This is the second video of eight in this
video therapy course for anxiety. In the last video, I showed you how to self-diagnose
anxiety. In this video, I’m going to explain a little
bit about why anxiety happens, then I’m going to show you a quick technique to help you
to take the edge off your symptoms whilst you’re working through this course. Let’s
begin, though, with why anxiety happens. So, anxiety is the result of two predictions
that we make about the future. The first one is overestimating a disaster or something
bad happening. The second one is underestimating your ability to cope with it. These two predictions
combine together to switch on your fight-flight system, or your sympathetic nervous system,
which creates anxiety. So, a quick diagram. So, you can see, here,
overestimating a disaster, underestimating your ability to cope, leads to your sympathetic
nervous system switching on, leading to symptoms of anxiety. Now, you need both of these trains
of thought to switch your sympathetic nervous system on and create anxiety. If you only
do one of them, so, for example, you overestimate a disaster—so, something bad is going to
happen—but you think, ‘You know, I’m generally quite a resourceful person,’ you’re not going
to feel anxious. Equally, if you think, ‘You know, I’m not very resourceful, I’m not very
capable, but, generally, the world is a safe place,’ again, you won’t end up feeling anxious.
So, you need both of those trains of thought in order to experience anxiety.
So, for example, the disaster might be: I’m going to stand up in front of a room of people,
and my mind is going to go completely blank. Underestimating your ability cope would then
be: that’s going to make me panic, and I’m going to have to run from the room.
Okay, the other important aspect of anxiety, the other thing that keeps anxiety going once
it’s started, is how we respond to anxiety. Now, probably the most common way of responding
to anxiety is to avoid the thing that makes us anxious. For our ancestors, it was the
‘run to the back of the cave and hide’ response. Now, in the short-term, this response makes
us feel a little bit better because it takes away the thing that’s making us feel anxious.
But, in the longer-term, it actually keeps anxiety going because it means we never put
ourselves in the position where we can build confidence that we can actually cope.
So, if we just add that to our diagram here, you’ll see that in the short-term, avoiding
the source of the anxiety will reduce the anxiety. But, over the longer-term, we never
put ourselves in a position where we can start to nibble away at this tendency to underestimate
ourselves. So, that would be, ‘Okay, I’m going to go and stand in front of these people,
I’m going to allow my mind to go blank. I’m then going to take a deep breath. I’m going
to allow myself to settle, and I will be able to find my words.’ This experience will then
go in your arsenal of experiences to stop you underestimating yourself.
Okay, in terms of our plan here in this therapy course, we’re going to do two things. So,
we’re going to start by changing these two predictions; we’re also going to work on this
avoidance. So, I’m going to give you a set of techniques that will enable you to put
yourselves in those situations to start building your confidence that you can manage. And these
two things will switch your sympathetic nervous system off, and switch the alternate part
of your nervous system, the parasympathetic, or the ‘rest, digest, and regenerate’ part
of your nervous system, on. Okay, so, that’s the plan. But, for now, I’m
going to show you a quick technique to help you switch your sympathetic nervous system
off. Now, it’s not a solution—we do need to deal with the origins of your anxiety,
so, we do need to deal with those two predictions—but it’s a really good, short-term way of managing
your anxiety. Okay, now, when your sympathetic nervous system
is active—when you’re feeling anxious—your breathing is very fast, it’s very rapid. When
your parasympathetic nervous system is on, and you’re feeling calm, your breathing is
very deep, and it’s very slow. Now, interestingly, just by changing the way that you breathe,
you can trick your brain into switching off your sympathetic nervous system—and anxiety—and
switch on your parasympathetic nervous system—and calmness.
So, give this a go. Sitting comfortably, breathing in through your nose, and out through your
mouth, inhale for the count of two. One…two… And exhale. One…two… Now, inhale for the
count of three. One…two…three… Exhale.
One…two…three… Inhale. One…two…three…four…
Exhale. One…two…three…four… Inhale.
One…two…three…four…five… You need to practice this, but the more you practice
it, the more effective it will be at switching off anxiety and switching on a feeling of
calmness. Now, just before we finish, a quick mention
about the monitoring. Now, hopefully, at the end of every day, when you’ve been brushing
your teeth, you’ve been making a note of how anxious you were feeling. Try and keep this
going because, over the next couple of weeks, you’re going to start to notice some fluctuations
in your anxiety—if you haven’t done already—and what I want you to do is to start to try and
work out what makes the difference for you. Okay, in the next video, we’re going to start
properly working on your anxiety. We’re going to start on these two predictions so that
your symptoms will begin to reduce. Okay, I hope this was helpful, thank you for
watching. And I will see you next time.
This is the second video of eight in this