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7 Powerful Stress-Stopping Skills

By Dr. Nicole Cain ND, MA

 

If you’re ready to win the battle against anxiety, lack of self-confidence, sleepless nights, and turn the page in the pill-for-an-ill model, you’re in the right place. Our passion is to help you get your life back. You deserve freedom, you are worthy of living the life you were meant to, and you can make small changes that get you big results in a short amount of time. 

Today we’re going to talk about how to go deep without losing yourself in the process. You are going to learn 7 powerful skills for stopping anxiety BEFORE it takes center stage. 

So, without further ado, let’s get started.

The first thing I want to say is that above all else, you must trust your inner self. Since we were born, we have been trained to obey others, and in doing so, we so too often turn away from ourselves. Instead of being raised to listen to our intuition, trust our gut instincts, and honor our personal limits—even and especially when they are uncomfortable or inconvenient to others—we are told to walk in a straight line, be good “Victorian children” (seen and not heard), and to comply with the rules of the house, the city, the state, your country and even God.

When untethered, this kind of mentality can be dangerous, and even fatal, to the fire that you were given at conception. 

In the 17th to 19th centuries, the Age of Enlightenment, otherwise known as the Age of Reason or Renaissance humanism emerged. This movement carried with it the work of Rene Descartes, Isaac Newton, and other philosophic thinkers. 

Paving the way for political revolutions with a centrality on “sovereignty of reason,” liberty, and rejecting the former philosophies of absolute monarchy and dogmatism—this renaissance forever changed the fundamental expectations of human thought and in part, served as a springboard for modern day thinkers like Danielle Laporte, Elizabeth Gilbert and Glennon Doyle. 

We live in a world where we are encouraged to question everything, heal at all costs, and break down the iron curtain separating what was with what shall be. But the risk that follows is adaptation of a dogmatic pendulum that is swinging so far to one extreme, that we begin to adopt a toxic interpretation of “sapere aude” (suh-para-oday) which is Latin for “dare to know.” 

What I mean by this is that we go too deep, too fast, at the risk of crumbling beyond the point of repair. We burn our house down before our next is built. We stop going to church but fail to replace it with a new spiritual practice. We go down into a full-split without stretching first. 

While deconstruction always proceeds new creation, if we do not begin the process of building anew, once the old has gone, we will have nothing waiting for us.

Discouraged by what felt like a never-ending therapeutic process, and desperate for an answer claiming to have the solutions to the stalemate she had found herself in, Emily had put the thousand-dollar conference ticket, and airfare on her credit card, packed her bags, and flew South. 

Ignoring the red lights from her inner parts, she jumped down the metaphorical well. But wasn’t prepared for what she found. When her anxiety and racing heart told her to sit out certain sessions, she challenged herself with “extreme-participation.” When the knot in her stomach gripped, she shoved that aside and dug in deeper. 

She wanted to grow, after all. And how can you grow if you never step out of your comfort zone? She broke open her vulnerabilities and in the spirit of evolution and ascension, she blasted through her well-constructed protective barriers and turned her skin inside out. She broke down walls, rejected old protective mechanisms that she felt were holding her back, and detonated the rocky foundation that had been propping up her life for the last 30 years. She was determined to start anew, and following her well-intended guide, she slid deeper and deeper and deeper. 

And then she lost herself.

A week later, she was back in the United State, alone in her apartment, riddled with wave after wave of debilitating panic. Her body was jerking uncontrollably, she hadn’t slept in days and visions of trauma after childhood trauma flashed before her eyes. Her head was filled with excruciating pain and the ringing in her ears was deafening. It wouldn’t stop and she was scared. She was afraid of what she would do if it didn’t end and she didn’t know where to turn. She was confused, she felt betrayed, and she felt completely and utterly alone. Her inner parts were screaming at her. Some of their voices were enraged, while others wept uncontrollably. 

Sometimes, my love, more is not better. 

Your walls are there for a reason. Honor them.

Your barriers are there to protect you. Thank them. 

Your inner voice is trying to speak to you. Listen carefully. 

 

Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light

The first step in the ACT Model is Acknowledgement. Acknowledgement is about turning towards what is happening right now, and accepting it for what it is. Acknowledgement is being in the emotions big or small, and not trying to change them. Acknowledgement is about mindfully attending with radical mercy and acceptance to the story of your human experience. 

