Fear of needles? Anxiety?

This is a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) technique called anchoring.  In the video - link below -  I take you through the process of 'anchoring in' the feelings of calmness, relaxation and being in control.  During times when you are feeling stressed you can use your anchor to alter your feelings.  I recorded the video to help people with a fear of needles but the technique works well for coping in any stressful situation.

Some other tips for managing stress - distraction.  Stress is usually accompanied by 'what if...' thoughts...the stuff that 'might' go wrong.  Tune in to your thoughts - that voice in your head...is it your best friend or your worse enemy?  If it is the latter, try distraction - look around you and see if you can identify 10 things that are blue (or green/red whatever), next identify 10 different sounds around you and then 10 different smells.  This grounds you in the present moment and also reassures the brain that is no real, immediate danger around you.

Another form of distraction is breathing - when you are stressed, your breathing is shallow and quick....your body's way of preparing you to 'fight' or escape from the danger.  When there is no immediate danger though, you can reset this response by consciously controlling your breathing.  Deep, slow inhalation...and count during breathing in; next hold your breath for the same count then exhale, again for the same count.  Then hold on empty for the same count.  Repeat several times!  And at each stage image during one side of a square so that by the time you have finished the breathing round you have a complete square.  This exercise sounds easy but it takes a little practice.  So worth it though!  This works when you can't sleep - better than counting sheep!

Know that stress and anxiety are normal.  As human beings, these are feelings designed to keep us alive.  If something like a fierce bear or an axe-murderer were to appear we need to be ready - to either fight or escape.  The stress response is like an alarm - a warning system. 

The problem comes when the alarm system is always on...or if it is on a hair-trigger.  Things like emails, imminent meetings, news stories or social media posts ... even a smell or the mention of something/someone can all trigger stress.  None of which are immediately life threatening but they can activate that 'what if' mind chatter as well as turn on the stress chemicals in your body. Then you get the stomach churn, the sweaty hands, the tension in your jaw or shoulders - all of which reinforce the thoughts that something is wrong....and the spiral continues. This is when a re-set is needed. 

No point in telling yourself to 'stop being silly' or to 'get over it'.  Just like you can't tell yourself to stop yawning or sneezing - stress feelings are difficult to consciouly control.  By distracting and breaking the cycle using the techniques in the video and as detailed above, you can change your state though from stressed to feeling in control. In effect you are reassuring your subconsious mind and response system and letting them know they can relax.

Posted: Wednesday 18 August 2021