No one is born with anxiety-related issues, say Nik and Eva Speakman, “it’s not what’s wrong with an individual, it’s what happened to them.”
The Speakmans, become famousThis morning residents, have built an empire helping people overcome disorders including addictions, fears, phobias and eating disorders.
With over 20 years of experience and research, they have curated three of their own therapies to help clients transform their minds for the better. The duo has also trained psychology professors, doctors and masters students at universities in Amsterdam and Utrecht, the Netherlands.
“We help clients move through a timeline of life trauma, understand how each event was perceived, and offer a more positive perspective – to sever the connection to the event (and the fight or flight response) that causes symptoms of anxiety,” the couple told Indy100.
So what exactly is anxiety?
Although anxiety is an unpleasant feeling, the brain is in no way trying to punish or hurt you. “On the contrary, he tries to protect and protect you,” they explained.
Humans all have a primal instinct known as the fight or flight response – it alerts the body to danger.
The Speakmans describe anxiety as an “internal protective response”, which forces adrenaline to flow through the body and causes symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, hyperventilation and the need to go. in the toilet, among many others.
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In most cases, there is no real physical danger, which reduces the fight or flight response to anxiety.
In today’s society, so-called “dangers” are often more psychological, prompting the body to want to protect itself from feelings such as uncertainty, embarrassment, judgment, fear and vulnerability.
Nik and Eva used a smoke detector analogy to contextualize the experience.
“The smoke detector is installed to protect you – so whether it detects smoke from a real fire or smoke from burnt toast, it will activate anyway,” they explained.
“The same can be said of our anxiety and our protective response. Its intention is good, but its sensitivity to being activated depends on our individual prior life experiences and our individual personal interpretations of them.”
Why do people feel anxious?
There has been a long-standing debate around the causes of anxiety. However, the Speakmans believe the main reason is trauma.
Anxiety is quite normal in given contexts. For example, a friend or family member might not be feeling well, so feelings of worry are understandable.
However, problems arise when a person begins to feel triggered in unexpected and random ways.
“Indeed, we are essentially stimulus-response animals,” the couple said. “While we may not know the exact trigger ourselves – we think anxiety is never random, probably triggered by a thought, a feeling, a smell – or something we see, hear, touch or think. This trigger is related to a previous trauma, from somewhere in our life.”
Some adults believe they suffered no obvious trauma, but the Speakmans argue that it may date back to childhood.
“What may not seem traumatic to you now as an adult could have been very traumatic to you as a child, and the fight or flight response attached to the memories and triggers of that childhood trauma,” they said.
“If these past traumas were not addressed, they could potentially lead to what now look like completely random anxiety attacks and therefore potentially be labeled as general anxiety.”
Here are five helpful tips to help you if you’re feeling anxious or preparing for a panic attack:
1. See the situation as it is now and not how it felt then
“Understanding and appreciating that your body is not trying to punish you, but instead trying to protect you – can give you feelings of calm, acceptance and comfort.
“Referring to a panic attack as a ‘protective attack’ is more accurate and may help you feel less anxious and more in control.”
2. Try controlled breathing
“Close your mouth and inhale slowly through your nose for a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Then exhale completely through your mouth for a count of eight.”
3. We’ve found that sighing has a quick calming effect
“If you’re in a safe place where you feel you can close your eyes, then do it. If you’re in public, it can be done with your eyes open.
“Take a deep breath in, then exhale with an exaggerated sigh. Repeat the process and with the second sigh let your shoulders drop. Repeat and with the third sigh let your shoulders drop and imagine yourself sinking back into your seat ( or the floor).”
4. Use your senses to distract your protective response
“Interrupt the development of a panic attack (now better called a protective attack) by practicing the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique.
“Look around and consider five things you can see (really look at colors, texture, depth, etc.), four things you can touch (consider texture, warmth, etc.), three things you you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste.”
5. Practice gratitude daily
“This method can help improve your mood, as can exercise, yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and healthy eating.”
For those who suffer from anxiety, it is important to contact a doctor and discuss a possible referral for talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, or counseling.
The couple suggested that with therapy and “practicing some of the techniques suggested above, spending time with positive people, and making yourself feel loved and appreciated (along with many other positive distractions), you can to improve”.
The Speakmans currently have two remaining workshops across the UK, which you can find out more about here. The new Speakman book, Improve your life, is also available for purchase now.
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