Are you ready to beat anxiety and take back the control from your brain which has been operating off of an anxious program? You can do this by dealing with your thoughts, feelings and physical responses. With consistency, you can reprogram your brain, you can write a new story and beat anxiety.
Here are three steps to get you started:
Physical responses: Anxiety lives in a brain stem that has gotten stuck in a repetitive groove of fight, flight or freeze. We have to interrupt this groove and put in a new narrative. The brain stem does not respond to logic or emotional reasoning, so that’s why I developed the 4-S Model for Being in the Body.
I talk about the 4-S Model in quite a bit of detail in my ACT Method Anxiety Freedom Course and I want to share it with you:
Start the 4-S Model:
- Scene: Wherever you are, change it up. Change the scene. This may mean immediately getting up and going to the bathroom, taking a walk outside, or if you have the option to change the scene where your anxiety typically takes place, like the office, by changing art on the walls or using a diffuser.
- Scent: Scents can bring back memories in a flash, distract the brain from a repetitive group, and some in and of themselves are actually therapeutically beneficial.
- Sip: The brain stem loooooves tastes, textures. Chew on ice, gum or lick a lollipop.
- Stimuli: Stimulate your body in a way that is LOUDER than the anxiety itself is. This may involve something as basic as noticing the feel of your feet in your shoes, to something more extreme like sticking your face in a bowl of ice water.
Thoughts (Approaching them in a new way!)
You are not your thoughts. Thoughts are normal and when we are anxious we tend to have a lot more thoughts that seem chaotic, out of control, repetitive and focused on the worst-case-scenario. With these thoughts, simply notice them as material from an overactive anxious brain and then check, value and provide counter suggestions. I can teach you so much more about this but a simple way to get started is to write all your anxious thoughts down on the left hand side of a piece of paper, and then draw a vertical line and on the other side of the line write down alternative possibilities, counter suggestions, and a different way of looking at each thing. If you’re struggling with the right-hand column, solicit the help from a trusted friend or helper to help you with this process to beat anxiety.
Feelings (Let them flow through you!)
Just like you are not your thoughts, you are not your feelings. Your feelings are attempting to provide you data which can be very useful but when you are in an anxious cycle feelings can feel like tidal waves. One of the key points of emotional regulation is to notice that no feeling is permanent—even though sometimes panic and anxiety can feel permanent. The best thing to do when emotions become extreme is to notice the waves of emotion. Notice where they start in the body, the thoughts that come with the wave as it begins, and then notice how it peaks, and notice how it flows out of you. The more you try to control the feelings, the stickier the feelings will get. So learning to give up on your control of your feelings is to find a way to let the feelings come, pass through you.
A Shorter Summary of what I wrote above:
Step 1: When your anxiety starts to get the best of you, get in your body with the 4-S Model.
Step 2: Remember you are not your thoughts; your thoughts are simply data from an overactive brain that has been wired for anxiety. Working with the thoughts and retraining them will help you rewire your brain and write the story that you’ve been longing for.
Step 3: Do not resist your emotions, in fact, holding space for them not only reduces their stickiness and power, but it also provides your nervous system an outlet for releasing instead of suppressing.
I have so much more to share with you. If this has been at all helpful for you may be interested in checking out my free Anxiety Freedom 1-Week challenge. Let’s test drive what life feels like without anxiety in the driver’s seat.
Here’s to your next chapter,
Dr. Nicole Cain, ND, MA
Dr. Nicole Cain is an advocate for empowering people around the world to help themselves via her educational free resources, online courses, and membership group. You can receive the tools you need to find the root cause of your symptoms and feel healthy again.