We are officially living in really interesting times. And it’s probably getting to you a bit, if you’re honest. I’ve switched off the news updates and deleted twitter from my phone, I haven’t watched TV news for months. But it hasn’t stopped the drumbeat of low level anxiety as the soundtrack to my world recently. On anxious days the chatter in my head is loud. Mean thoughts peck at me and I spiral down. I’m hearing from clients globally that they’re feeling it too. I’m hearing it in their voices. I’m sensing it in emails.
Happily there is one real fail safe solution to anxiety.
Get out of your head and get into your body – particularly into your somatic nervous system which has a big role in kick starting and managing the movements of your body.
Why does it help to get into the body? Because the human attention system is limited. It can manage either chatter in the head, or attention to the body, It can’t do both, And the very limitation of that system makes it an off switch to the anxious voice in your head when you need it.
First: say thank you to your head with all its worrying and anxiety – it’s the result of your brain doing its best via the anxiety to help you survive. The benefit of saying thank you to the brain for its efforts is that often it ramps down the anxiety.
Second: Turn your attention to your body.
- Tuning into your somatic nervous system can be done by paying attention to your inner world, a taste in your mouth, the breath in your lungs.
- You also notice your somatic system when you are in nature – so going for a walk is a good way to calm down, as most of us know.
- But that doesn’t necessarily help you when you are about to speak in a meeting or walk out on stage. Actors tend to turn to their senses, their exterior edges, the places where the atoms of your body meet the atoms of the space around it.
Photo by Simon Annand
Getting into your edges is easy…
- Feel your feet on the floor.
- Feel the air on your skin
- Feel your back on the chair.
- The sounds in your ears.
- Your tongue in your mouth.
When you come back to the simple somatic facts, notice how it quietens the anxious ticker tape in your head, and suddenly life feels doable again.
It’s a little speaker lifesaver, oh- and that glass of water on the lectern or meeting room table is also a godsend when anxiety hits. Take a slow swig, feel the water as you swallow it, and come back to the body. Notice that paying attention to your edges – where your body meets the space allows you to feel less edgy. It’s essential for all of us to have that in such uncertain times.
I shared a short video about this earlier in the week which you can watch by clicking on the link below.
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