4 Step Process To Changing Your Brain And Transforming Your Anxiety

By Dr. Nicole Cain ND, MA

Are you ready to break free from anxiety, depression, and trauma? Today we are going to talk about the first steps towards getting your life back. I will introduce you to the A.C.T. Method and teach you three powerful tools to start you on the journey of true, transformation to break free from anxiety.

Stick around, because at the end I’d like to share with you some of the cool stuff we’re up to, and give with you an exclusive invitation to something pretty awesome.

When you look at your life, what story have you been writing? Has it been calm and steady? Or is a drama with plot twists, antagonists and an unsung hero?

What moments stick out to you as particularly profound?

When you think about your story, was there ever a moment when everything changed? Perhaps you are in that moment now?

Alexander Shia; theologian, spiritual director, and psychologist tells about his experiences taking people on an epic journey along a vast mountain hike called: El Camino. El Camino spans a 500-mile journey that takes the traveler through trees, providences, mountains, existential transformation, destruction, new birth, and so much more. He shares how there are many books, blogs, and resources on how to prepare for this life-altering journey, and again, even more resources on how to be on El Camino itself. But there is very little information about what to do after you return.

Did you know that the way you exist amidst turmoil will directly impact how your brain will respond to that event years later?

So what do you do amidst an ongoing struggle?

And what do you do after everything has changed?

In this podcast, we will explore life as it is during and after profound awakening: Awakening to your story, awakening to your anxiety, awakening to your grief, and equally important:

Awakening to your NEXT ACT.

As an integrative physician, with over a decade working with clients from around the world, my mission is to help you get your life back.

What would that look like for you?

I am going to share strategies that I have used for years in helping people transform. With respect to the latest in alternative and complementary research and with the wisdom of vitalistic and traditional medicine, we will explore the terrain of the human psyche as it relates to the complex inter-weavings that make up anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and trauma.

You will learn tools for deconstructing your own personal camino, or getting to the root cause of why you feel the way you feel. And what to do about it.

I am going to teach you how to design your life and we will explore techniques for the cultivation of emotional agility.

Emotional agility is all about how we navigate our world including our thoughts, choices, perspectives, and behaviors. Those who are more emotionally agile are able to embrace change, get unstuck and tell a self-story of life and resiliency as opposed to fear, shame, and self-doubt.

Let me share with you a story: We’ll call her Mary.

Mary’s camino took her through the tumultuous terrain embodied growing up in a household with an alcoholic father and an emotionally traumatized mother.

Survival was contingent upon the ability to be fearful and hypervigilant. Anxiety warned Mary when it was time to hide, and anxiety helped her be ready for the next plot twist. Her hypervigilance carried her through hills and forest, and finally, she arrived in the desert 23 years later, and this is where we began our work together.

Mary had left home and was beginning a new chapter. But her anxiety was suffocating. She spent her days locked in her closet with debilitating panic. The hypervigilance that had fueled her survival, was now destroying her life. The anxiety that had protected her from the unpredictable mood swings of her parents was now crushing her desire to live.

She was exceptionally good at one thing: and that was her ability to watch for potential threats. But she had no emotional agility. Her emotions were stuck in a record groove of fight, flight, and freeze. She was unable to pivot her plotline and throw a stick in the bicycle spoke. While Mary was a master dribbler; she couldn’t pass the ball, make a free throw, or change directions.

Mary’s camino had brought her to my office and she was desperate to get her life back. Her relationships were failing, she couldn’t maintain a job, and her health was slipping. She was afraid she’d never get better. She was afraid she wouldn’t be able to get married. Or pursue a career where she could contribute what she felt she was put on this earth to contribute. Mary had dreams that fueled her conviction to persevere. She wanted to build her own life, to travel the world, and to build something for herself that she was proud of.

And she did all of this. Mary’s tenacity had helped her survive her childhood, and it was the engine that drove her into her next ACT.

In this podcast I am going to share with you exactly what we did to help Mary get her life back.

4 Steps To Break Free From Anxiety

For today, I’d like to introduce you to a 4 Step Process to break free from anxiety that will begin the process of changing your brain and transforming your anxiety.

Step 1: We have to directly respond to the anxiety. Avoiding it and suppressing it will cause a build-up of anxiety that will make you feel worse. You need to speak directly to the anxious mind, say:

My body is a little revved right now.

This is no big deal.

I am okay.

The human body was designed to experience anxiety, I do not need to worry about the feelings of anxiety.

Anxiety and panic CAN NOT hurt me.

They are characters in my life story that mean well – but are overbearing in their need to protect me.

My brain has been wired to produce anxiety and I am working on changing that.

This feeling WILL pass.

My body hit the gas pedal a little bit too strongly just now.

I just need to wait for the pedal to come back up.

I am not my anxious thoughts.

Anxious thoughts are just an anxious brain’s attempt to create rigidity from feeling chaos.

Anxiety – I got your message.

Thank you – You delivered your lines well. Now head backstage. I got this. Save your energy for the drama scenes when I’ll need your high-intensity performance.

Step 2: Change up the scene: If you’re inside, go outside, if you’re outside, go inside. If you’re sitting still, move your body, if you’re in a meeting, take a bathroom break. When the needle is starting to top into the panicky groove, we gotta get its attention by working with the body. The first step is to get away from the scene that is triggering you.

Step 3: Your left nostril has the power to stop panic: Who knew right? But if you’re noticing anxiety kicking up, breathing exclusively through the left nostril has shown to reduce a person’s body’s fight, flight, and freeze response in clinical trials. To supercharge your nostril’s anxiety crushing power try 4-count left nostril breathing: Inhale through the left nostril for 4 counts, hold at the top for 4 counts, then exhale through the left nostril for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts and repeat.

Step 4: Work with your body – I talk about the 4-S Model in quite a bit of detail in the A.C.T. Method and I want to share it with you:

  • 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.

That’s the 4-step quick fix for when Anxiety tries to steal the show. Now you know the process to break free from anxiety and get your life back.

If after giving this a listen and you think this podcast would help someone you love – please share it with them.

Stay in the conversation with me about writing the next chapter of your life the way you want it.

I’ll see you next time, here’s to your next chapter.

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.