Many of the people we see at the Madison Hypnosis Center suffer from anxiety and are looking for relief. Below are some ways known to help alleviate anxiety.
1. Body mapping– Body mapping is a way of gaining self-awareness and control over your body and mind through focused attention. It is a way to train your mind to be aware of the mental and physical connections in your body. There are many ways to accomplish this such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, and kinesthetic exercise. All of these allow you to gain an awareness over your body and reduce anxiety. Once you gain the awareness over you body, you are then able to better control how it responds. You can adjust your breathing or body language to be more calm and confident. You can relax the tension that often comes with anxiety and change the emotion. Which brings us to the next tool to combat anxiety:
2. Breath work- Controlling your breathing can be a great tool to alleviate anxiety. It is a great way to quickly and easily change your physiology. By physiology, I mean your blood pressure, heart rate, neural network activation, hormone response and more. There are many different breathing techniques. Two techniques that work particularly well are 4-7-8 breathing, and mimicking blowing out a candle with a full breath.
3. Exercise- Exercise is a great way to deal with anxiety. In the context of acute anxiety, a bout of intense exercise can relieve symptoms and change the freeze response to releasing the tension through a mimicked flight response. Again, the exercise also changes physiology in a way consistent with better emotional regulation. A regular habit of exercise also improves anxiety for the long term. Regular exercise relieves stress, allowing you to decompress regularly. It improves heart rate variability which has been found to be an indicator of stress and anxiety. And regular exercise changes the shape of function of the brain in ways more consistent with emotional regulation.
4. Being present – Attention and awareness are vital tools in the tool kit to combat anxiety. Anxiety is often a response to expectations of thing yet to come (which are often false or unrealistic expectations). By refocusing one’s attention on what is happening around them, it reduces the focus on potential future events. I often have my clients practice brining their attention to the moment of zero. When you focus on the moment of zero and you bring your train of thoughts to focus on what is immediately in front of you, the anxiety tends to disappear as you realize that you are completely safe, and that you as a person are ok, no matter what else is happening in your life.
5. Nature- Taking a break in nature is a great way to not only alleviate anxiety, but improve overall health as well. Recent research is showing what nature lovers have known all along; being in nature is good for our minds and our bodies. Several things happen when you take a break in nature. You become more focused on the present and the things around you. You vision changes from tunnel vision to periphery. The sounds and the colors change from typical environments. The air changes as well, and you tend to breathe more deeply, usually accompanied by light exercise like walking or hiking. Being in nature doesn’t have to involve a trip to the mountains or the ocean. It can be as simple as a back yard or a neighborhood park. Forest bathing is an old practice that has recently become popular in the United States. Try stepping away for a few moments of time in nature.
6. Reducing screen time- Screens are a part of modern life. Whether it is a computer or a phone, most westerners spend an incredible amount of time looking at a screen. This impacts attention and tunnel vision as described earlier, but it also creates a dopamine response cycle. In short, your phone and most aps on them are designed to keep you addicted to them by providing short bursts of reward. This activates the reward system in the brain which is the same circuitry responsible for anxiety. Taking a break from screens can break or reduce anxiety and the activation of those parts of the brain responsible for anxiety.
7. Hypnosis- Hypnosis is a wonderful tool for anxiety management. In a way it is an amalgam of many of the methods above, but it also has its own spin. Hypnosis is a state of focused attention during which you can change your internal dialogue and your internal representation of thoughts and feelings. With hypnosis you can change how you experience certain stimuli, and you can change your behavior to that stimuli to be in line with your intentions to feel confident and relaxed. Hypnosis is a way of gaining autonomy over your automatic responses. The Madison Hypnosis Center invites you to enjoy a free relaxation recording, or schedule an appointment with our professional hypnotists here: Book a Session