So here is the amazing thing about your brain,
it’s made to rewire itself all the time.
This is called neuroplasticity.
Scientists used to think that after childhood
our brain was pretty much locked in place,
but now that we have better imaging technology,
we can literally see how the brain changes
depending on how we use it.
So in this video I’m going to talk about one very simple thing
you can do to rewire your brain to be less anxious,
and it is simple, but it’s not easy.
So I’m also going to share three steps you can take to make it happen,
and share ten extra skill you can develop on your own, or with a therapist,
to build up your ability to take control of your anxiety.
And if you would like to learn more in depth information about how treat your anxiety,
I’ve got a course on Udemy that I am working on
called “Rewiring the anxious brain”,
so you can also check out that link in the description.
So, let’s start off with one example of neuroplasticity.
In London the taxi drivers have this super difficult exam
where they have to prepare by memorizing all of the streets
and events and locations in this huge city.
Researchers took images of their brain before they started studying,
and after this two year process
and they were literally able to see
the new neural connections
and the wiring that changed in the brain.
And there’s good evidence that changing how you think,
like going to therapy,
can actually change the structure of your brain
and the types of chemicals that it’s pumping out.
Our brain has an amazing ability
to rewire itself to learn, grow, and heal.
学习 发育 修复的能力非常惊人
So, let’s talk about how to do that with anxiety.
If we want to change how our brain processes anxiety,
we need to understand three principles of anxiety.
Number 1, understand what is anxiety.
Now, this may sound dumb,
because you already know what anxiety feels like,
but what you need to do is to understand your perspective on anxiety.
You need to let go of the idea that anxiety is “bad.”
Anxiety is not inherently bad.
Anxiety is uncomfortable,
some times anxiety is disordered,
sometimes anxiety gets in the way,
but we all experience anxiety
because it is supposed to serve a really important function
To motivate us to avoid real danger.
We’re supposed to feel anxious when standing on a cliff edge,
it helps us be safe.
We’re supposed to feel anxious
when we know we have an important test coming up
because that should motivate us to study.
Anxiety tells us that something is important to us.
Anxiety and excitement are basically
the same chemical reaction in your body
with adrenaline triggering that sympathetic activation
and prepping you for action.
When we look at anxiety as being uncomfortable,
but acceptable and a normal part of life,
suddenly we develop new tools to work with it,
and that includes working with the other type of anxiety.
So, the second thing we need to understand
is we need to understand disordered anxiety.
And this is when anxiety seems to take over your life.
This is anxiety that makes it hard to go to work,
or to enjoy life at all.
And the harder you try to make it go away,
the stronger and stronger it gets.
Now, contrary to popular belief that
anxiety is disordered when it is more severe,
anxiety is actually disordered when one of two things happens.
When, number one,
when you feel endanger when you are actually safe,
and I made a video on this,
it’s called perceived versus actual safety.
For example I worked with a client who was afraid of radiators.
She would feel anxious and sweaty around them
在暖气边时 她会感到焦虑 直冒冷汗
and she couldn’t make herself
go into a room with a radiator in it.
now radiators are not actually dangerous,
but she was having a real, physiological response
to something that was actually safe.
So anxiety can be disordered
when you have a “danger” response in your body,
but you are actually safe.
The second way anxiety can be disordered
is when your anxiety interferes with your ability to function.
This is essentially what determines
if you meet the criteria for
an anxiety disorder diagnosis.
When your anxiety,
or your attempts to avoid anxiety
stop you from effectively facing life.
When this happens you start avoiding school,
or calling in sick to work.
You stop leaving the house, or spending time with friends,
pretty soon your anxiety is taking over your life
and stopping you from doing the things you love.
So lets talk about
what causes anxiety to spiral out of control.
This is called the anxiety cycle.
Every day throughout our day
we have experiences
and we interpret these experiences as either being safe or dangerous.
So let say for example you see a dog.