During one of these sessions I was asked “What if I go deep and I can’t come back? I’m afraid of what will happen and that I won’t be able to come out.” 

I thought about this for a long time and realized that this beautiful soul was speaking with incredible wisdom. She was talking about the red light. 

She was telling me, “if my body is giving me a red light, how do I proceed forward? What do I do?”

My answer is this: STOP. 

Always honor your stoplight.

While going deep is a necessary part of growing and healing, just like a flower cannot survive with only sunshine and no water, you cannot flourish without care and respect of all of the ego states that have carried you to where you are today.

Just as your right hand mirrors your left, daring to know must be mirrored by your inner protective parts. 

If your Wise Self is giving you a red light or a yellow light, this means that we need to turn back towards our Forcefield Strategies. These are protective parts that we choose to elicit. We can call them into action when we need them, and they can buoy us during the transformation process. In EMDR this is referred to as Resourcing. 

Forcefield Strategies are those things in life that serve to protect us and keep us safe. Forcefield strategies must always be considered with a stoplight in mind. 

A stoplight is comprised of three colors: Red, yellow, and green. 

  • Red means to STOP. Under no circumstances should you ignore your Wise Mind’s red light. Our bodies have different ways of giving us red lights. For Emily it was anxiety, her racing heart, and the knot in her stomach. These were signs from her inner protective parts that something was not safe or not right. What does your red light look like? What does it feel like when you have gone too far? What are your indicators that you need to hit the brakes and reassess?
  • Yellow light means to SLOW DOWN. Often yellow lights present themselves in the form of intuition, a knowing, your gut instinct. When my yellow light gets activated, I feel dread, constriction in my throat and I clench my jaw. If I ignore this, my protective parts will get louder and push into red, if I honor this, step back and listen, I can often make a decision that better honors what all of my parts need. 
  • Green light means to proceed! This is where we want to be when we are breaking down our stories, constructing colosseums, and examining our lives. Green lights are cultivated by honoring our protective parts, engaging in self-care activities, resourcing, and doing frequent check-ins. Green lights are eager, growing, honoring, protective, and directive. 

 

How Deep Shall I Go?

When reading the works of your favorite, inspirational authors, and when your soul is burning to turn the page, it is important to be intentional on how deep you should go. Let’s talk about how to proceed forward with profound healing:

THE PRIMER: Meta awareness

Meta awareness or metacognition is a term that came from the work of developmental psychologist, John Flavell. Flavell coined the term “metacognition” in order to describe a phenomenon where a person thinks about thinking. 

This is where we have a thought, and we explore, or acknowledge and explore what that thought is, why it is happening, how it is happening and what it means for you. 

Meta awareness is noticing the content of your experience. It is going deep in the moment. 

Meta awareness is the opposite of mindlessness. 

In order to go deep, in order to ascend in the sovereignty of reason and construct a new way of being, you must first practice meta awareness.

In order to do this, ask yourself questions like: 

What am I thinking right now?

What do I think about what I am thinking right now?

How am I feeling about what I am thinking?

What am I experiencing in my body as this thought comes up?

What is beneath this? 

What is the narrative of my story?

Why is this emotion here?

THE PROCESS: Resourcing: The goal is to build your brain’s gray matter so that you are more able to manage your emotions when they express themselves. This will help you be ready; this will give your brain a reservoir of resilience

