I’ve realised that almost all severe anxiety starts out small and then gradually builds up until it’s unbearable or until it causes a panic attack.
But there’s a way to stop that original small anxiety while it’s still small, and when you can do that it never has to become unbearable and it never has to cause panic attacks.
I’m going to show how to stop your anxiety while it’s still small by using a technique that interrupts some bad habits you’ve developed that are causing a lot of your anxiety.
When you learn this technique and you use it regularly, you’ll find that you have the power to control your anxiety well enough that it never has to get out of hand or lead to severe anxiety or panic attacks.
The technique is simple and it’s all about getting you to stop the small, physical habits you automatically perform when you’re anxious. These habits cause the small anxiety to become big anxiety, so when you know how to stop these habits, you’ll also know how to stop the anxiety getting out of hand.
Your Body Controls Your Mind
You’re probably already aware that your mind and body are linked in some very basic ways. Your emotions and your physical self are very closely linked.
If you’re incredibly happy, for example, you’ll automatically smile, stand tall, your head will be up, and you’ll do all that without thinking about it. It’s just what you do when you’re happy.
If you’re very anxious, your head will sink, you’ll fidget, your mouth will tighten, you’ll bite your lip, and again, all this will happen automatically without you doing anything.
As you may already know, you can reverse this process.
Instead of you feeling an emotion first and your body reacting second, you can intentionally change your body first and the emotion will change second.
One of the reasons this works is that your mind has become trained to feel a certain way when your body is in certain positions or performing certain movements. It’s kind of like an emotional reflex.
All your life, when you feel happy you smile and stand tall. The emotion becomes so linked to the physical actions of smiling and standing tall that if you smile and stand tall anytime you can often make yourself feel happy.
There’s a good chance you know all this already, because a lot of people teach the technique of changing your posture to make yourself feel better. And it works, so I’d suggest you try it if you never have.
But here’s where I took this in another direction.
Shut Off Bad Habits, Shut Off Anxiety
I realised that I had a handful of “physical anxiety habits” I would perform whenever I was feeling worried or anxious. I was completely unaware of most of these habits until I started looking for them.
It suddenly dawned on me that these habits were linked to my anxiety the same way a smile was linked to being happy.
I started to wonder if I could stop my anxiety by stopping the physical anxiety habits I’d developed over the years.
So I tried it. I did my best to immediately stop all the habits I would perform when I got anxious. And after I’d tried doing this for a few days, it suddenly started working. And it worked incredibly well.
The moment I felt worried or anxious I immediately forced myself not to perform any of the habits that I’d normally perform when I was feeling like that.
To begin with, it felt awkward when I did this, because my mind was too jumbled with trying to deal with all the anxiety, plus all this new stuff going on in my head about stopping these habits.
It only started working really well when I simplified the technique, and broke it down into some very basic steps. And it’s those steps that I’m going to share with you now so you can start using this technique right away.
Step 1: Identify Your Habits
To do this, just wait until the next time you’re feeling anxious or worried. Now that you’re paying attention to your body at times of increased anxiety, you’ll find that there are certain movements that you instinctively want to make.
They’re instinctive because for years you’ve been making them when you feel anxiety or worry.
At this stage, don’t try to stop them. Let them happen as naturally as possible so you can see them in full, and see which other physical anxiety habits they lead to.
You’re looking for any movement at all that you make instinctively or automatically when you feel your anxiety increase.
It could be something as small as biting your lip, or something as big as pacing around your living room.
Over the next day or two, take a few notes of the physical anxiety habits you spot. If you have lots, then just make a list of the top 10 biggest ones.
Step 2: Stop Your Worst Habit
It’s very important that you only try stopping one habit at a time. When I tried stopping all mine at once it was too much to think about and the technique didn’t really work.
So start with the habit you felt most compelled to perform when you had increased anxiety.
The next time you feel increased anxiety, you’re not going to let yourself perform this habit. Absolutely refuse to let yourself do it.
If your physical anxiety habit is biting your lip, make it impossible to bite your lip by putting your finger between your teeth. If your habit is pacing around your home, make it impossible to pace around by sitting or lying down. If your habit is biting your nails when you have increased anxiety, make it impossible to bite your nails by sitting on your hands.
There’s no physical anxiety habit that you can’t stop. You can find a way to make anything impossible.
So make it impossible for you to perform your physical anxiety habit, and don’t give in until your anxiety passes or decreases. You’ll find it decreases faster than normal too, because you’re denying yourself of your strongest habit, and your mind is distracted by this new technique.
Step 3: Stop All Your Habits
Stop the rest of your physical anxiety habits one at a time, in exactly the same way you stopped the first one. But don’t move on until you feel in full control of the ones you’ve already stopped.
You’ll find that after a week or two you can stop yourself performing every single physical anxiety habit on your list. And when you can achieve that, you’ve completely removed one of your anxiety’s biggest fuels and you just might end up as relaxed as that lovely little kitten above!
I’ve shown this technique to lots of people, and every single one of them has said it’s helped. For some people, it can completely prevent panic attacks. For others, it dramatically reduces their general day-to-day anxiety.
Until you try this for yourself, you won’t know how helpful it can be, so make sure you actually use this technique. It takes almost no effort, but the results it can give you are potentially huge.
The chance of stopping your panic attacks and your general anxiety has to be worth the 10 minutes it will take you to make your list of physical anxiety habits, so start making that list the moment you next experience any anxiety at all.