Anxiety? Use this Quick Tool to Tame the Runaway Train

Anxiety? Use this Quick Tool to Tame the Runaway Train

Orlando Counseling Providing Anxiety Therapy

You’re feeling anxious. Your mind is racing. Your heart is pounding and you’re all revved up. Even though you want to relax, you can’t seem to turn it off. There is a constant nagging feeling that you’re not doing enough, an undercurrent of “go, go, go.” This feeling won’t let you rest. You stop and think about what you’re worrying about, and you can’t even seem to narrow it down to one thing. You just feel all geared up. You start to wonder, “What the heck is wrong with me?!"

First, breathe, take a deep breath. Let’s sort this out together. If you struggle with ongoing anxiety, it’s likely that you have some wires crossed and I am going to help you get them uncrossed so that you can settle.

In my last post, Discerning the Difference between Danger and Discomfort [a tool to calm anxiety], I walked you, step by step, through an in depth mindfulness practice that will help you settle your system. In this post, I will teach you a quick tool I created called The Nest Method that builds on the practice.

What’s happening in the brain?

Your amygdala, the alarm center in your brain, is the mechanism intended to keep you safe and out of harms way. It is a scanner that detects threat and tells your nervous system to fight, flee, or freeze. Unless you are truly in danger, your amygdala has overreacted to something that is disturbing (either internal or external) and is treating this disturbance as if it is an actual threat of danger.

As a trauma and anxiety therapist providing counseling in Orlando, most of my clients struggle with an overactive alarm center. One of the first practices we do is to help settle their nervous system. We want the amygdala to stop reacting to something that is uncomfortable, as if it is dangerous. This is a mindfulness practice that begins to retrain the brain, if you will. I covered this practice in detail in my last post, Discerning the Difference between Danger and Discomfort [a tool to calm anxiety]

Is this dangerous or disturbing?

First, let’s look at the difference between disturbing and dangerous.

If something is disturbing, it is like a thorn in your side. It’s agitating and maybe even a little painful, but it is not dangerous.

If something is dangerous, it is life threatening on some level and you need to do something to keep yourself safe from harm or death.

Disturbing is annoying, dangerous is life-threatening.

The Brain as a Scanner

That scanner part of your brain is absolutely necessary for survival. It keeps you safe in the face of real danger. It triggers the autonomic nervous system so that you can do things that aren’t possible under normal conditions, like the stories we hear where a mom picks up a two ton car that has somehow trapped her baby.

In day to day circumstances, however, it is exhausting to respond to normal daily life stuff with a life or death response, which is often the case when you are plagued with a constant state of anxiety. Listed below is a 4 step process I created called THE NEST Method. It helps to soothe your system and expand your tolerance for disturbances and discomforts.

Using The NEST Method and other mindfulness practices decreases activity in the amygdala, the alarm center, and increase brain function in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that soothes anxiety.

The NEST Method

This practice works best after you’ve practiced and feel confident with the practice I covered in my last post.

N - Notice where the disturbance is coming from. Is it internal or external?

E - Evaluate, is this a discomfort or something dangerous?

S - Say, “Even though I feel this discomfort, I am safe.”

T - Thank your amygdala for having your best interest in mind and remind it that all is well and you’re safe.

Next time you’re feeling all revved up and you’re not sure the cause for alarm, use The NEST Method to tame the runaway train.

Like any mindfulness practice, we get better over time. It has been discovered in neuroscience that “neurons that fire together wire together.” Meaning, that in order to retrain the brain, we need to continue to give the brain this experience of safety through daily practice.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like to leave me a comment, please do so in the space below!

More on Anxiety and Mindfulness

If you’d like more information on using mindfulness to soothe anxiety, check out these posts.

Anxiety Much? Mindfulness to the Rescue

Discerning the Difference between Danger and Discomfort [a tool to calm anxiety]

Orlando Counseling for Anxiety

If you’d like more information on anxiety counseling in Orlando, click this link to my page on anxiety counseling.

Lauran is an anxiety and trauma therapist providing counseling in Orlando, FL. She also specializes in helping people heal old broken relationship patterns that keep them from finding, creating, and keeping healthy relationships with partners, friends, and family. Lauran uses a down to earth approach infused with cutting-edge therapies that go beyond traditional talking to help clients feel calm in their body and mind and find peace within themselves.