Five Ways to Calm Your Anxious State of Mind
When I woke up this morning, I immediately thought, “I am anxious! You need a way for calming your anxious mind.” And wondered if I’d slept in that anxious state all night, but I didn’t remember any anxious dreams.
Regardless, knowing how damaging stress is to our body, and how unhelpful it is to our mental and emotional state, I was determined to do something about it fast.
Now, if you’ve read much of anything on this blog, you know how much I love Tapping. I often see EFT as a potential solution for just about anything.
But I also use other complementary methods. And over time, I’ve come to see Tapping as one valuable tool in a toolbox of eclectic methods.
I find that using a variety of tools gives me better results than relying on Tapping alone – more likely to be permanent and more wide-reaching. I recommend a variety of tools to my coaching clients and they get great results that way too.
Here are the five things I did this morning that released my anxiety quickly and got me on track to have a calm, energized and productive day.
1. Get Face to Face With Your Anxiety
My Mind Body Coach Lorraine Faehndrich calls anxiety a pseudo-emotion. She says it’s not an emotion, but a decoy, that we use to keep us from feeling the REAL emotions hiding under the anxiety.
It’s easy to perpetuate our anxiety by assuming it’s real fear and it’s there to protect us from some unknown danger. So instead of turning and facing the nasty little rascal, we just keep running, thinking if we turn and face it, we’ll be obliterated.
Having spent the last year learning A LOT about how to overcome, transform and rise above chronic anxiety, I turned and faced mine this morning.
You’re going to go broke.
You can’t do it!
You’ll never finish your Belief Change product!
You’re a fraud!
In case you haven’t figured it out, my anxiety speaks in the voice of a scared, nasty, totally pessimistic inner critic. (Gee – just realizing my mom was kinda like that too! What a coincidence
Your anxiety might have a similar voice.
Have you listened to her? Really listened?
I’ve found that when I let her have her say, and listen, she calms down. It I try to ignore her, like putting my fingers in my ears and humming loudly, well, she just keeps up her mean banter, terrorizing me all day long with her dooms-day thinking.
2. Problem Solving Mode
Staying in the “Oh No!” anxious state won’t solve anything. So now that you’ve listened to what your anxious voice is saying, think about what can be done about it.
This not-making-enough-money theme is a recurring one for me (and comes up regardless of how much is coming in – that’s why I know it’s a decoy!).
One day last week, I decided to move into problem solving mode by making a list of 20 ways I could increase my income. I had so much fun making the list that I forced myself to quit after I came up with 30 money-making ideas.
The next day, I created a new list of 20 things I could do to increase my income in the next 30 days.
After writing those two lists, I realized something.
There is NO SHORTAGE of ways to make more money. I may have a shortage of action or a shortage of courage, but there’s no shortage of ways to make money.
The list making showed me that abundance is mine for the asking. All I need to do is have the courage and take action. (My guess it’s the same for you. Think so?)
3. Tap On Your Fears
Even when you face your anxiety. Even when you do go into problem solving mode about whatever you’re anxious about, you’ll probably still have some doubts and fears.
That’s normal and healthy.
Fear is an absolutely essential survival instinct and you’d be dead already if you didn’t have it.
Fear is also a sign that you’re stretching. You’re stepping out of your safe little box. You’re allowing the possibility of more light shining on you. You’re risking the disapproval or criticism of others – always scary.
So before you start tapping, raise your right arm over your head. Bend your elbow so your hand is on your back. Pat 10 times, saying, “Way to go! You’re going for it! I’m so proud of you for stretching beyond your comfy little box!”
Then make a list of all the stuff you’re scared will happen or won’t happen.EFT Tapping Points
List all your doubts about your abilities, the economy, your parent’s criticism and the worst that could happen.
If your list isn’t at least a page long, you’re not really committed. Go for it. This will help. A LOT.
After you make your list, tap it.
Tap one point for each statement.
If you’re brand new to Tapping, you just use one or two fingertips and tap the points in the diagram while making your statement. Tap 5-10 times at each point, gently, like drumming on a table top.
Or go here to get the EFT manual and take a quick crash course in Tapping. The EFT Manual’s free.
(And if you’re inclined to take the next step and REALLY learn to Tap, check out my Make EFT Work Every Time product. It’s an excellent way to get a solid foundation for effective tapping, even if I am the author :).
Tapping will move the energy of fear and doubt and allow courage, resourcefulness, creativity, motivation, confidence, calm and healthy energy to take it’s place.
