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REDUCING ANXIETY WITH ACCEPTANCE

Anxiety is a feeling that is common to us all and in fact we wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning without feeling compelled to do something with the day ahead. But what happens if your anxiety is really high about everything all the time? Well the best thing to do it accept it and stop struggling with it. If you struggle with thoughts of anxiety you are in the loop of being anxious about your anxiety. But if you simply accept your feelings of anxiety, even though uncomfortable, you no longer enter the anxious struggle world.

I wonder if you can understand the concept that you are not your mind? In your own internal world your mind uses the language of words, images and thoughts to project onto a screen what you are experiencing. Humans can however, observe their own thoughts so if you are experiencing anxiety you can actually step back and see your mind is projecting thoughts of anxiety. The trick is not to struggle with these thoughts as if you do you are fighting anxiety thoughts.

Imagine falling into quicksand. If you laid flat you would float and stay alive. Quicksand only kills you when you struggle in it and in doing so you drown yourself. Anxiety is the same, if you observe, recognize and accept the feelings and do not struggle the anxiety feelings will lessen.

It does not matter what uncomfortable feelings you are experiencing whether it be loneliness, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, or whatever, rather than struggling with these feelings accept them. Maybe laugh at these projected thoughts onto your mind screen or make the words that pop up into bright colours with a bouncing ball or make up a song about these thoughts. Doing this allows you the control to observe and defuse your thoughts as just thoughts that will pass.

So here is a trick. Imagine a struggle switch at the back of your mind. Right now it is off. You all of a sudden have feelings on anxiety say about a meeting where you have to present material. Okay you accept these feelings of anxiety. You recognize where in your body you feel these translated feelings. You see the words that pop up in your mind and make them a colour but you don’t switch the struggle switch on which is a secondary mind system.

Your primary mind system produced anxiety thoughts and feelings and you accept these but you do not allow your mind to fall into a secondary system of struggle. Once you enter the struggle world you are now struggling with the anxiety, which means being anxious about the anxiety and this is not a good place to be. How am I going here? Have I lost you?

The important thing to take away is that you are not your mind. You can observe your mind as a series of language expressions of thoughts, images, ideas that come and go to be projected onto a screen for you to observe. Don’t fight the quicksand, lie flat and float and you will survive although it is uncomfortable.

 

Alcohol and Depression

When we drink alcohol the party gets going and it all seems great but the ending is not always so. When we begin to drink we get an instant celebratory high but if we keep drinking, drinking and drinking the night can become weird.

We can end up having: forgettable sex, shameful behaviours, feelings of emotional anger plus experiencing a horror day afterwards with feelings of guilt, depression and loneliness. What a bummer when the night started off so well.

Depression brought on by alcohol use is a medical fact but the great thing is if we stop drinking the depression will lift in no time at all. There is a cycle that goes like this: love a drink, love another, and another, then drunk, then depressed, then loneliness. This is especially the case if we drink alone at home.

When we drink our pre-frontal cortex, which controls the regulation of our emotions is disabled, making us less able to manage our free-floating thoughts. Emotions and feelings come and go in our minds throughout the day and our pre-frontal cortex deals with them rationally. But if we drink a lot – bingo – we experience little control of these same negative emotions. That is why alcohol violence is so prevalent. When the person becomes sober again they find it hard to understand who that other person was – who behaved so badly. I have had clients who have ruined weddings, thrown wine in peoples faces, smashed up houses, attempted to drown them selves, hit their best friends, blah, blah, and blah.

Then there is the home drinker who drinks excessively every night (with a bottle of wine or more) and feels constantly depressed (because that amount of alcohol does that chemically) and then feels isolated, lost and lonely. That is a horrible habit to get into and experience.

But as I said before a lot of depression can be chemically eradicated instantly by giving up alcohol. To test this research, have a go yourself. If you drink every day stop for 2 days a week and see how much better you feel the following days. You will sleep better for a start, have more energy and your brain will function clearer. If you feel you are really out of control with drinking give it up for a month. You will lose weight, feel great, greatly reduce depression and be so much richer. You will love yourself so much more as well.

Most of all my clients prefer to manage alcohol better rather than give up completely. This means them coming up with a program of better management like: 2 days off a week, half filling wine glasses, drinking water between drinks, not having alcohol at home, etc. Everyone’s program is different.

I also ask my clients to give the person who gets drunk and out of control (them) another name. They then write stories about what this other person did under the influence of excessive alcohol. This really helps as the brain easily forgets these bad shameful memories.

What advice can you give to others about controlling alcohol consumption to relieve the symptoms of depression and loneliness? Or what are your experiences or thoughts about managing drinking?

Anxiety and Mind Churning

We all come across people that really get to us over what they said or did. We also tell ourselves negative stories about ourselves during the day. We could have done this or that! There are times when something happened that we can not understand why it occurred. And what do we do, we churn. Over and over we churn over the events, we take mental positions, work out what we should have said or done. We then set ourselves up to become outraged, angry, bitter and really upset. What follows next is negative behaviour like depression or anxiety.

Churning is just our minds making up stories and presenting negative emotional responses. Churning never ever achieves anything positive so what can you do to stop this mindful obsession? Easy, tell your mind to shut up. You see you are not your mind. As humans you can observe your mind thinking and actually decide what it can think about. There is a gap between you and your mind. That gap allows you to say to your mind – Shut Up.

Training your mind to shut up takes practice but by addressing any useless churning you will become stronger mentally in a very short time. Self talk to tackle churning allows you to get above the upsetting stories your mind is very content to replay continuously, if you allow it to have its way.

There is a difference between consideration and churning. When your mind processes ideas and events it is seeking solutions to move towards insight. Insight is when you feed your brain information about an issue and the brain pops up a solution you feel will work. Mindful consideration is productive but churning never is.

Why not try and stop the churning today. Practice makes perfect. First decide if the stories your mind is playing are either consideration or churning. If it is churning tell your mind to stop. To help this along sing a nursery rhyme like “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. Doing this is a humorous and a positive step to stop the churning. Maybe make up a song about what your mind is churning about.

You are right they should not have said or done that, we do tell ourselves negative stories and certain events should never have happened but life is always moving forward and trapping ourselves in the past does us no favours.

You won’t have to wait long for a negative story to pop up so be ready to tell your mind to just shut up. Maybe even use a swear word if that helps. Take care.

P.S. If you want 3 free lessons to tackle anxiety or depression, that you can do online, send me an email and I will send you the link to the St Vincent’s Anxiety Clinic.