One of the biggest benefits I gained from my years of study and teaching the Alexander Technique is a process to manage my fears when they start to spike.
Alexander Technique tools include a concept called inhibition, which is a conscious skill in managing the intellectual and physical manifestations of fear. It involves multiple ways to increase the influence of the parasympathetic nervous system (sometimes called the rest and digest system, the parasympathetic system conserves energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract) when one is experiencing hyper-arousal due to increased activity in the sympathetic nervous system (The sympathetic nervous system's primary process is to stimulate the body's fight-flight-or-freeze response. It is, however, constantly active at a basic level to maintain homeostasis homeodynamics).
I am weaning myself off of almost all news and social media this week. Bad news means good ratings and high website traffic, which sells ad space - and when I have too many stressors in my life, I get triggered by all that bad news. (I have posted blogs about my constitutional vulnerability to anxiety and depression.) Three days ago I noticed a feeling of anxiousness, like a cold vibration, in my chest and upper abdomen started up. I noticed my mind wandering into dark, hopeless thoughts, and a sense of dread and hopelessness starts rising in my mood. My appetite started to drop off, and I lost energy and enthusiasm for life.
To help this particular episode, I am turning my attention to the things I know support my capacity to balance my mind/body.
I wean myself off caffeine, sugar and add more nutrient dense foods to my diet.
Human contact, with caveats, works really well for me. I need to make sure I don’t have too many triggering conversations, and steer to topics that remind me how amazing this world can be. I focus on the human spirit, rather than the flaws. I remind myself that mortality is a wake up call, I take inventory of all the resources I have access to, and that my basic survival needs are taken care of.
Dancing and singing help…
I work with my inner dialogue and what content I am consuming. I use the tool of inhibition to redirect my attention when I begin sliding into watching or reading content or having inner thoughts that flame the sensations and emotions moving through me.
I don’t try to suppress the feelings, I identify them, and clarify which arise from circumstances and situations that are really happening to me, rather than what I fear MIGHT happen to me. Which are cues from my physiology about what is happening: am I hungry, thirsty, tired, over-caffeinated, having a sugar crash?
I identify which of the things I am concerned about can be addressed through concrete, practical actions. I put a time in my appointment book when I will begin addressing the issue(s) and start mapping out a plan of action.
I look through my calendar for the events and activities coming up that I know are engaging and pleasurable and I practice looking forward to them.
I actively show kindness and humanity to the people in my daily orbit, whether I know them or not.
I make a point of asking for support and love from the people in my life. And I get as specific as I can about what form that support takes.