Nicola Griffiths Cirencester Hypnotherapy Centre
Well, what a pickle we’re all in! Usually I write these articles with a topic coming into my mind as I sit down to start typing. But this time around, I knew exactly what I was going to write about ahead of time.
Running a clinic that deals with mental health, I knew anxiety levels in 2020 were already pretty high in a lot of people before this decade started, let alone as we got into this year. But now? Well, I can’t be far off in presuming that the levels have gone up significantly!
So, what can be done about it? For a start, a very simple understanding of how the brain works can be helpful in beginning to reduce anxiety levels:
You have an intellectual conscious bit of the brain (about 10%). The other 90% is your subconscious that holds your fight/flight/freeze/faint responses. Fact: The subconscious part struggles to understand the difference between reality and imagination – this is key.
The body has an ability to create chemicals, such as serotonin (positive) and cortisol (stress chemical) and how we think and feel will affect the manufacture of our chemicals. It we think too negatively, we’ll create an overload of stress chemicals which can increase levels of anxiety and/or depression.
The big fact above is that most of the brain doesn’t know the difference between imagination and reality. If you start negatively thinking about a potential future event, or outcome, that hasn’t happened yet, then the brain in charge of our fight/flight response starts to move into emergency mode, as though the negative outcome has already arrived – now!
Then, when we do arrive at an actual emergency, i.e. COVID-19 times, the brain goes into overload and anxiety responses such as insomnia, panic, feeling ill (even when you’re healthy), irritable bowel syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc, etc, all come into play. It’s the subconscious mind’s way of telling you that it can’t cope.
In order to keep anxiety levels down, especially in troubled times, there are certain things we can do:
- Take positive action wherever possible
- Have positive interaction, again wherever possible
- Think positively, wherever possible (are you getting a theme here?)
- Have a positive focus
Take point 2 above, I had a lovely 1.5 hour catch up with one of my oldest friends yesterday via Zoom and after moaning about COVID-19, we went on to laugh about all sorts. Yes, laugh! Who’d have thought?
My 92-year old Mum is currently in lock down in Stratton Court care home in Cirencester. They arranged to play her very short videos that my sisters and I recorded on our mobile phones. I think this positive action (point 1 above) and positive thinking (point 3 above) is very commendable. Their attitude is “What can we do” rather than “Yikes, we can’t do that anymore”.
Point 4 above is an interesting one. Usually, we may have focus to get the children to school; get to work; get the shopping, etc. A lot of that has gone out of the window. Therefore, we might need to think about what our focus should now be? It could simply be how to get some money in, to put food on the table? The calmer we are, the more efficiently the brain will work in order to come up with ideas. Try relaxing your shoulders, let them drop, then take a moment or two and let your brain slow down before trying to come up with answers. One of the US Navy Seals mottos, when in urban combat, is ‘Slow is smooth, smooth is fast’. Even if someone’s life is in danger, they slow down because then they are more likely to get it right first time. Slowing the brain down, as well as the body, can really pay dividends in challenging times. It gives us more control.
It doesn’t mean we don’t worry, but it brings in a positive that balances the chemicals in our brains a little. As I’m always saying to clients, it’s the small steps that make a big difference.
So, in challenging times, remember it’s not totally about the situation, it’s the way we deal with it that can make a significant difference.
The therapists in the clinic truly understand the panic reaction when survival is at risk, so if anyone wants a free download to help with anxiety and/or sleep, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll email you back a download.
We will also be starting a free half-hour ‘Take Control of Anxiety’ online workshop every Saturday, from 28th March. Details will appear on the home page of our website shortly.
Keep well people!
Nicola Griffiths runs the Cirencester Hypnotherapy & Health Centre. Their website is www.cirencesterhypnotherapycentre.co.uk. Tel: 01285 652449.