  1. Sun-beaming: Hypnotic Breathing exercise- imagine sun ray coming onto your head. It cleanses, purifies, it is from pure nature. Notice warmth on forehead, third eye, warmth on top of head. Notice a small amount of heat and allow yourself to gently mindfully amplify that physical sensation of warmth. In your mind’s eye, imagine absorbing the heat and purifying energy. Embody the feeling of nurturing. Allow a sense of openness in head and shoulders.
  2. Clockwise Counterclockwise: Bring up a mildly disturbing memory and concentrate on physical sensations that emerge. There are no right or wrong answers, just drop in and notice. When you think of that memory, rate on scale from 0 to 10, where 0 not at all disturbing and 10 is the worst intensity, how emotionally disturbing is the memory or event to you now? Notice how intense it feels, not how logically bothersome it is. Notice where it is located in the body, imagine it is energy going in a spiral, clockwise or counterclockwise.Ask yourself which direction that feeling or energy is going. Then I want you to mindfully imagine changing the direction of that spiral. Just notice what happens when you do. If this is helpful for you, rehearse it with different levels of disturbance and practice bringing the disturbing intensity down by redirecting the sensation.
  3. Befriending the body: For each meditation pick one part of your body to befriend. For example, start with your hand. Notice anything and everything you can appreciate. Moments the hand has served you and helped you. Acknowledge what the hand has done. Think of memories when the hand has assisted you in life. Express gratitude for that part of your body. Spend 5 minutes each day with a different part of your body.
  4. Making a mandala: A Mandala represents the inner connection of all things. You can buy a coloring book, craft supplies, or even create one in your yard with sticks and rocks. Color section by section, or draw section by section in a clockwise circular pattern. Build around the mandala for 20 minutes at a time and imagine the seasons. IN life we always have seasons. While every fall is similar to the fall of your past it is never the exact weather pattern. Notice how everything changes but yet it is all connected. The spring rain waters the flowers that will bloom in summer.
  5. Becoming your own parent: There is a part of you that is wiser than you. This is the Knowing or the Wise Self. This is the parent of yourself. All of our parents, no matter their intentions, will always fail us because they only know life from their own perspective. Your earthly parents cannot be your parent your entire life. At some point, you go on your own. In a meditation, call upon your older wiser self, drop into your body, your knowing. Meditate on a question you would like to ask your Wise Self. Wait as you meditate, drop into your body and out of your thoughts and just notice what your gut says to you.
  6. Creative input: Our mind is full of thoughts, belief systems, and ideologies and beneath the surface often times those belief systems are giving us false input. Do you have any parts that you feel are speaking words that are not life giving to you? Where did those parts get those messages and what is going into your brain to reinforce those messages. Most people spend more than 2 hours each day consuming social media, the news, or television that is someone curating what is going into your brain. Spend 20 minutes each day, intentionally identifying a positive source of input like poetry (like Rumi), a book, or a podcast. Change what is going into your brain will change what comes out.
  7. Breathing shift: Bring up a good, happy, or positive memory. Then notice where the breath is starting and place your hand over that area (are you breathing from your chest or your stomach or another place in your body), breathe a moment or two and notice how it feels. Next, bring up a different memory, this one with a low level of disturbance, and notice how your breath changes. Put your hand over that location of your body. Now change your hand to the previous location and deliberately change your breathing pattern accordingly. Notice the disturbance dissipate.

 

Bonus Tools

  • Practice using a protective box
  • Practice using Somatographic Imagery. Watch the Masterclass walking your through this exercise.
  • Bits and pieces: Limit how much you take on, and for how long, always set an endcap to your work so that it is manageable and structured. This will give you a sense of safety and empowerment in doing deep work. Imagine everything you feel is in a box. Instead of opening the box and dumping it all out, select one item from the box. Start with something small and work on one aspect of, or one element of that thing and then mindfully put it back in the box.  

These skills have been shown in clinical research to BE EFFECTIVE but you have to show up for yourself day after day and don’t give up. 

Me and my team will be here for you every single step of the way. Remember, you are never alone, and there is always hope.

Take a few minutes for yourself to explore natural ways that have powerfully moved thousands of my patients away from anxiety and helped them get their lives back. You deserve this! Grab a cup of tea and read through the Anxiety Breakthrough Wellness Springboard.

When we support the body, the journey to getting our lives back becomes smoother and easier to manage. Make sure you have the right support by downloading the FREE Anxiety Breakthrough Wellness Springboard.

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This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Whenever considering changing your protocol whether it includes a change of medications, supplements, diet or lifestyle, always speak with your primary care physician first. Dr. Nicole Cain consults with clients locally and internationally. Dr. Nicole Cain ND MA has helped countless people take back control of their lives, and she can help you. To set up a complimentary consultation, call our office or visit https://drnicolecain.com/getting-started to schedule online.
Dr. Nicole Cain is an advocate for empowering people around the world to help themselves via her educational video e-courses, books, and exclusive free Facebook group. You can receive the tools you need to find the root cause of your symptoms and feel healthy again.

Quick Fix For Anxiety

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