Don’t let anxiety put your life on hold!
Anxiety is that uncomfortable feeling that manifests in a feeling in your tummy, neck or head. For example Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), migraine headaches or muscle pain in the neck. Some people feel it in one or two places or even all three. It’s that awful feeling of dread that you get at the thought of doing the things that you want to do but are frightened of doing like public speaking, changing jobs or enrolling on a training course. You avoid the debilitating feelings of anxiety at all cost.
Anxiety prevents individuals from reaching their true potential and literally robs them of life experiences. Most avoidance strategies are out of date but have become so ingrained in daily life that they’ve become habitual routines. People become stuck in a thought process that gives them outcomes they don’t want. A migraine when they should be delivering a presentation Or an upset stomach just as you’re about to fly off on a dream holiday. Thought processes can keep people prisoner in the anxiety thats comes from FEAR of doing something and prevents you from living, doing & having the life you desire. Think of fear as False, Evidence, Appearing Real. Remember all the fear is coming from your thoughts. Thoughts are just that, thoughts. Even though the feelings they generate are absolutely real. The brain doesn’t differentiate between what is imagined and reality. It’s like watching a scary movie or a sad film, the generated emotion is real. Often people are scared of what might happen, could happen, nearly happened or something that happened once. People end up with phobias based on one-off events. The fear might be telling you “This can’t be!” or “I don’t make myself sick!” Anxiety is sneaky and has many ways of preventing you from changing and keeping your beliefs stuck. The great news is you don’t need to think this way. You can stop anxiety routing you to the spot. The brain learns fast and even though you might have been caught in a thought pattern for years you can change really quickly with the right type of help. You can form new healthier habits.
There are many things that you can do to combat anxiety. When I work with clients I teach them techniques that they can take away and use themselves. I’d like to share with you a simple to follow CBT technique that will help to give a different perspective to the issue causing anxiety and provide some insight of how you can alter things.
You’ll need a pen and paper to do this exercise.
Find somewhere to relax for 5-10 minutes where you wont be interrupted. Sit back and take three deep controlled breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Ensure you are breathing into your diaphragm. Then just relax and breath normally.
When answering the following Decatastrophizing questions to the worst case scenario, be really honest with yourself and use your imagination to fully explore the questions. Write the first thing that comes to your mind as this will no doubt be the most helpful and compelling. Don’t write what you think you should, that wont help you. Don’t over think this exercise just give it a go… It will only take about 5-10 minutes.
What’s the situation that you’re concerned about?
How anxious are you about the situation (0-100%)?
Note down how you feel about it now….
1. What’s the worst that you fear might happen in this situation? (Feared Catastrophe)
- What evidence is there that’s likely to happen? (Not just possible but probable.)
- Are there any flaws in that evidence? Could it be interpreted differently?
- What evidence is there that that’s likely to happen?
- Based on the evidence, how likely is that to happen (0-100%)
- So what if it did happen? How might you cope? What would happen next? What would happen in the long term?
- So how much harm would be done in the longterm?
- How awful would it be (0-100%)
2. Whats the best you might hope could happen?
- How likely is that to happen (0-100%)
3. Whats most likely to actually happen?
- How likely is that to happen (0-100%)?
- How could you best cope with the most likely scenario? What would happen next? What would happen in the longterm?
- So if it happened, how much harm would be done, in the long term (0-100%)?
- How awful would it be? (0-100%)?
Now re-rate how anxious you are about the situation (0-100%)