace. It’s the same with attachment-non-attachment and working hard/ resting because the human experience is filled with duality; night and day, male and female and love and fear.
So when it comes to building back any kind of positive habit, it helps to first approach it with a positive mindset and balance. We always want the fastest results but long-term it’s not effective. If we can step back enough to see this and have patience we can achieve anything. So I took this method and applied to my running, another love of mine. I am not a fit runner, I’m not an athlete by any means and this is where my acknowledgement and realism takes the first priority in my expectations on myself. So how about start by setting yourself a realistic end result that is unique to you, taking into account your lifestyle.
Then…. it’s literally the first step; try the following: