These are the three techniques that help you create a better foundation for dealing with your panic and anxiety.
They also help you get mentally and emotionally stronger so taking additional steps in reducing the power anxiety and panic have over you is easier.
They’re listed here in the order it’s recommended that you learn and use them. You can also find them individually listed under Tips and Techniques.
With that said, it’s okay to begin with Feel the Loving Kindness and then move onto Make a Space. Regardless of which of those two you start with, I still think it’s a good idea to become well-versed in using both of them before moving onto Staying and Naming.
But you know what’s best for you.
Make a Space
Whether your anxiety is constantly nagging at you, your days are full to overflowing, or stress is causing you to lose your cool, this simple technique gives you a few moments of peace while giving your mind a chance to reset itself.
This is the technique I learned from reading/listening to Tara Brach’s book Radical Acceptance. She calls it a “sacred pause.”
Psychologist Victor Frankl put it this way, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. “
With this technique, you’re making a conscious decision to disengage from what’s going on in your life by making a strategic retreat into a mentally and emotionally calm and quiet space where you can be present with yourself.
It’s as simple as taking a moment or two to pause, check in with yourself, and connect with what’s going on with you. It’s so easy to do that you can do it as you finish a task, a phone call, or while you’re waiting in line.
Just those few moments out of your day, done multiple throughout your day, can reduce stress and make it easier for you to respond to what’s happening in your life rather than automatically reacting to it..
Use this technique to boost your success by helping you mentally and emotionally transition from one task to another, prepare for a meeting or recover from one!
The grounding techniques are helpful when you have difficulty connecting with your body. They’re also good techniques to practice if you’re challenged with panic attacks, agoraphobia, other space related phobias, or dissociation experiences.
Feel the Loving Kindness
This technique is based on the Buddhist Loving Kindness meditation.
Though there are variations of the Loving Kindness practice, all of them begin with expressing loving kindness for one’s self first.
Beginning with you is not being selfish. It’s practical in the same way that putting your airplane oxygen mask on first before you help anyone else is practical.
In the full Loving Kindness meditation, once you have filled yourself with feelings of compassion and goodwill you then extend those feelings first to loved ones, then to friends, and then to those people for whom you have neutral feelings.
The final three sections of the full Loving Kindness practice include people who irritate you, the combined group of you, your loved ones, friends, neutrals and irritating people, and lastly all beings throughout time and space.
As you can imagine, the full practice can take a long time to complete.
This shortened version is a quick, effective way to realign with your center and feel better about yourself. It’s also good at reducing stress and calming anxiety. I’ve also found it to be a wonderful antidote for a noise inner critic.
If at first you find it difficult to be loving and compassionate towards yourself, don’t beat yourself up about it.
Instead begin by expressing kindness to someone or something you love such as a pet. Then take that feeling and transfer it to yourself.
Remember to practice it often during the day.
The above wording of the mantra is part of the practice I learned from Tara Brach in her book Radical Acceptance. Feel free to use your own words.
What’s important is the feeling of loving kindness that you create for yourself.
The Loving Kindness practice kindness can be done anywhere at any time including at night should anxiety disrupt your sleep.
Staying and Naming
Emotions can be messy things, and when you have difficulty getting in touch with them, they can make your life a mess.
That’s because if you don’t acknowledge them, and stay with them long enough to name them and to comprehend how they’re affecting your life, they’ll do nothing but continue to sabotage you.
Besides being messy, emotions can be scary. Overwhelming, disruptive, and inappropriate are just a few words to describe how emotions can get expressed.
And then there are the ones you just don’t want to feel.
Yet, by denying, suppressing and ignoring them, you’re actually make a slave of yourself to them, and you’re denying yourself a deeper and more freeing life experience.
So what to do?
Stay with yourself and your emotions. Don’t run away. Stay and let them in – a little bit at a time because you don’t want to be overwhelmed.
Keep your breathing as regular and deep as you can.
Stay with yourself and sense how you’re feeling.
Can you put a name to it? Does the name resonate or fall flat?
If it resonates, gauge how big or little that feeling was. If it felt small, try related words or open yourself up a little more to what you’re feeling.
You can even ask your feelings to name themselves.
Stay with your emotions and keep naming all the parts of them. There will come a time that you realize that your naming has been successful, and the emotions that were pushing for attention have been suitably expressed.
Staying with yourself and your emotions is not easy, but it becomes easier with practice.
Sometimes all you can do is Stay and Breathe and let your feelings simply flow through you like the clouds flow across the sky. And that’s fine too.
Trust yourself and do what’s needful for you at that time.
When learning something new, it’s good to practice it in the same way over and over again as that consistency helps build your new neural connections.
With that said, making the new learning material your own also means changing it to suit you. When you find what works for you, you’ll be more inclined to do it repeatedly.
That’s probably the most important part of these practices, doing them repeatedly throughout your day.
“Neurons that fire together wire together” so aim for at least 6 practices a day.
If you start and end you day with the practices, then there are only 4 more times during the day you have to remember to do them.
When I started doing them, I was so desperate for the moments of relief they provided that it seemed as though there were days I was doing a hundred of them!
And I still do them throughout my day.
Feel the Loving Kindness is a wonderful antidote to your inner critic’s nagging.
Doing Make a Space regularly as you transition from one segment of your day to the next helps you put things into perspective so you can manage them to your advantage.
And even the Staying and Naming can help reduce the feelings of overwhelm as it helps you focus on the emotions behind those feelings.
Outsmarting Panic and Anxiety begins with self-care and with creating processes that work for you.
These are the foundation techniques that can help you do both.
For more Tips and Techniques, click here.
Want to know more about Neuroplasticity? Check out what Dr. Rick Hanson has to say with Postive Neuroplasticity for Anxiety