In an earlier post, I covered important information that helps you understand anxiety.  I highly recommend you take a look at that earlier post prior to reading this blog if you haven’t read it yet, as I believe it is important to understand the nature of anxiety before leaping into solutions.  Here’s a link to the article: .  How do we deal with anxiety, is there a solution?

The symptoms of anxiety are caused by our bodies’ attempts to process and get rid of stress hormones, namely cortisol and adrenaline.  In pre-historic times, when humans had to flee from real predators, these anxiety hormones geared our ancestors up to run away from harm or to fight for survival.

Running, fighting and any intense physical activity use up the adrenaline and cortisol that are produced when we are afraid. These hormones spur us forward today, just like they did in previous centuries. While the spurt of hormones to get us moving was useful when there was a real threat to life, the hormones are troublesome if we cannot easily eliminate them in our modern lives. For example, if we are working at a desk or driving a car when anxiety strikes, then the stress hormones flood through us, but they are not used up in any helpful way. This explains why your body starts to shake if you feel anxious.  It is trying to use up those stress hormones. They have been produced because of a perceived danger, and yet you are not responding by running way or engaging in conflict. Therefore, your body shakes to process the unwanted adrenaline and cortisol. Trembling and shaking during an anxiety attack are completely natural. Knowing that removes some of the fear around what’s happening to you.

If you look at swimmers before they take to the blocks, they are extremely high in adrenaline.  Watch how they shake it out before plunging into the water. Once they are in the water, they utilise those chemicals in a way that helps them focus on their goal, and swim as fast as they can. After leaving the water, the swimmers are no longer troubled by the hormones, because the hormones achieved what they were meant to do.

Since shaking is your body’s attempt to process adrenaline and cortisol, try stomping your feet, walking, running, dancing, or any other activity that will provide an outlet for them. The quicker you can process those chemicals, the faster they will leave you. Even if you heart is beating rapidly, provided that you do not have a heart problem, you are not at risk. A rapid heart rate just means you are geared up to protect yourself, even when you do not really need to do so.

Let’s look at some strategies you can use to help reduce and manage anxiety.

If you see or experience a frightening event, there is a small window of time in which you can reduce the likelihood of the fear having a longer- term impact on you. This window of time varies from person to person, but the general rule is that it is helpful to distract yourself and engage in something else as soon as you can.  Do not go over and over the event, replaying it in your mind. This is particularly important in the first twelve to twenty-four hours. Re-playing a traumatic event or feeling in your mind and body quickly creates neural pathways that make it harder to leave the feeling of that trauma behind you.

If you experience anxiety in a more general way, such as when you go about your daily life, you can still use strategies to help you overcome it.

As soon you begin to feel the symptoms of anxiety, affirm to yourself that those feelings are not ‘you.’ In other words, name them and separate yourself from them. Here is an example of what I mean.

“Ah, there it is again – that feeling of dread in my stomach. I know what you are. That’s not me. That’s just old anxious wiring firing in my brain. I don’t need you anymore.”

What you are really doing, is separating yourself from that feeling of anxiety as soon as you sense it. Let me explain my own process:

When I was working in hypnotherapy and counselling, I came up with a strategy to help my clients deal with anxiety. It’s easy to remember and is based on the word G.R.A.C.E.

Each letter in the word GRACE represents a specific step which will help you overcome your fear of anxiety and panic. These steps should be followed in order.

Recovery from anxiety may not mean you will never feel those old sensations; however it does mean they will cause you little or no distress.  You – the real you – will observe any sensations in a detached way.  Once you change your perception of anxious thoughts, and detach from the sensations, anxiety has no reason to persist.

The G.R.A.C.E. program comprises five steps which can become your standard response to anxious thoughts and sensations.

  1. G stands for Greet.  Greet the anxious sensations when they arise.  They are not the real you, but rather are generated by a part of you that is like a misguided child or unwelcome guest with distracting behaviour.  Greet implies acknowledgement, with the underlying assumption that the sensations will soon be gone.
  2. R stands for Reality Check.  Bring yourself back to the present moment and check what is real.  Flights of fantasy or imagined catastrophes will be nipped in the bud. Don’t imagine what has not happened or is unlikely to happen.
  3. A stands for Accept.  You know the sensations of anxiety are caused by the adrenaline and other chemicals triggered by your fight, flight or freeze responses.  Shaking, shivering, feeling sick – all those sensations and more – are just your body trying to process the stress chemicals you have created.  They will soon pass.  You are safe and sane.  Hang in. Learn to accept yourself.  You do not need to feel ashamed or guilty.
  4. C stands for Centred and Calm.  Take some deeper, slow breaths. Breathe in and out to the count of 6. Slow your thoughts. Affirm to yourself: “I am centred and calm.”
  5. E stands for Engage in life.  The final stage is to immerse yourself in something which takes your attention away from any remaining anxious sensations. Make it something that absorbs your attention, like a funny movie or a physical activity.

If you are living with anxiety and are masking how you actually feel, it’s tiring. That’s why many people who have anxiety are also exhausted. The chemicals that are generated in your brain, affect your body, and this is exhausting. If you live in a highly anxious state, with high cortisol levels and an overloaded adrenal system, you can develop physical and emotional burnout.

When a person struggles with anxiety, there’s not much room left to truly appreciate life. If this is you, then you will feel constantly on alert and worried about what may happen. This is not your fault. Even with a strong spiritual belief, the more primitive parts of our brain can make us feel afraid without a valid reason.

I suggest that you accept that some anxiety may be present, and yet, remind yourself it is not going to take over your day. Accept that some sensations may occur. You may feel weak in the stomach, or have a higher heart rate, or even feel confused. Ask yourself the following question: “So what? What’s the worst thing that can happen to me here?”

Often, the worst-case scenario is not life-threatening or even life-changing. Many people who experience anxiety become afraid to make decisions, even when the worst possible (and highly unlikely) consequences are small, in the larger picture of their lives.

It is possible to live a life that is anxiety free, or mainly anxiety free. I want to give you hope for that. Having anxiety now is not a life sentence of needing to be miserable, hyper vigilant, fearful, or feeling dread every day. However, to make long lasting positive changes, you need discipline and persistence because you need to form new neural pathways in the brain. These new neural pathways need you to think positively and keep reaffirming those positive thoughts.

If you fall back into the habit of imagining catastrophes or trauma, then you will ‘feed’ your anxious habit and strengthen the old neural pathways you are working to eliminate.

Remember the power of positive self-talk.  Tell yourself, “I’m feeling better today. Today is going to be a good one!”  Once you tackle anxious feelings as soon as they arise, they pass much more easily and quickly than before.

Separate yourself from the anxiety, allow sensations that arise to flow through you without fear, and keep reminding yourself that you are safe and sane. Take slow deep breaths. The sensations of anxiety will pass.

I use meditation to take myself into a centred and calm state. I also know that no matter what happens to me, I will be okay. I truly believe in the eternity of life, and I know that even if my worst fears in this life were realized, it’s a temporary life. My Spirit lives on.

That belief has helped me deal with anxiety in a very positive way.

For a helpful book that teaches the power of positive thinking as well as the GRACE process for managing anxiety, check out my book ‘I’m Positive! Program Your Thoughts and Feelings to Create a Positive Life.’ There are links to 6 free audios to help you with some of the activities within the book.

You’ll find it on my website

Until next time,

Blessings, Michelle Robinson