There are loads of people who suffer from stress and anxiety, especially in these uncertain times. Today, I want to tell you something about it.
Anxiety comes from a primitive part of your brain deep in the limbic system that seems to have a mind of its own. You can’t just say to it, “Today I not going to be anxious or stressed”. It’s not a question of will-power, because that primitive part of your brain won’t listen – It will stress you out anyway.
This primitive part of the brain is designed to protect you from sabre-toothed tigers when you are out hunting or gathering. It makes you on edge and gets your body ready to run the moment a sabre-toothed tiger appears.
So when something happens that makes you upset or angry or even just a bit down, this primitive part of the brain thinks, “Maybe there’s a sabre-toothed tiger around.” And it makes you anxious so that you’ll look out to see where the danger is, and it will get your body ready to run.
Sometimes, the primitive part of the brain gets a bit ahead of itself, and makes you anxious when there’s no reason to be. It can learn to get really good at getting you anxious when there’s nothing there.
The other thing that happens is that all the stresses in your life build up. It’s like you’ve got a bucket in your brain that all your stresses go into, and it’s filling up. Now, when you’re asleep, when you’re dreaming, your brain starts to sort through the bucket and empty it. The problem occurs when you’re filling it up faster than you can empty it.
So you’ve got two problems. One is that the brain has learnt to make you anxious when you don’t need to be, and the second is that you have a bucket full of stress that’s filling up too fast.
Okay … so what do you do about it?
My job is to help people with stress and anxiety in all its forms. I use hypnotherapy to help them learn new non-anxious patterns and also empty their bucket of stress faster than they can fill it up. But what can you do on your own?
Firstly, you can learn to be calm and have that sense of well-being: The key thing here is to practice being positive. You may only manage it for a few seconds to start with, but with regular practice you will build it up. Think about the positive things in your life. Interact with people in a positive way, and do something positive – even if it just doing the washing up. Take a few seconds to acknowledge that you have done something positive.
Gradually, over time, you will find that your brain gets used to being positive, and the anxiety diminishes.
Then you have that bucket full of stress that needs emptying. This is done quite naturally during sleep, so … don’t cut yourself short of sleep. You can empty even more of your bucket by doing things like meditation and mindfulness, or simply doing something that gets you totally absorbed – getting immersed in a good film, or a video game or a sport where you can just switch off and focus totally on something you really enjoy. When you do these things, your mind goes into a light trance and your brain can start sorting out that stress bucket in the background.
Hypnotherapy can speed things up a lot, but you can tackle it yourself. Whatever you choose to do … I wish you all the best.