Getting Rid of Anxiety
I’m going to be sharing with you some more tips around overcoming anxiety. I want to share with you some stuff that really works more as a long term plan for getting yourself out of an anxious state. The very first thing is that you need to start changing is your story and what I mean by that is how you explain yourself, describe yourself and how you like describe the stories that you tell, the experiences that you draw upon. If you think back on your day and pull out and share with other people bits of information about your day, that’s the story of you and your experience in the world. There’s a lot of different things that happen to you from one day to the next and as an anxious person it’s easy to kind of drill down and fine tune into the most anxious parts of your experience from one day to the next and because it is such a high emotional state it’s so intense it’s easy for those particular memories to stick and be the ones that come to mind immediately and easily.
The first thing that is really important is that you start to change the way that you recall and express and how you tell the story of who you are because when you start to change the way that you describe your experiences, your personality and the memories that you draw upon you start that process of reprogramming. You start teaching your brain how it is you would like it to think and who it is that you would like to become so that’s the very first thing start working on changing your story.
If you are thinking about a scenario in the future that you need to face and it fills you with dread change the way that you see yourself approaching that situation so it’s like you can have a little rehearsal scenario before the event has even happened. Instead of thinking about what could go horribly wrong, you think about what you’d like to see going well and how you would like to see yourself handling the difficulties that might show up there. The really helpful thing about this is it does help to program your brain to have different expectations of what the future is going to look like for you. It is a way for you to practice real life situations without doing it in real life and if you catch yourself still having a tendency to fall in and go down the river of ‘oh but this could happen’. What you need to be doing is correcting it when you notice yourself doing that and in all honesty that’s likely to happen especially in the early days of practicing this exercise because it’s kind of what you’ve got used to doing so it takes a little while to undo that habit.
It takes a bit of practice but the key thing is if you notice that you’ve thrown a curveball for yourself where things start to go disastrously wrong all over again. It’s a disaster that you then change it and you give yourself a different outcome to that and because it’s in your imagination you can go crazy like see anything happening, you know, like have your favourite superheroes swoop in and save you if you want or maybe become your own superhero and save yourself.
It tells your brain this is how I expect to behave and react going forward not those old ways because those old ways where you saw the future and got anxious about it that was also you training your brain on what to expect so in a way you trained your brain to expect things to go wrong and to expect to have an anxious response to it because that’s the way that you’d thought about it. This does take some effort because you need to have more awareness and control over what you’re doing in your thoughts then you might do ordinarily, you know, usually it might just be like ‘oh there’s a thought’ and you let it happen and it just goes in whatever direction it wants to go in that day but doing this process you need to be more like a director in a movie or even a film writer where you decide how things go towards the end of that story and you direct it to go in that direction even if you try and trip yourself up by throwing some curveballs into that scenario that you’re imagining
The third thing is to push yourself – here’s the thing having anxiety or I guess more so the process of getting rid of anxiety is a bit like ripping off a really sticky plaster. It’s time for that plaster to go, it served its purpose. It’s come to the end of its days but that thing is stuck tight and there is no way to remove it without it pulling off the little hairs on your knees that you didn’t even know were there and causing some degree of discomfort. Getting rid of anxiety can be a little bit like ripping off a plaster and the reason why I say that is because in order to get through it whatever that thing is that causes you to feel anxious there is a degree of needing to put your shoulders back, square up to it, look it in the eye and move forward. The more you hide away and bury yourself under a duvet and try and escape from it to get rid of those feelings of anxiety, the bigger it seems to get and it certainly doesn’t do you any favours.
In pushing it away, what you have to do is give yourself some exposure to the thing that makes you anxious now that doesn’t have to be a hundred percent full-on, for example, let’s say you’re really frightened of flying on an airplane. I’m not saying go get on an airplane but what you could do is build up to going on an aeroplane by pushing yourself to watch airplane take-offs and landings. If you’re watching those videos and you notice that you still feel uncomfortable about them then you could switch off the sound and just visually watch it or you could switch off the visuals and just listen to the sound and then from there you would build up to going to the airport and watching planes taking off on the runway or going into the airport and staying there and having a cup of coffee or something. You gradually start to give yourself the exposure to the thing that previously used to cause you to be anxious. This is a type of therapy in its own right so people actually use exposure therapy as a way to overcome things like fears and phobias but it works really well for anxiety too.
If you were anxious about going out with your friends at the weekend and you had a touch of social anxiety going on there, you know, maybe all of your mates are going to the cinema on a Saturday night and you’re getting really anxious about the idea of going with them. A couple of days before Saturday, take the bus to the Cinema (even though you’re not going to go into the cinema) but you can just kind of go through the process and scope it out so that you feel more comfortable and more familiar with the experience and attending some day with your friends.
By Gemma Bailey