Procrastination8 November 2018
Overcome Fear and Anxiety – Part Two11 December 2018
Anxiety and Fear – You Can Overcome Them – Part One
Once there was a man, walking alone at night, when he saw a group of people approaching in the distance. Instantly, his imagination began to play tricks on him: “They are surely robbers!” he thought. “No, not just robbers? Murderers, cutthroats! About to set upon me, a lonely traveller, leave me for dead and steal all my possessions! How are my wife and children going to cope without me?”
His heart began to pound. His mouth became as dry as his palms were wet. He was shaking from head to toe and breathing as though he’d just run up a flight of stairs.
Having thoroughly terrified himself, he stumbled into a nearby graveyard and cowered shaking inside an open tomb, awaiting his fate. Meanwhile, the harmless strangers, worried by his dramatic behaviour, approached him and looked with concern down into the tomb. “What, pray, are you doing down there?” they asked.
Calming down quickly, said: “Well, put it this way: I am here because of you and you are here because of me!”
How we misuse our imagination
Imagination is a tool to be used, but how many of us misuse it to torment ourselves, just like the hero in the story? Imagination and emotionality are closely linked and the things we imagine can feel very real to us, even when they’re not.
“To fear is one thing, to let fear grab you by the tail, and swing you around is another.”
If you find yourself becoming overly anxious, there is something you can do to change that. Here are some useful tips to help you calm down and start to regain control.
Breathing is the short circuit for anxiety
I know I know, you hear a lot about ‘deep breathing’ to help you relax and reduce anxiety, but there really is something in it.
Fast, shallow breathing is often the first trigger that catapults all those other anxious symptoms into action. So by learning to control your breathing, you can control other anxiety symptoms as well.
If you purposely breathe out longer than you breathe in, your body has to calm down, regardless of what tricks your imagination is playing on you. When you breathe at slowly, you’re activating the parasympathetic nervous system response, which is the relax mode. Your body knows how to do this.
So if you start to feel anxious or fearful, here’s what you do:
- Focus on your breath
- Take a breath in (to the quick count of 7 in your mind)
- Then slowly breathe out (to the quick count of 11 in your mind)
- If you do this for a minute or so, you’ll be amazed how quickly you’ve calmed down. We call this ‘7/11 breathing’ but the numbers are up to you, just as long as the out-breath is longer than the in-breath.
“That’s all very well!” I hear you say. “But when I get anxious I forget everything and all good advice goes out the window!” Good point. This brings us to…
Part Two … look out for the next post