Maintain Order in Chaos


In a fast changing, seemingly chaotic world right now, it is so important to maintain order within yourself so that you can navigate stressful times with relative ease.

What can you do to maintain structure in your life, what can you focus on that helps keep you motivated and positive as much as possible?

There’s plenty of choice when you look around.

 

Managing Anxiety in Stressful Times


stress-2902537_1280

One of the most important things in working with anxiety is helping people change their relationship with their anxiety.

With any intense emotion, in some ways, it’s important to make friends with it, to tolerate it and recognise that any emotion is a form of communication with your and from yourself. It’s a signal to pay attention, to pay attention to what is this trying to tell me? What is this feeling, this emotion, this anxiety trying to tell me about myself, about my relationships, about the world?

So, I think the first piece of the work is to try making friends with it.
An often useful metaphor is:  A child is laying in the bed and fears the monster under the bed. What does the parent do?

We might always think that it would be a good ideas a parent to turn the light on. Get a torch and look under the bed for the monster rather than sitting on the bed and saying tot he child, “Oh my god, the monster’s there.”

If we sit on the bed and don’t look at the monster, and we don’t say, “Hi, monster. What’s going on?” – then the monster continues to grow bigger and bigger. Yet when we turn the light on and really look at what’s there, it’s then that we can begin to manage how we’re going to deal with the monster if there’s a monster there. And if there is, how are we going to deal with that monster and communicate with it effectively?

Another way of managing anxiety is to find a message and meaning in it. I believe meaning-focused work can be helpful with many issues.

One of the dynamics that present barriers to managing anxiety has to do with focusing on the future or the past, and not being able to stay focused in the present.

If we think about worry, it’s focusing our attention on the future. If we think about rumination, it’s focusing our attention on the past. Worry and rumination both take us out of the present.

So, intervening in ways that help people ground themselves in the present moment can reduce anxiety. That way, we’re not living in the future of worrying what’s going to happen? or living, ruminating the past, playing over and over in our minds some past situation we regret.

danger-4931411_1280

Another metaphor that many people have heard, and is attributed to Cherokee people is the story of the two wolves.

The grandfather is telling his grandson, “There’s a war going on inside of me between two wolves. And one of the wolves is very, very evil and bad and is filled with anger and arrogance and envy and all these negative emotions. And the other wolf inside of me is really good and filled with empathy and love. And the same fight is going on inside of you, my grandson, and going on inside of everyone.”

And the grandfather pauses, and the grandson reflects for a moment and asks the grandfather, “Well, which wolf is going to win?” The grandfather pauses and says, “The wolf that you feed.”

So that idea that it’s what we feed that grows. And if we’re feeding anxiety and fear and anger, if that’s where we’re focusing our attention, then that’s what’s going to get bigger and bigger and bigger. If we feed kindness and love and self-compassion, then that’s what’s going to get bigger.

One of the things that I’ll work with clients on is what their life would look like if they fed the good wolf.

If your energy was put towards feeding the good wolf, what would that entail? What would you need to do differently to nurture and put energy towards those things?

The first one is in relationship to what I was just sharing, and it’s called the FACTS. F-A-C-T-S — Foundational Attention Centering Techniques.

The FACTS are things like meditation, breathing, and visualization. These are strategies to focus attention in different ways. And these are skills that can be learned.

Particularly for people who have a lot of anxiety, being able to ground themselves in the present, in their bodies, in their breathing, and assemble a visualisation or a mantra, is centering and meaningful to people. So, that’s one set of the core four strategies – again: the FACTS, Foundational Attention Centering Techniques.

The next cluster of techniques that I think is helpful for anxiety are the expressive-creative strategies.

We can help people identify whether it’s expressive arts— drawing, painting, finding expression for the turmoil that’s inside. Active creative activities – problem-solving in terms of inventing something or fixing something, where the attention is on using cognitive processes in the service of creativity. Creating arts as well as daily things — fixing a car, working on a car — having those kinds of outlets are creative expressive strategies. Or, physical movement — dance, sports, athletics, things where we are engaging in expression. So that’s the second.

The third is reflection exploration strategies. Another set of techniques for managing anxiety would be, as I mentioned with the other question – journaling, writing, avenues for reflection where we can take a step back and get a little observing self-activated, really ask ourselves questions about, “What am I thinking? What am I feeling?” Self-monitoring. “When do these things come up? What triggers my anxiety?” So the reflection exploration is about getting to know yourself better. Any strategy that can help you be aware of, again, the triggers, to be aware of the thoughts and feelings. That could also involve dialog, talking with someone, having a sounding board for one’s thoughts and feelings. Again, reflection. Reading, learning, reading articles, getting informed — that gives you a stimulus for reflection.

