DEALING WITH ANXIETY

Dealing with chronic anxiety means that major life changes are needed. Stimulants don’t help your wound up nervous system. So, stop all caffeine and tobacco, and reduce sweets and alcohol. Eat a varied, well-balanced diet including lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Daily relaxation, exercise, and fun are all essential.

The daily practice of yoga, which includes breathing techniques, postures, and techniques for deep relaxation can be helpful. “Panic is a habituated response to anxiety, which you can break either by reducing external stress or muscular tension in your body. Yoga does both.” Regular practise of breathing techniques will usually bring about improvement within a month, but to make deeper changes you will need to make wide-ranging changes to your life-style, building in activities that replace a negative, fearful mindset with a positive attitude.

Creating a life-affirming social or spiritual connection is also vital. “It’s important for those with axniety to know they’re not isolated individuals struggling alone, but to know they’re part of the whole pattern of life. We all need a sense of oneness.”

Remember, none of these techniques work like magic. You really have to work at changing your negative frame of mind – often literally reprogramming it with positive thoughts to replace your fears and anxieties. Remember to build on each success, no matter how small it might seem at first. Don’t get put off by set-backs. Your goals need to be realistic.

Immediate self-help

? Bach flower remedies. Rescue remedy can be taken at the first sign of panic. Just put 1 or 2 drops on your tongue.

Breathing Techniques

? Abdominal Breathing. Being aware of the movement of your abdomen is very helpful. Rest your hand between your lower ribs and belly button, and be aware of the way your hand moves. If you feel panicky from the pressure of your hand, just be aware of your breath. Counting it will help you focus your attention.

? Getting rid of negative thoughts. As you breath out, imagine you are dispelling all your panicky feelings and anxious thoughts in a black cloud. As you breath in, imagine you are breathing in a cleansing white light.

? Standing with your shoulders still, take a slow, deep breath. As you inhale, imagine that you’re drawing the air in through the tips of your fingers, up your arms and into your chest. As you breathe out, imagine you are exhaling down through your trunks, down your legs and out through your toes. As well as slowing down your breathing, this extends the out breath. Relaxation

? It’s important to take time out very day to relax. Even a daily walk in your local park will help. Try yoga, meditation, or anything that appeals to you.

? Regular massage will help ease muscle tension. You can add up to 5 drops of a calming essential oil to a massage oil base. Try lavender, neroli for acute anxiety, or ylang ylang for palpitations. ? Aromatherapy oils such as Lavender, marjoram, cedar wood, rose, frankincense, neroli, true Melissa, ylang ylang can be sniffed straight from the bottle. You can add a few drops to a bath. Or put a few drops in a little water over a candle burner to scent the room. Reprogramming negative thoughts.

? Stop technique. Negative thoughts become habitual and self-fulfilling. Notice when they come up, stop them, and replace them with more appropriate or realistic thoughts.

? Self-affirmations. Instead of thinking ‘I’m going to die’ or ‘I’m going to have a heart attack’ reassure yourself. ‘I know these feelings will pass. They’re just physical sensations – there’s nothing wrong with my body. I’ve survived before and I will get through this too.’

? Visualise yourself reacting differently. If you tend to have panics in a lift, visualise yourself calmly getting into a lift and travelling between floors in a serene state. Visualise yourself leaving the lift feeling relaxed and happy.

? You can use self-hypnosis to reprogram your behaviour. In a very relaxed state repeatedly read out to yourself auto-suggestions that ‘I will feel calm and constant’ in a situation that would normally trigger a panic response.

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