We often use simple techniques in therapy. The secret is to practise them every day so that when you notice anxious feelings begin to appear you have a technique, which you know well, to help you. With practise these techniques will become default responses for you.
Think about fire safety at home. You can either wait for a fire to begin or you can install appliances which in case of fire will help e.g. a fire blanket, a smoke alarm etc. Similarly, these techniques mean that in case of anxiety, rather than fire, we are confident in the preparation we have practised.
- Don't be a fire-fighter, be a fire marshall and be prepared.
- The techniques seem deceptively simple; which is good because an anxious mind is an overwhelmed mind so the simpler the better.
- Practise makes perfect and makes the technique more effective and with time they will become a default response for you.
- Anxious minds follow the same pattern every time, you have the same sensations and symptoms. When we challenge anxiety with practised techniques we are causing a pattern interrupt which is necessary if we're to going to begin to regain control.
- During 5,4,3,2,1 we are taking ourselves out of our heads and moving our focus onto the external environment because anxiety likes to hide in your head.
- We add detail to the lists in 5,4,3,2,1 because it distracts us for longer and means that we focus even more outside our heads.
- Be proactive, not reactive. Be ready for the next anxiety attack.
- Say them out loud if it's appropriate because it's a further way to engage the brain.
- I encourage clients to write post-its and perhaps put them on their computer, their screen-saver etc. So they know what 5,4,3,2,1, means but nobody else does. This does two things a. it minds you to practise and it reminds you that you have a technique when anxiety begins to control you.