Have you ever seen a happy deer?
Stick with me on this…
Deer always look on edge to me, like they are just waiting for something to come along and gobble them up. If you don't believe me then just watch any David Attenborough documentary, you know the ones, the shot cuts to a nervous looking deer like creature and then 10 seconds later it's running for it's life from a hungry lion. Sometimes the lion catches the deer but, if the deer has been scanning for danger and sees it quick enough, he/she can run it's little hooves off and get away.
So animals have good reason to scan for danger and have negative thoughts but do you?
Well it wasn’t so long ago that us humans (a.k.a. cavemen and cavewomen) also spent our days foraging for food and keeping an eye out for those equally hungry sabre-tooth tigers. Now the important bit is, even though sabre-tooth tigers are extinct and we can just pop to Nandos for dinner (don’t judge me), evolutionary wise our brains haven’t changed much. Fast forward to modern day and our brains are still trying to keep us safe so it’s natural for you to have negative thoughts too.
When are negative thoughts helpful?
So take this example, I like to think of myself as skilled crosser of a road. I remember the green cross code adverts from the 80’s and the endless hand holding whilst on school trips. Look right and left a few times, judge the traffic and stride confidently. However like everyone, I’m not perfect and a few weeks ago I was, let’s just say, a little distracted, and I didn’t see the car approaching.
You know that feeling where time slows down, your body feels like you’ve just downed 10 cups of coffee and your tummy is flipping like an Olympic gymnast? Yep, that happened. This was because my ancient negative brain thought, ‘If you don’t get out of the way you are going to get run over and that’s going to hurt” (or words to that affect with the possibility of an expletive). On thinking this it then it did an amazing thing, it hit the ‘Danger’ button in my brain sending my body into the fight/flight or freeze response to help me get out the way.
I say amazing but I know if you have anxiety you are going to fight me hard on this one but let me explain. In this life threatening situation my body was pumped with hormones, these helped my heart beat quicker, moving the blood and oxygen round my body to my main leg and arms muscles so I could run. It then tried to empty my bladder and stomach so I was lighter to run away and it pumped hormones to my brain so I could just focus on the danger. It even pumped hormones around me to help my skin heal should I get hit.
Never under estimate the power of breathing!
Taking long deep breathes can help control the horrible physical effects of anxiety.
2. Distraction & Visualisation
Calm your brain and body by focusing on something else. Try some of these ideas...
A good nights sleep can make us feel like a different person. Not only can it improve our mood, concentration and energy levels it can also help us maintain a healthy weight and lower stress levels. If you are finding it difficult to get the necessary zzzzzzzz then check out these handy hints…
Still not sure whats affecting your sleep? Try keeping a Sleep Diary for a week and see if you can work out what's keeping you awake: