Few people will be unaware that a significant and seemingly ever growing number of people are experiencing very debilitating levels of anxiety daily. Many people were suffering with anxiety long before the pandemic struck of course but events since March 2021 have seen that number rise dramatically. these days I estimate that 80% of my clients are suffering from anxiety and its impact in some way – chronic worrying, general anxiety disorder, panic attacks, insomnia, depression, alcohol and other substance abuse.
As a hypnotherapist I can help people overcome anxiety but of course there are ways that people can help themselves without therapy such as meditating/mindfulness practice, regular physical exercise, connecting with friends and loved ones, being outdoors in nature, only reading and watching things that make you “belly laugh” or feel uplifted in some way. Here are a few more simple and practical ways that can help reduce anxiety – some may appear strange or “off the wall” but give theses a go – you never know unless you try and these techniques are often surprisingly effective.
Chewing Gum or Gently biting the tip of your tongue
If you are salivating, it reduces anxiety! If you do not want to use chewing gum – then simply put the tip of your tongue between your teeth and gently bite it…. you will find your mouth naturally salivates as a result.
Daily Laughing in the Mirror Exercise
Stand in front of a mirror and watch yourself as you laugh out loud for 2 minutes….do this every morning! Resist any urge to look away or stop …if it feels “daft” that’s good as it can help you to see the funny side and besides, the brain cannot tell the difference between false laughter and real laughter, you get the benefit anyway! Remember that life is never as serious as your mind can make it out to be.
Using four fingers, firmly tap the point at the centre of the top of your head 50 times – do this 3 times a day and it helps to prevent anxiety (and to feel better generally)
Name the feeling
Name it either out loud (if appropriate), internally, or by writing it down. This has been shown to lessen anxiety even in people who thought there was no way it would!
I recommend you write down in a notebook, in some detail, the way you are feeling when you become anxious. You can use as many extreme, even exaggerated, fear words as possible with the assurance that this can help dilute the actual anxiety.
We human beings have an innate need to express ourselves. Putting experience into words can dilute its impact, as we have to use the left prefrontal lobe of the brain to verbalize in this way. Since anxiety is essentially an emotion expressed through the right hemisphere of the brain, this activation of the left hemisphere can reduce the experience of anxiety.
Grade Your Anxiety and then “Breathe you way down”
Grade the anxiety on a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 being no anxiety at all and 10 being the most terror you could possibly experience…..then decide what number you would be happy with in this situation and ‘breathe your way down’ to that level using 7/11….bring to mind a picture of you as you would be when you at your target number….(see how you look, feel and act, facial expressions, energy state , etc – imagine yourself changing before your eyes)
Discharge it with exercise
Taking regular aerobic exercise is of course a great way to help minimize stress and anxiety. But you could also make yourself do short intense bursts of exercise when feeling strong anxiety or before a stressful event if it’s practical to do so. For example, run on the spot as fast as you can for 2 minutes….go for a brisk walk for 12 minutes…do as many press ups or star jumps or squats or sit ups you can in 2 or 3 minutes
In the evening of the day and /or first thing in the morning remind yourself of what you can be grateful for in your life…. but this is not a checklist list making ‘analytical exercise’ but an experiential one, so you need to let yourself feel the gratitude you have or could have.
You can also each evening bring to mind 3 things that were great about the day e.g. what went well, what surprised you delightfully, pleasant moments and again when you think about these ask yourself “and how does that make me feel?” and appreciate the positives no matter how great or small.