So the first three — the FACTS, the expressive-creative strategies, the reflection exploration strategies. And then the fourth is what I call healthy lifestyle and values congruent self-care.

We’re looking at four areas of turning your attention. And again, all these have a commonality of where we put out attention – turning our attention to healthy habits, healthy relationships, healthy pleasures, and a healthy world.

So, what kind of healthy habits can we develop? The healthy habits that relate to diet, nutrition, and exercise all help with anxiety management. Healthy relationships, healthy pleasures.

So how do you relate to anxiety: you can go down the list of all the ways that you respond once anxiety has come up. One of the first ways you can change your relationship is to change your initial interpretation of what it means that you’re feeling anxious.

Most people’s initial interpretation of anxiety is, something really is wrong, or something really bad is going to happen, or there’s something really wrong with me – I don’t belong here.

And one possible other interpretation is, this anxiety is arising because I care about this; I care about this person; I care about this situation.

There are other possible interpretations: this is a moment that matters, or, anxiety is arising because anxiety is how I do life. I mean, there’s a lot of different interpretations you could have. But that’s one relationship you can change: that very first thing you say to yourself about what you believe it means. You can also change your habits of behavior, which is the sort of non-avoidance; if you know that, when you feel anxious, the first thing you do is you try to escape it by avoiding the cause of the anxiety – maybe you start to work on that behavior if that happens. Maybe you notice, when that’s not possible, you try to numb what you’re feeling with a drink or with food; maybe you start to change that habit.

You can also change your relationship to your anxious self. You can have more compassion for the part of you who is anxious rather than feel like if you were the right kind of person, you wouldn’t have anxiety; there’s something wrong with you; there’s something wrong with your brain – that sort of broken brain model of anxiety. You can also develop different brakes for the anxiety.

So, what do you do when the anxiety feels like it’s spiraling out of control?

cyclone-2100663_1280

Most people’s attempts to break it are avoidance, or control coping – where people have rituals where, if they do something, they can make themselves feel better. In dysfunctional anxiety, often people are insensitive to safety or support to you – so something that you can change your relationship to is, when you’re trying to put a brake on the anxiety spiralling out of control, you can maybe think about attending to safety cues or support cues: In this moment, are you safe? Are you breathing? Who supports you? Who cares about you?

The resources that I know we’re going to talk about – that there are a lot of other things you can use as brakes to the system spiralling out of control. So those are all things that I would consider part of your relationship to anxiety.

The great thing, as we’ve been talking about, is, when you change these things, you really do change your experience of anxiety – and sometimes the anxiety goes away, sometimes it doesn’t. But you have so much more freedom and flexibility in response to the anxiety and having the choice in how you respond to your anxiety is a key art of relieving it to some degree.

 

 

References:

Four Core Strategies to Neutralize Stress and Anxiety

Shelly Harrell, PhD, Kelly McGonigal, PhD, Rick Hanson, PhD and Ruth Buczynski, PhD

NICABM

Collaboration and Sharing Knowledge


It has been a very busy 18 months and the hard work is definitely paying off. The funny thing is, as the incredible golfer Gary Player was famously quoted as saying, the more you practice the luckier you get, it is so true.

Persistence, focus and determination to succeed, along with the adaptability to changing circumstance because, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy”, are essential elements in staying on the right path to fulfil your aims in life.

I have worked extremely hard, along with my friend and cofounder of Icarus, David Bellamy, to develop a system that provides immediate access to mental health treatment for veterans and all UK uniformed services. It is designed to help from crisis point right through to being self sustaining again, and to work with GP’s and other mental health professionals, as well as other organisations and charities to access practical help that they need.

This spirit of collaboration and sharing knowledge is fundamental in helping not just other people but also ourselves. This is why when I was approached by the marvellous Samantha Field at Field & Field to join her and Dr Iain McGilchrist at their 4 day event in June, The Divided Brain, to present my work based around the Immediate Care Process that we use at Icarus to work with those at crisis point I absolutely jumped at the chance.

