Wednesday, 29 October 2014

5 Creative ways to overcome your Anxiety

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Wayne Dyer

According to research, Anxiety disorders affect more than 3 million of us in the UK alone.  That is apart from those individuals who suffer from some kind of mild anxiety who haven’t sought treatment or advice from a health professional.  Unfortunately, the numbers of those diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder are only set to rise.

Anxiety can take many guises- for some it is triggered by specific situations like driving, or it may be a more generalized feeling of Anxiousness or worry which in normal circumstances you could cope with. If you feel you might be suffering from an Anxiety Disorder read this guide online for more information:

GP’s are often at a loss at how to treat those with Anxiety aside from prescribing Anti depressant or Anti Anxiolytic drugs like Beta Blockers that are often just a short term ‘fix’.  CBT is then recommended as a way of managing the Anxiety symptoms better which in my experience, can be very effective.  For a slightly different approach, here’s 5 creative ways to overcome your Anxiety immediately:

1.    Change the Anxious self talk: Rick Carson, author of ‘Taming your Gremlin’ says we all have an inner ‘gremlin’ that talks us down and makes us feel negative about ourselves and the world.  He suggests tackling it first of all by just being aware of that voice and learning to be more detached from it.  I’d suggest adding a dose of humour in there too as the best way to diffuse fear is usually to laugh at what makes us scared.  What kind of voice would you rather have- a comedian you like? Your best friend who makes you laugh?  Changing the associations with that negative voice might well help.

2.    Add a happy soundtrack: Often our mind not only tells us what could go wrong in a never ending audio loop.  Often it is great at ramping up the fear with visual images of our fears too.  When this happens, try picturing the image of the fear on the cinema screen and try playing the image with a happy/funny soundtrack to again mix up the fearful associations with amusing ones.  See how you feel…If your fear is more generalized, ask yourself ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen?’ and you’ll probably get an image or thought come up to work on.

3.    Neutralise the fear: Another way of diffusing fear is to use Cognitive Diffusion techniques which allow the mind to start neutralizing the connections to the Anxiety.  For example, the words ‘Anxiety’ and ‘Fear’ are often loaded with well a lot of negativity unsurprisingly!  Try using a neutral word like ‘orange’ or ‘banana’ instead when you feel that way. It might well make you smile!

4.    Let go of the Anxious identity: Through my experience of working with hundreds of clients with Anxiety over the years is that they have a strong sense of identity connected to being anxious.  ‘I’m an anxious person’ they say, ‘I’m always anxious’.  Telling their mind they are anxious is pretty much saying, ‘this is me, I can’t get over it’.  Pretty limiting wouldn’t you say?!  Whereas anxiety, like any other emotion is just a state we are experiencing at the time- like anger, sadness or happiness and doesn’t define who we are.  Next time you get a thought like that come up challenge it and see what it feels like!

5.    Create a pattern interrupt.  In a way, all the above are techniques for interrupting the patterns of anxiety and fearful thinking. Another one I like to use with children and adults alike is using a positive anchor word that you can use whenever you feel anxious to ‘break the state’.  Think about either what makes you feel happy or calm? Could it be playing football on a Sunday, seeing your friends, reading in bed?  Whatever it is, allow yourself to be immersed in the memory of doing this thing and get into the positive state and think of an anchor word.  Practise using that word whenever you start to feel anxious and keep reconnecting your mind to that feeling.