Self Treatment for Anxiety When You Have Irritable Bowel Symptoms - How to Calm Your Brain's "Alarm Center"
Feeling anxious? This is Part Two of a three-part series on anxiety. This post gives you 4 anti-anxiety tips for the way your brain makes you anxious. I find Tips #1 and #4 great for quickly reducing anxiety when I feel overwhelmed. Part Three provides 6 tips for dealing with physical sources of anxiety that often go unsuspected.
In Part One of this post, I talked about the causes of anxiety and how the part of your brain called the amygdala is the "alarm center" for fear and anxiety. So the first thing to do when you feel anxious, is calm the amygdala.
Four Anti-Anxiety Tips for calming the amygdala, your brain's "alarm center":
1. As you may have noticed, we’re big on tapping on this site, so the first thing to do is tap. Don’t know how? Watch the video below.
You'll find another “tapping script” (words you can say while tapping) below that you can use for more anxiety relief, once you’ve watched the video and seen where and how to tap.
Why does tapping work? You are stimulating acupressure points, identified four or five thousand years ago in Traditional Chinese Medicine as places on the body that bring your energy flow into balance. When you are in balance, it's MUCH easier to be calm and relaxed than when you are out of balance. Makes sense, right? Research studies by Bruce Pomeranz, MD, PhD, and other scientists demonstrate that stimulating acupressure points really does enhance healing and stress relief and is not simply a placebo.
Start by tapping on the side of your hand (the Karate Chop or KC point), like Kathy does in the video:
KC: Even though I feel stressed and anxious, I choose to feel calm and relaxed
Now tap through the points on the face and torso that Kathy taps on, using these reminder phrases. (One reminder phrase for each point you tap.)
Round Two: Repeat Round One
In the video, only two rounds are tapped. But now you know where the points are, you can tap the following Round Three to install some confidence...
EB: What if I don’t have to feel so anxious?
Take a deep breath, hold it for a second, and let it out.
To relieve the stress on your body and nervous system and reduce the chance that anxiety will trigger your irritable bowel symptoms, tap every time you feel anxious and stressed.
2. Neuroscientist, Dr. Robert Scaer, says that when you are in the present, the amygdala is silent. Maybe you’ve heard that saying, “Be here now.” Well, that goes for calming the amygdala.
One quick and simple way to be in the present is to make yourself concentrate on something neutral. Try counting backwards from 1,001, spotting red cars, looking for a four-leaf clover in your lawn, reading and making a recipe, or doing anything else that makes you focus intently on something in the immediate moment. If you have one of the children's books from the series, Where's Waldo?, they are great for bringing your attention into the present. Or just focus on your breathing and count your breaths.
Do these ideas sound too silly or too simple? How can they help?
Much of anxiety is imagining yourself in stressful situations. When you do that, you are scaring yourself with your own thoughts! You've mentally placed yourself in the future where you believe something bad will happen. This instructs your amygdala to have a fear reaction and makes you anxious and panicky.
Instead, bring your mind back from the scary imagined future by concentrating on something immediate. Then give your mind a better direction to follow by thinking up positive outcomes. As Wayne Dyer, Bill Harris, Bob Proctor, and all the other self-help gurus continually point out, you get what you focus on.
3. The consciousness practices of mindfulness, meditation, and yoga are about being in the present and they help to keep the amygdala from flaring. This is the classic anti-anxiety treatment people have used for thousands of years in many parts of the world.
Notice your breathing and become aware of your body as you intentionally allow each part of yourself to relax, from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. Consciously tell yourself to relax; think, “I am relaxed and calm,” and imagine yourself in relaxing situations. Give up the false belief that if you aren’t stressed, you won’t get anything done.
These practices sound simple but can have profound effects, especially when you use them consistently.
4. When you’re anxious or scared and your amygdala is overloaded, the blood leaves your forebrain. This is where you do your rational thinking so when it’s off-line, you’ll find it hard or impossible to study for exams, concentrate on work or remember things easily.
Here’s what to do: Put your hand across your forehead and hold it there for at least a minute (or until you start to feel calmer). This will draw the circulation back into your forebrain, calm the amygdala, and relieve anxiety. What you are doing is holding the “neurovascular points” on your forehead which affect circulation throughout your body as well as in your brain!
These points are about an inch above your eyebrows, where your skull slightly bumps outwards. Donna Eden, author of the best-seller, “Energy Medicine,” says that you can hold these points for 1 to 5 minutes when you are stressed. Think about whatever is bothering you while you keep your hand on your forehead. This will help you to reprogram your nervous system’s response to the stress and relax.
The next thing to do is address the physical stresses that can make you anxious. In Part One, I listed seven of them: dehydration from diarrhea, toxic build-up from constipation, food allergies and intolerances, chemical sensitivity, lack of sleep, lack of exercise and shallow breathing. To deal with them, I’ll give you Six Anti-Anxiety Tips To Calm Your Body in Part Three.