Last week we looked at when anxiety is at its worst, how it can immobilise us and the freeze response takes over how we feel and often our nervous system too. We used the analogy of the rabbit, which is one of the best creatures we know who use the freeze response to stay alive, and how we can’t just shake the bunny awake. At this point, our nervous system is in shut down and is far too afraid to action anything for the fear of dying. You might think that the last statement is a bit dramatic but this isn’t the case our nervous system is so powerful and is directly connected to our unconscious and primaeval minds. The feelings it sends to our bodies are so strong and overwhelming at times we can literally feel paralysed by them. So, if we can’t shake the bunny awake, what can we use as a carrot to entice them out of this frozen state? We know in nature that leaving the bunny alone will be the only way to change this state of immobilisation, as with time it will sense the danger is gone and bounce back to life. We can do this too with people frozen in fear, but for many of us who want to help our loved ones and ourselves, we don’t just want to wait it out till our nervous system feels safe again.
The best way to help us feel safe and allow our nervous system to reset is to do the things that we would be doing if we were in that safe happy place when our nervous system is balanced and at peace. This, of course, can be different for all of us, as when we are in this frozen state it can seem hard to reach these things but let’s look at ways that can start the process of resetting ourselves. One of the easiest things we can do ourselves is to use our breathing, to change the nervous system from fear to relaxed, with breathing it is more about breathing out and sighing the tension away. A lot of the time when we are anxious, we will be holding tension in our torso, try breathing in for the count of 1 and breathing out for the count of two. The longer breath out is a great way to start relaxing our breath, you can sigh or even yawn this will also help to release the tension, which in turn will help to make you feel more relaxed. The next thing we can do it help shift the fear can be to use different sounds, calming music, classical music, gongs, bells, calming voices and even laughter calm our nervous system, again this is a personal thing. When you’re in a good place try out the different sounds, voices and music that relax you, people who have had sessions with me will automatically find my voice calming so the blogs and audio recording will help relax you. You can make a pact with your family they can talk to you, put on your chosen music and sounds, helping them to be the carrot that draws you out of this immobilised state.
Once we start to relax and move from the immobilised frozen state the positive changes can then be encouraged by moving, things like tai chi, Yoga, Pilates, stretching and bending. Any type of movement will help too calm our nervous system, adding in the great outdoors and nature if you can, will just enhance the relaxing properties of gentle movement. Heading out to walk the dog, walk with friends and family or just some time on your own, all will help you relax and reset your nervous system. If you have someone you know who gets immobilised in fear, be the one to dangle the carrot, don’t feel that people trapped in this state don’t want to change, they do desperately want to. But what they need to find is a way out from the fear state into a safe direction to be drawn them to, send them nice voice messages, set up regular walking and movement times will help them develop better habits.
Another thing that can help us move from the immobilised state is being creative, any form of art can help us move to a safer place whether it be painting, sculpture, drawing or colouring. Doing things that can transport us out of our heads and into the experience will bring about the shift we need to relax. Helping entice ourselves and the people we know struggling with their anxiety to come out from the fear state into safety. Within all of this, we have to find what works for us and things which entice us to come back into a safe place within ourselves. Understanding this is the key, which can help create the carrot we need to entice us out of fear and into safety, which will shift deeply within our minds and bodies plus causing our nervous system to change. Over time we can then set up new paths ways in our brain which help us form new patterns and habits which become the new automatic state of normal for us. Changing takes time and it important to be persistent with this process, don’t give up if the carrot doesn’t work one day, it is so important to stand back and see the bigger picture. We need the change to establish and set a new example to ourselves, minds and belief system to help build the confidence within us to know that we don’t need to live in the immobilised fear state anymore. If we can look back after a month of persistent enticement to change from fear to calm you will see there has been a shift. Then it’s time to set the bar higher and move into the next month of change, over time we can then look back and see just what we have achieved by enticing ourselves to change from the fear state.
Time is precious, don’t waste a drop of it, start changing today.
Thanks for dropping by Sara x