Don’t forget that one of the reasons you feel anxiety symptoms is because your brain thinks you are in danger all the time.
It thinks your life is a war zone because of how you think and react to the stress in your life. Is this the message you want to be sending to your brain??
Even if you feel out of control and scared, remain calm and cool and show your brain that you have it under control. and that you don’t need it to call for back-up and send out that extra adrenaline.
A simple trick?
Tell yourself that its okay to be freaking out, but that you are going to “pretend” to be calm so that your brain doesn’t catch on.
If something terrible happened to you while a child was with you, would you freak out and let the child see you so upset, or would you pretend to stay calm so they didn’t get upset too?
Use that same line of thinking with your brain.
I know what some of you are thinking: “If I could just snap my fingers and stay calm, then I wouldn’t be reading this post in the first place.”
I get it. That is exactly what I would have been thinking too.
For those of us with anxiety, the idea of remaining calm while feeling panicky on the inside can be a difficult concept to grasp. It seems to us as though the 2 are mutually exclusive which is one of the reasons why we have anxiety disorders in the first place. The truth is that you are in control of whether your fear controls YOU, or YOU control your fear.
Fear is something you feel. Staying calm is something you do. You may not be able to completely control what you feel fear over or the intensity of your fear. But you are in control of how you respond to that fear.
You can make sure you don’t start hyperventilating.
You can make sure you don’t clench your muscles up.
You can make sure to keep your thoughts slow and reasonable as opposed to “Oh my God!! What is happening??!!!”
You can choose an attitude of self-reliance and courage.
People remain calm in the face of REAL danger all the time. There is no reason why we can’t remain calm in the face of “perceived” danger.
There is a great myth flying around the anxiety world that having an anxiety disorder takes away our ability to calm ourselves down. This is NOT true. Don’t buy into it. The process may not come as naturally to us anymore, now that we have started to over-think the process and because of our level of stress and mental exhaustion, but it IS possible. Remembering that, and truly believing it, is the key to turning the “self soothing” process that you learned as a child, back into an easier, natural process again.
And while this process is cementing itself back into place and the new patterns are forming….try faking it.
I cannot tell you how many anxiety inducing situations and panic attacks I have faked my way through and out of over the years. They are few and far between nowadays, but when I know that I will have an extremely hard time getting myself through a situation without freaking out, it helps to pretend I am somebody who wouldn’t freak out. When I feel myself getting a little panicky…I pretend I am a confident person who would never get panicky.
Unless it involves flying, stove knobs, or door locks…this strategy usually works!
If I am out in public when the panic comes on, I usually keep this act going entirely in my own mind. But if I am at home when I feel panic coming on, I have fun with it and create these confident, over the top personas and play them out……my kids think its hilarious, and its just a way to have fun and keep my brain from finding out how scared I really am, while distracting myself enough to get out of my bad spiral. People with anxiety disorders make great actors because we are so sensitive, dramatic, empathetic and sympathetic – and we have these huge imaginations and creative abilities. So the next time you are in a situation that scares you, tap into that side of your personality and pretend you aren’t the kind of person who would be scared at all! I am going to write a more in depth post about this strategy sometime in the future, but in the meantime, try dabbling with it a bit and see if anything comes of it for you.
Remember that anxiety disorders involve a whole lot of “illusion” and smoke and mirrors from your subconscious. Sometimes the best thing to do is throw it right back at your subconscious and be the one putting on the show. 😉
Here is a link to a really great article I found that has some more specific ideas, that are a little more on the conventional side, on how to calm yourself when you are in a stressful situation!
Photo Credit: Woman With Sunglasses…Pixabay