Anxiety is intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Anxiety can result in a rapid heart rate, sweaty palms, rapid breathing, or feeling tired. Anxiety is a survival response. It kick in when we anticipate a situation that may cause us harm. For some people, this survival response kicks in during public speaking, or walking over an uncertain surface like a bridge. Our survival brain says, "this MIGHT be unsafe." And thus, kicks up the survival responses that prepare us for fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. These responses would help a mammal survive in the wild, and they still kick-in when our brain wants to help us survive today. For example, a rapid heart rate and rapid breathing would be just the right response if we needed to run away from danger.
However, these survival responses are not helpful in our modern world. One way to reduce anxiety is to remember that it's a useful survival response. You might say to yourself, "Thank you anxiety, for trying to keep me safe." You might remind yourself that while this response would be helpful if a lion were chasing you, at the moment you just need to give a speech and speeches don't hurt people.
A second strategy to reduce your anxiety is to be kind or compassionate toward yourself. Just like you might talk to your child with kindness and compassion if they expressed a fear to you, you could also speak to yourself in the same way. For example, "I know this is scary. It's hard to stand in front of an audience and talk. It's okay to be scared. I also know that you can totally do this. You can be brave at the same time you are scared. You have all the tools you need get through this moment." This approach can be challenging if we're used to being hard on ourselves. Kindness and compassion will help us to relax.
Hopefully, these two approaches will provide you some relief on your journey toward healing anxiety. If you find you need support, please reach out to us to get started with services.
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