Dissolving Anxiety – long
This is a long version of the dissolving anxiety exercise. It will guide you through a series of small attention tasks to release a cramping feeling in your body linked to an anxious thought. It is gentle and soft like guided meditation but is backed up by EEG neuro-feedback research conducted by Dr Lester Fehmi, neuroscientist and psychologist from Princeton, US.
You can watch a short presentation explaining the idea behind the exercise first.
For what types of life problems it can be used?
The exercise targets feelings not thoughts, which means that regardless of what you are anxious about, it still works. In other words, the same 20 minute exercise can be used in all life situations and the story is not important here. The exercise makes you feel differently about problems so they become a lot more approachable.
How does it work?
The exercise disconnects a worrying thought and the cramping feeling attached to it. After the exercise you will be able to think about something which used to make you feel worried without actually feeling worried.
It will give you a chance to rest as there will be no feeling to remind you that something is wrong. Many people slowly come to the realisation that they have forgotten how it was to be worried.
What do I need to do the exercise?
You need 20 uninterrupted minutes in quiet environment. The best position is sitting on a chair with hands on your knees facing one of the walls in the room.
What exactly happens during the exercise?
The exercise has two stages.
Firstly you are asked to find the cramping feeling in your body and the thought triggering this feeling. Then you are led through the series of very simple instructions which disconnect the bond between this thought and the feeling.
How do I place where the cramping feeling is in my body?
It is good to realise that the feeling of anxiety is just another physical sensation like having a full bladder or empty stomach and similarly triggers various behaviours in order to release it. A full bladder makes you look for the toilet, an empty stomach makes you search for food and anxiety makes you overeat or eat too little, drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes.
The easiest way to find the cramping feeling of anxiety is to close your eyes, feel both hands at the same time for a moment and then think the worrying thought. The feeling will appear somewhere in your body, and it might be as gentle as warmness or tingling on the surface of your skin. It can also be a lot stronger, like a tightness or a dull ache deep inside your body.
How can I identify the worrying thought which triggers the cramping feeling?
Most people know what they are worrying about, but for some it is not so clear. They feel the cramping feeling which tells them that they are anxious but they cannot easily specify what they are anxious about. They often say that anxiety is their default state, and they feel as they were about to sit an important exam for 24/7.
The easiest way to find the thought or thoughts which trigger the feeling is to close your eyes, feel both hands at the same time for a moment and then feel the cramping feeling, being aware what is in your mind. The first thought which appears in your mind is the strongest link to the feeling.
Can I do the exercise on the train?
At the beginning you need to find a quiet place without distractions, so maybe the train is not a very good idea, but with time you will become more and more fluent in dissolving your unwanted feelings. You will be able to do it in any environment and even without listening to the recording. It feels like having a new skill of being independent in dealing with anxiety. It gives this wonderful feeling of being in control.
Will it stop me worrying forever?
No, the exercise helps you to stop feeling worried about a particular thing. When you find yourself feeling anxious about something new, you will have to do the exercise again for this new problem. The good news is that once you find the exercise works for you, it will always work in the future. Similarly when you find yourself still slightly worrying about the same problem you can do the exercise again to dissolve your anxiety farther.
Does it work for panic attacks?
The worst thing about panic attacks is feeling anxious about another attack. You can dissolve this anxiety by using the exercise and the chance of another panic attack will be reduced almost to zero.
Does it work for general anxiety?
People who suffer from general anxiety have a cramping feeling in their bodies almost all the time. They keep attaching more and more thoughts and situations to this feeling and after some time almost everything can trigger the feeling.
They can use the exercise for disconnecting all worrying thoughts from the feeling. It means that they may need to do the exercise several times for different thoughts. It is like disarming a mine field and it can be very successful.
Does it work for events from the past?
Yes, if your present life is affected by a traumatic event from the past, like a car accident, and you still feel upset about it, you can dissolve this feeling by using the exercise. You will still remember everything that happened but it will not make you feel upset any more.
Will it work when I am anxious about future events?
Yes, when you feel anxious about something which is going to happen, like a coming exam or important presentation, you can dissolve this feeling using the exercise. You will find yourself a lot more confident and ready to perform.
PLEASE, DO NOT DRIVE OR OPERATE MACHINERY WHILE DOING THIS EXERCISE
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