At some time you might have had that feeling of vague unease or anxiety without knowing why. Maybe it's a feeling of impending doom or waiting for the other shoe to drop and you're barefoot. Most of us experience it at some time; it's real common before we get out of bed in the morning--call it Morning Dread. I get it sometimes when I'm dragging myself out of bed every morning at 4:30 to go to the gym and all want to do is stay in bed curled up with my wife and dogs. But I just keep telling myself to get up and go anyway, that I'll feel better for doing it. And I do.
Once we get going the feeling goes away because we have other things to focus on, getting the kids ready for school, ourselves ready for work. My clients tell me that once they get moving the feeling goes away. Remember, what we focus on expands.
Anxiety, worry, dread, whatever, can strike at any time or any place. If we focus on the feeling we can get stuck in it or paralyzed. So here's a way to get unstuck and keep moving forward. I call it "CATS, BATS and RATS." My kid clients love it and adults do too because it's simple, fun and easy to remember.
"CATS" is the letter 'C' which stands for "Continue." Keep going. Whatever you're doing, keep doing it, keep moving forward. If we stop and focus on the feeling we get paralyzed.
"BATS" is the letter 'B' or Breathe. Take slow, deep calming breaths. When we get anxious or worried we tend to take short rapid breaths or even hyperventilate. Deep breathing is calming, restores normal breathing and shifts our focus away from the feeling.
Lastly, and probably most important, is:
"RATS", the letter 'R'. Rate the External threat, not the Internal feeling. Is there really a threat, the rattlesnake on the trail,something threatening right now? If there is (more than likely there isn't), how serious is it on a 1-10 scale? If we rate only the feeling, our anxiety will stay high. The anxiety may not totally go away, and that's OK, but we want to be controlling it, not it controlling us. And keep moving forward!
It always amazes me how the simplest and often the goofiest ideas work the best but I hear it over and over from my clients, kids and adults alike, how simple and helpful this is. So try it.
"CATS, BATS and RATS."
Next Time: "THE ROOM OF 1000 DEMONS"