Now, each person interprets an experience differently,
for some people this would be extincting and fun,
but for some reason you think
“that dog is going to bite me!”
This leads to feelings of fear, anxiety, maybe even panic.
These are uncomfortable feelings
and you may even take them as a sign
that your thoughts are true.
So, you escape, you run away, you get outta there.
因此 为了逃避 你从那里逃走了
And, Nothing bad happens.
So your brain releases this surge of relief,
“Whew! That was close!
The only way I survived was because I ran away.
I could have died!”
And your brain thinks
“I better do that again,
I’m going to make my human to avoid that situation
by increasing their anxiety about it.”
And, vola! your anxiety goes up.
Every single time that we avoid a threat and survive,
our brain thinks, “Let’s do that again.”
So it lays down neural pathways,
this wiring that reinforces that behavior.
And the whole function of emotions
is to motivate us to action,
but that’s a whole other video.
So our brain, because we have convinced it that the dog was a threat,
it takes action into it’s own hands
and it increases you anxiety levels around dogs.
Every time we feel anxiety, and then avoid the situation,
our anxiety level will go up a notch.
So this is principle number three,
avoidance feeds disordered anxiety.
It literally creates overwhelming anxiety.
Now, there are lots of ways to avoid.
There’s running away, and physically avoiding,
but there’s also emotional avoidance,
so if you have social anxiety, you might still go to the party,
but only if you get drunk ahead of time,
or you might be in a relationship, but scared of getting hurt,
so you don’t allow yourself to let the other person into your heart.
you stay emotionally distant, or you protect your self by not committing.
social media, anger, blame, distraction, and even “coping skills,” can be avoidant.
社交媒体 愤怒 责备 分心 甚至“应对技巧”都可以成为回避
Regardless of the type of avoidance,
it increases your anxiety
and even worse, it shrinks down your world.
So with the dog example,
you might start avoiding situations where a dog might be present,
by not going to friend’s homes, or skipping the park.
And your world shrinks,
you miss out on good relationships, or you stop going to parties.
And your world gets more and more constrained.
Avoidance can make your world small and scary and unhappy.
逃避让你的世界变得狭小 可怕 令人不悦
But every time you get anxious and avoid something and survive,
但每次对某事感到焦虑 逃避 之后存活
your brain increases your anxiety in that area.
Now, looking at this cycle,
we have two places where we can intervene.
Where we can stop that anxiety from spiraling out of control.
The first place is with our actions.
When we feel anxiety but we are actually safe,
if we stick with it, if we stay there,
we experience our emotions and sensations with out running away,
and again, if you do this, and you don’t die,
then your brain learns “whew! what a relief!
I guess that not all dogs are dangerous, let’s do that again!”
And it sends out a surge of relief.
This leads to a gradual decrease in anxiety over time,
and a gradual increase in your emotional muscles,
your ability to feel emotions and sensations that are uncomfortable
without needing to escape them all the time.
So you get better at feeling.
As you do this your brain literally lays down new neuro pathways
saying “not all dogs are dangerous,
I don’t need to be anxious around dogs.”
And it literally changes your brain chemistry,
releasing less cortisol and adrenaline and other stress hormones.
This is the most straight forward way
to rewire your brain to have less anxiety.
But, I get it, this is super hard.
If it were easy, you would have already done it.
So I’m going to break it down
into three big steps for you.
Now on a side note,
the second place in this cycle to intervene is with your thoughts.
Changing how you think about the dog.
And this can be a powerful and effective treatment too,
but it can also get really complicated.
And it works best before your anxious, rather than during.
Now I’ll talk about some of the ways you can change your thinking in other videos,
but in this video we’re going to talk about
the most straight forward way to rewire the anxious brain
and that’s through action.
So, how to do it.
There are three steps.
So step one, make an exposure hierarchy.
I’ve made and entire video about this,
but basically you take one thing that scares you
and you break it down into teeny tiny steps,
and you start by courageously facing the easiest one first.
