Dealing with Stress, Phobias & Sleep Problems

by Darran Kenna
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Therapists have for years been charging $100’s for simple techniques in how to deal with stress. These techniques, despite being simple and easy, are extremely effective and should be freely available to everyone.
To deal with stress and anxiety you need to understand what happens inside your body when you get stressed.
There is a gland in your stomach called the adrenal gland, this gland produces adrenaline. You can feel when this adrenaline starts to be produced by a slight discomfort in your stomach. We call this “having butterflies” in our stomach. This adrenaline then moves up your body into to your heart where it causes palpitations as it decides which part of your body needs it the most. This is the Fight-or-Flight Response.
The one place that this Adrenalin is not usually sent to, is the brain, which is important, as the brain usually tells us what to do in a given situation. A situation where the brain turns itself off and lets the body take control, is a time the brain is going to remember. So the next time you are in a similar situation, your brain says to itself “I know what I do now,” and it switches off and produces adrenaline. This is what leads to phobias.
On top of this if you don’t release this adrenaline it will move around your body until it reaches you heart again and causes the same feelings of anxiety and palpitations.

This learned pattern of behavior can easily be combated, by allowing the natural process of the flow of adrenaline to happen, but by changing the effect.

To do this it’s easy:

  • When you feel the adrenaline coursing, imagine it has a color, now imagine that the adrenaline is made of a ribbon of this color.
  • Imagine this colored ribbon collecting in your stomach and rising up towards your heart but instead of letting it cause palpitations, imagine it goes straight past your chest and it leaves your body as you blow it out.
  • Now imagine this colored ribbon collecting on the floor.
  • Keep this going for a minute or two, then in your mind change the color of the ribbon collected on the floor to a nice relaxing, soothing color and start to breath this new color back in to your body.
  • As it goes in let it replace the other bad color, imagine how, as it replaces the other color it fills your stomach with a relaxing soothing feeling. When it has completely replaced the first color you will find that you are no longer producing adrenaline.
Now this may sound like a bit of hippy nonsense, BUT, what you have physically done is instead of allowing the adrenaline to cause your heart to palpitate, you have controlled your breathing to relax yourself. By imagining the colored ribbon you have created a visual image that distracts you from what has caused the anxiety in the first place. You have then used this visualization to suppress the adrenaline back in to your stomach to the point it is no longer being produced.
The key is RELAXATION. You can’t be stressed and relaxed at the same time. Because the thing that is causing you anxiety occupies your mind, you need to fully occupy your brain with something else so that it hasn’t got the chance to think about what is stressing you.

You could also try this:

  • Breathe in and out through your nose.
  • Whilst doing this take a moment to listen how loud your breath actually is.
  • Also feel the cold, air coming in, feel where it goes and where it cools. Notice how it not only feels cold in your nose but seems to cool the bottom of your brain too.
  • Think what color your lovely relaxing breath would be it had a color. Now follow the path of this colorful breath again as you breathe it in.
  • Notice the difference when you breathe out, feel how warm your breath now is, imagine what color this out-breath would be and in your mind see & feel its route as it leaves your body.
  • Notice how when breathing, your body seems to rise up on the in-breath and fall on the out breath.
  • Take a few moments to really listen to and feel you’re your breath going in and out.
  • Hopefully if you were feeling stressed before, your breathing will have become more regular and rhythmic.
  • If not don’t worry, just see how long it takes to fill your lungs up completely and how long it takes to empty them completely. You may be surprised just how long this actually takes and how quickly you normally breath in comparison.
What you have just done is take control of your body again, you have slowed it down by taking slower deeper breaths. You will have also used your auditory, visual, & kinesthetic parts of your brain in a way so that it can’t concentrate on what is causing you anxiety.
You can now either deal with the thing that stressed you or just forget about it and get on with what you have to do.

How to Get to Sleep:

We have all had those troublesome nights when we either can’t fall asleep or we wake up and can’t get back to sleep. You might find that the more you try, the harder it is, and you toss and turn for hours.
The problem with trying to get to sleep is the actual trying. It’s really difficult to make yourself relax because you have to actually work at it.
The best way to do this is to relax your body first…then relax your mind.
Have you ever noticed how when you clench or tighten a muscle and then let it relax, it seems to be more relaxed than before? Well this is a exactly what you need to do to start your relaxation. But if you have any muscle problems, don’t do anything that would damage them more or cause you pain. To start:
  • Concentrate on your feet.
  • Now pull up your toes until you feel the muscles tight and taut. Hold it for a couple of seconds.
  • Let your feet relax and enjoy the feeling of your muscles loosening and lengthening.
  • Now do the same with your calf muscles. Pull them tight and hold for a couple of seconds and then let them relax. Again feel the muscles lengthening and loosening while they relax.
  • Do the same with your thigh muscles.
  • Then your stomach muscles. (This is an area that can hold a lot of stress so allow yourself to enjoy this difference when you relax the muscles.)
  • Tighten and relax your back muscles (if you are able.)
  • Clench your fist for a couple of seconds, but don’t hurt yourself by digging your nails in.
  • Finally, and this might feel a little strange…but scrunch the muscles in your face. Again, this is a part of your body that holds on to stress. As you relax, allow your jaw to settle. This may mean that it falls open slightly.

Now you have relaxed your body you will find it easier to relax your mind, to do this:

  • Imagine you are some where safe and warm. I like to imagine I am at the beach.
  • Imagine it is a lovely, warm, sunny day. You can feel the warmth of the sun on your face, but, there is just a slight breeze that makes it the perfect temperature.
  • Imagine also what you can see.
  • Imagine what you can hear.
  • Think about what you would be able to smell in this idyllic, little dream world you have created.
And that is exactly what you will have created. You will have started your own comfortable little dream which you can now just let develop and take over. Before you know it, you will be off to sleep.
In this exercise you have used each part of your active mind to imagine a relaxing scenario, that is so completely distracting and absorbing, there is no space left for the thing that was occupying your mind to keep you awake.
This is something that you can practice whenever you want to go to sleep. Soon you won’t need to do the muscle exercises and you will just be able to use your mind to distract itself, allowing you to relax.
Darran Kenna
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