A Simple Process to Reduce Anxiety and Stress

By Nigel Magowan

In these uncertain times people are becoming more and more anxious about their finances and their future. Believe it or not, a little bit of stress and anxiety is actually a good thing. The purpose of it is to keep you safe and alive. However too much anxiety or stress can have the opposite effect and it reduces your performance, resourcefulness, effectiveness, decision making abilities and impacts your health. Taking a little time out each day for your own well-being can have some deeply positive effects. It is also a particularly useful thing to do before specific anxiety and stress provoking events like interviews, presentations or, meetings or any situation in which you just want to feel more calm and positive.

The Stress and Anxiety Reduction Process

Here is a simple but very effective process, which comes from a blend of ideas from meditation, HeartMath and NLP. When practised regularly, it can help you to feel much more emotionally balanced, more positive, feel less stressed and can improve your mental clarity.

Practice it regularly for at least 5 to 15 minutes at a time, or longer if you can. It is also a particularly useful thing to do before anxiety and stress provoking events like meetings, presentations or interviews, or any time you just want to feel more calm and positive. Practice at least once a day for several weeks and remember, you are learning a new skill so be patient with yourself, the more you practice the easier and more automatic it will become.

1. Focus your awareness

Place your awareness on the centre of your chest.

2. Slow Deep and Rhythmic Breathing

Imagine that you are breathing in and out through the centre of your chest as you continue to hold your awareness there.

Begin to allow your breathing to gently slow and deepen, so that you breathe into the abdomen then the chest area. As you breathe out let the air leave the abdomen first then the chest. Your breathing should never feel forced or overextended. Let your breathing gently slow and deepen, until you are comfortably breathing in for 5 seconds and out for 5 seconds. It may take some practice to get to the point where your deep breathing feels smooth and natural. Once a smooth and natural breathing rhythm is established you can go to the next step.

3. Positive Feelings

Recall when you've felt a really good strong emotion. Some examples are compassion, confidence, success, appreciation, happiness, a favourite place or activity. Re-imagine the experience again as though you are actually there. See it, hear it, feel it. Immerse yourself fully in it again and allow the good feelings to flow over and through you. Notice the detail in each of your senses. Make the mental images brighter, closer and bigger. Allow any physical sensations to intensify and spread through your body and around you. Turn up the sounds. Imagine doubling and trebling the feelings and sensations. Remember to continue the breathing from the first steps.

4. Anchor those good feelings into other areas of your life

As the good feelings from the previous step continue to intensify and flow throughout your body. Let them spread around you and form into a translucent protective bubble with you safely inside looking out. Notice the colour of this bubble, and let that colour slightly tint whatever you look at outside of the bubble. Imagine looking out through your bubble of positive feelings as you consider some of the stresses and anxieties in your life. Ensure that you maintain the positive emotion as you do this. You may need to cycle between steps 3 and 4 to keep the positive emotions feeling intense. Next spend some time imagining experiencing the day ahead in the most amazing way possible whilst staying inside your positive bubble.

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