Oh, boy...Here it comes again...
Cheeks are getting hot.
Heart is pounding.
Palms begin to sweat.
Sense of doom.
You feel it way more often than you want to admit.
You’re not alone.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million Americans over the age of 18 (almost 20% of the US population) suffer from anxiety.
We all experience anxiety from time to time. I hear from clients, friends and associates all the time how they overwhelmed by the level of “stress” in their lives and how they feel on edge no matter where they go... even in line at the grocery store.
For some it can become crippling and escalate to full blown panic attacks. For others it’s just this gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach. Either way, it’s exhausting.
It’s something I totally understand, because for almost 3 years I struggled with anxiety. Constant ruminating thoughts. Always focusing on the worst case scenario. Trying to “figure out” things in my head. Laying in bed at night thinking, thinking, thinking…my brain pounding and jaw clenched - never getting to an answer that seemed to make it better.
THANK GOD I discovered hypnotherapy because it completely stopped my anxiety, but it wasn’t the first thing I tried.
I started by seeing a therapist who gave me an awesome tool that helped me STOP my anxious thinking when it was running out of control.. Now I am passing it on to you. You’re welcome ;)
That’s what I talk about in this very short video. Give it your attention for a couple of minutes:
4 Simple Steps that take less than 30 seconds...
So how do you stop anxiety in its tracks exactly?
You might think it requires some long, complicated process. Nope. Just 4 simple steps!
Let me explain...
This process is really easy to remember because the letters are “S. T. O. P.”
Here’s how it works:
S = Stop what you’re doing.
Immediately. Whatever it is you’re doing. If you’re rushing the kids out the door to school, writing an email, searching for your damn keys that you can’t seem to find AGAIN...STOP.
When you stop you interrupt the pattern and it gives your brain a quick jolt so it quits running on autopilot. Kind of like pressing the escape key when your computer is on the fritz. Physically take a moment and then move to the next step in the process.
T = Take a breath.
After you’ve physically stopped and you’re taking a little time out for yourself to gather your thoughts, I want you to breathe. Take a big, sloooow, breath in from your lower belly (not your chest).
Part of our physical reaction to anxiety is that we stop breathing. Similar to step one, your breath lets you reconnect with your body. That brings you out of your head and in to the present moment. From here, you can move to the next step.
O = Observe your environment and your thoughts.
Imagine you’ve just turned your life in to a movie and you’re watching from the outside. What is it that’s triggering you and why do you think that is? Is there any real threat? Is this really as scary or life-altering as it seems?
Once you step back and observe yourself from the outside, it’s a whole lot easier to calm yourself. You are no longer a victim to the moment, you are back in the driver's seat. That brings us to the last step in the S.T.O.P. process.
P = Proceed by making a choice in how to move forward in your day.
Once you’ve stopped, taken a deep breath and observed what’s actually happening, you will find yourself in a calmer space. Now you can activate your power of choice.
From this place, you can choose what you want to happen next, what you want to feel now and how you want to proceed. You can calmly look for the keys, gently encourage your kids to get in the car or walk away from the email for a while.
Walk yourself through these 4 steps anytime you need to day or night, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Practice it regularly to train your brain to respond differently in these moments and watch as it takes you less and less time to calm down and recenter.
Now I want to hear from you. What are some of your favorite tips for stopping anxiety in it’s tracks? Comment below!
And, if you like this type of content, you can find a lot more of it in my new YouTube channel. Click here to subscribe!