(I’ve actually created a generic list of doubts and fears that I can tap on any day, in case I don’t want to create a new one. I recommend you do that too. )
4. Consciously Calm Down
I recently heard that it takes 24-27 slow deep breaths to get you out of the fight or flight state and into the calm state of “Rest and Digest.”
When you’re stressed, your immune system and digestion shut down so all your energy can be diverted into running away or defending yourself.
As you can imagine, this stressed state isn’t too good for creative problem-solving, skillful living or for robust health and longevity.
Some ways to calm down:
1. Do a short, 5-minute meditation, following the sensation of your breath in your belly or your nose.
2. With your non-dominant hand, draw something for five minutes. Draw anything – even the lamp across the room. The goal is to break the anxious state and create a calm one, so the subject of your drawing isn’t important.
3. Make your breath slow and regular. You can count 1-2-3-4 as you inhale and 1-2-3-4 as you exhale. I use the very handy emWave gadget for this, and that’s what I hooked myself up to this morning when I awakened in that anxious state.
In a dream I had back in February, 2012, I heard “Biofeedback.” I had been praying for help in healing my adrenals, which I knew was closely related to overcoming my chronic anxiety. After researching my options for small biofeedback devices online, I chose the emWave by HeartMath.Click here to learn more about the emWave
4. Use HeartBreath (my name for a HeartMath technique). Imagine your breath coming in and out through your heart center, in the center of your chest. As you imagine that, recall or invent a peaceful, joyful or loving scene – or invoke a state of gratitude.
You might remember or imagine a scene with a baby, a beloved animal or a beautiful, tranquil scene in nature.
Or you can think of things you’re grateful for.
The scene I usually picture when using the HeartBreath technique is an imaginary one where I meet my father (who died when I was 12) and all my beloved former pets (TinkerToy, Tuffy, Shadow, Sadat, Nanook, Sophie).
I see a beautiful nature scene with a creek, woods, grassy, wildflower meadow and mountains in the distance. At first, I just met my dad there, but as I visit my special place again and again over time, the scene grows more full of beauty. Lately it’s been populated with angels!
When I breathe in an out through my heart center and imagine being in that scene, my breath and heart slow down, so the green light shows on the emWave.
I encourage you to create your own healing refuge and visit it to create a sense of calm peace, love, healing.
This morning, I counted 30 slow deep breaths as I watched the Emwave lights going up and down, guiding my breathing to be slower, deeper and more regular. I imagined my breath coming in and out of my heart center.
In about 5 minutes, my mind and body had gone from anxious to calm. It took around a half hour before I felt good – as the anxiety had sapped my energy.
You don’t need a biofeedback device to slow down your breath and heart. You can count slowly to 3 or 4 as you inhale and again to 3 or 4 as you exhale.
Keep your breathing regular, gradually slow it down, and do this for 25-30 breaths. That will get you out of Fight or Flight and back into the healthy Rest and Digest state of calm.
5. Take Action, Remain Calm
It’s important that you take action on resolving whatever made you anxious in the first place. If you’re anxious about the well-being of someone else, do something about it, even if it’s just sending an email.
If you’re anxious about money, take some action that helps you move in the direction of greater financial well-being. That may be to look for job openings online. Or it may be to complete your resume or follow up on a recent interview. It may be to take a carload of things you no longer need to the consignment store. It could be to make a flyer announcing a class you can teach.emWave showing green light – means I’m calm
Look at your situation to generate the most beneficial action.
And while you’re taking that action, consciously remain calm. When you move, move slowly, deliberately and gracefully.
Keep your thoughts, your emotions and your movements all calm. Anxious behavior will tend to make matters worse instead of helping.
Ask one part of your mind to remain focused on your breath – keeping it slow, deep and rhythmic. You can use your own body and awareness to retrain your heart and breath to be calm.
Without a reminder, I tend to naturally return to an unhealthy state of rapid, shallow breathing, rapid heart rate and stressed/anxious or excited thinking.
I enjoy working on my laptop with the Emwave hooked to my earlobe. With a small part of my mind, I listen for those rhythmic gong sounds the emWave emits, telling me I’m calm. (If it goes quiet, I know I’ve let my breath get shallow or quick and I consciously slow down my breath – an easy way to get it showing blue or green again, instead of red.)emWave ear attachment pulse detector
Whatever method you use, intend to remain calm as you go about your day. This will benefit you by sending more blood to the creative, resourceful parts of your brain.
It will help your body remain young and healthy – in the Rest and Digest state. And you’ll be training your body how to be active while remaining calm.
Here’s your question for the day:
What tips do you have for calming your anxious mind?