Sometimes the best way out of that spin cycle, is to get a little space from your thoughts.
To work with challenging feelings, we need to first understand how they show up in our bodies. Then we can bring attention out of our heads and into our bodies, where there is safety, security and trust. .
FIRST THINGS FIRST:
FOUNDATIONS OF THE PRACTICE
IDENTIFY THE SIGNALS FROM YOUR BODY
You cannot effectively manage what you are not aware of.
Being aware of how nervousness, worry and anxiety show up in your body is an important first step to being able to handle it when it comes up.
So, our work is to first listen to our bodies, and identify those early signs that worry is setting in, so we can effectively manage them when they do.
We're not used to paying attention internally like this. We're so accustomed to looking for outward signs that we're ok, or this is wrong, or I'm not doing it right.
But that's not where the answers are.... they are within.
So we check in regularly. We keep coming back over and over again. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Just get quiet and notice.
Do any of these sensations show up for you? What do they mean? What else can you add to the list? Write it down so the physical signals of stress and worry are so crystal clear that you would know the symptoms from anywhere.
* Clenching in the chest
* Tightening of the jaw
* Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
* Tired or lethargic
* Increased heart rate
* Rapid breathing
* Queasy or upset stomach
* Tension in the fists, arms and shoulders
* Sweating or feeling flushed
* Chills or shakes
* Generalized sense of dread or doom
These are the physical signs that your body needs your attention.
Pay attention early and often; act on what you hear.
The practice below will guide you to develop deep inner trust as you listen to your body and act on what you hear.
Remember, "An anxious mind cannot exist in a calm body."
Note: This is a strategy to utilize during moments of acute stress and worry. It does not, and cannot, replace formal therapy that might be needed for more challenging, and/or chronic anxiety or other mental health concerns.
5 - 4- 3 - 2 - 1 GROUNDING TECHNIQUE
A popular Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) technique; this one is an oldie but a goodie.
PS! If you swap the senses and name 5 things you can hear and 1 thing you can see etc... who cares? The point is not to do this exactly the 'right' way, the point is to bring your attention out of your anxious mind into your body. If listing 5 things you taste does that for you, then it's a win.
** PRO TIP!! Practice this with your children as a way to help them manage big thoughts, feelings and worries. Come back to this regularly in low stress times, so the practice is easily available to them when worry sets in.
Try it at bedtime - which can be a stressful time for small children (and wimpy adults like me when my husband is away, and there are random noises and/or raccoons in the house!).
Some other scenarios that might benefit from this include: test taking, sports or competitions, giving a presentation at work, flying in an airplane, caught in traffic and you're already late etc...
Hope this helps the next time you feel that familiar sense of worry or panic set in.
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