This is a fantastic event filled with leaders in their fields of expertise and incredible to see how their work links in with Iain McGilchrist’s in how each hemisphere is responsible in different ways for different elements of who and how we are. He has shaken up old theories and created deep discussion and understanding and this is why it is such a fascinating event to be part of.

I will be running a 1.5 hour workshop on Sunday 9th June. If you have not heard of this event and want to know more the link is below, I highly recommend you take a look and if you have the time to attend it will be well worth booking your place sooner rather than later.

http://www.field-field.com/courses/iain-mcgilchrist-exploring-the-divided-brain/

Hope to see you there.

Simon

Urgent Request for Assisstance From Icarus Online


There is and urgent and very serious case that Icarus is working on with Help a Squaddie, please read, share and help in whatever way you can.

Thank you

https://icarusonline.net/urgent-request-for-financial-support-for-a-royal-marine-veteran/

ICARUS Online


File 24-04-2018, 14 59 03

I wanted to share a link to an update from ICARUS Online, the non profit organisation I set up this January with my freind and colleague David Bellamy.

It is gaining momentum really fast and we are helping more and more people, and more and more people are helping us which is awesome. It’s all about teamwork and really positive and powerful collaboration to get things done.

So here’s the link to the website and another directly to the blog post.

https://icarusonline.net/icarus-online-supported-by-scottish-fire-rescue-service/

https://icarusonline.net

Simon

Mind-Matters Podcast Series #4: Judith Hammond


This episode is a conversation with Judith Hammond who I first met in 2013 as we were on the same NLP Trainers course. Judith tals about being abused by her mother physically, mentally, verbally and psychologically/emotionally.

Judith explains how this conditioned her through her life and how she coped with this and work place bullying, abusive relationships and always managing to find the reserves to be there for her own kids despite all this.

It’s a deep and emotional conversation full of amazing insight into her life and how she has dealt with traumatic experiences. I have no doubt that like me, you will gain so much from it.

If you enjoyed listening to this episode and the others then please share them with your friends, family, colleagues and leave your thoughts and comments and your own experiences.

 

 

ICARUS Online in the News


At the beginning of the week I was interviewed by a journalist from my local paper the Press and Jornal and talked about the work that me and David Bellamy are doing to help bring change to the military charities sector and also to speed up access to treatment for veterans, uniformed services & their immediate families.

Have a read and please share.

Thanks

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeenshire/1438690/turriff-based-ex-marine-sets-up-new-helpline-for-former-military-personnel/

Mind-Matters Series Video #10: Refresh Your Mind & Body


This is a short video about refreshing your mind by moving your body. It’s based on the simple principle off doing something positive for yourself when you feel good and making it a habit, because when it becomes a habit, it makes it much easier and more natural do something positive for yourself when you feel negative or unwell.

Get started today no matter how you feel and begin to make your new habit.

 

Mind-Matters Podcast #2: Tamsin Astor


This week started with an interview for my Mind-Matters Podcast and in this second epsiode I talk to Tamsin Astor PhD who talks about dealing with her youngest son being diagnosed at the age of just 2 with Burkitt’s Lymphoma, whihc is a cancer of the lymphatic system.

She talks about the struggle to get her concerns heard and recognised by the doctors, hearing the diagnisis and dealing with the whole treatment process and being strong for her son, her family and herself.

She talks later about her divorce and how now, ten years on her son is clear and healthy and how they are planning a ten year celebration of him being clear.

It’s a highly emotive story, hugely inspirational and I hope you get as much from it as I have.

You can find out more about Tamsin by going to her website www.tamsinastor.com

Click on the link below to go to the Podcast and click on episode 2 to hear the interview with Tamsin.

Enjoy

Mind-Matters Podcast

ICARUS: Please Help to Share Who We Are and What We Do


This is just a quick post to ask all of my wonderful 10,477 followers who will see this messsage to please click the link below and click Like on the new Facebook page for the not for profit organisation that I have set up with my friend and colleague David Bellamy.

It will make a massive difference for us to have every one of you liking and sharing our page as it will help us achieve our aim of helping as many people as possible in the UK’s uniformed services that are struggling with mental health concerns and don’t know where to turn, have been dropped by other providers or even turned away. Sadly yes this does happen.

So please help us by hitting over 10K likes and just imagine how many people we can reach if you all share the page too, mind blowing possibilities.

Thanks for reading and helping us make a huge difference for so many people that need what we do.

Click below and make a difference

Icarus Online Facebook Page

Simon