Now this is the part that most people miss.
They jump in too fast and then they panic or the escape
and they never do it again,
and then that fear is reinforced.
So make and exposure hierarchy
and write down as many teeny little steps as you can think of.
Step two, change your rules.
Now, courage doesn’t mean the absence of fear,
but choosing that something is more important that avoiding fear.
In acceptance and commitment therapy, this is called willingness.
Allowing yourself to do something even though it makes you uncomfortable.
If you make a rule for yourself
like I’m going to do this until I get too anxious,
then you brain will be like “cool, let’s do that, then I can escape.”
你的大脑就会想“行 就这样吧 做完就可以溜了”
So it will make you really anxious,
and when we say “I’m going to do this thing
unless it makes me too anxious,”
then we are just inviting anxiety
to make all of our decisions for us.
So when it comes to exposure,
you choose an easier activity to start with
and then you stay with it
and watch yourself for a certain amount of time,
or until your anxiety decreases by half during the exposure.
Now, while you’re facing your anxiety
and practicing your willingness, grounding activities, and self-regulation activities,
this body-up approach to decreasing anxiety can be helpful.
But the most important part is that
you sit with your anxiety for a little while until it decreases,
or at least for a certain set amount of time.
Now, step three.
Do it. Face it.
Go get anxious and see if you survive.
A little spoiler alert here, you will.
So with the dog example,
start be repeatedly imagining yourself interacting with a dog
and you practice every day for ten minutes
until that activity no longer makes you very anxious.
And then you might work with a friend who has a dog
to set up the nest steps.
So you might see a dog through a window
and just stay there and you sit with it and you breath
and you allow your self to relax
and you do this every day for ten minutes
until your anxiety decreases.
And then you practice being in the same room
with a tiny dog on a leash,
and then perhaps touching a tiny dog on a leash
and then petting a tiny dog on a leash
and eventually you are moving up to a bigger dog
and then off a leash
then eventually you get yourself to the point
where you can go to a dog park,
sit down and stay there for thirty minutes.
It’s ok it you feel anxious.
It’s ok if you feel uncomfortable or you sweat, or you shake, or whatever,
如果你感到不适 冒冷汗 发抖等等都没关系
but you just stick with it.
And pretty soon your brain learns
“It’s cool, most dogs are safe, you are ok.”
“挺好的 大多狗狗都很安全 我很好”
And your anxiety will decrease.
Now again, you can do some physiological grounding activities
while in the midst of your anxiety,
but don’t use those as another way to just avoid anxiety.
Use those as a way to practice willingness.
This willingness to feel what you are feeling
and accept it as being normal, natural and ok.
So there’s the simple solution to anxiety.
face your fears and they will decrease.
This may seem too simple, or too impossible, too big of a leap,
这似乎很简单 但不太现实 跨度太大
so therapist have devised a bunch of ways
to break that leap down into a bunch of tiny steps,
a bunch of skills
that you can learn to make it easier.
If you want to go more in depth into that
Let’s do that!
Let’s talk about the more detailed process of how we do this.
The specific skills that help us move from anxiety avoidance
to power over our anxiety.
Because I am trying to cram so much information into this topic,
I’ve decided to split this video up in to two parts.
So check out part two for the ten skills
you can develop to help you face your fears.
Gradual exposure therapy,
which is what I just described,
is a researched backed approach
shown to help reduce anxiety and treat anxiety disorders.
It does this because it literally changes the brain,
rewiring the neuro pathways
and changing the release of chemicals in the brain.
So make sure to check out my part two
with those ten skills to help you face your fears
and if you’d like to learn more in depth information
about how to treat you anxiety,
I’ve got a course on Udemy that I am working on.
It’s call Rewiring the Anxious Brain,
so you can also check out that link in the description.
Now please share this video,
you never know who might benefit from it,
thanks for watching and take care.
So here is the amazing thing about your brain,