ME a Stress Case? . . . I Don’t Think So. . . This Anxiety Reduction Technique is for YOU

Self Reflection

I’m not a worrier by nature, I’m not anxiety riddenI teach OTHERS how to relax, how to reduce THEIR tension.

Getting my hair done yesterday – yes, I still have my purple streaksI had nothing better to do than focus on me.  That’s what my hairdresser was doing so I figured I could too.

Whoa! My entire body was tense.

I relaxed my muscles. They tensed up againI relaxed again.  Muscles from head to toe tensed up again as if I were a trained athlete who had practiced over and over until my muscle memory was so strong practice was no longer needed.

Flashing before my eyes was every therapy session I’ve ever had with anyone who had anxiety, PTSD, was a caretaker, had a sick loved one, experienced loss of any kind, anticipated loss, was in pain or had a CHRONIC CONDITION. . . .

I’ve explained “it” so many times that like a well-trained athlete my mind no longer has to think.  I automatically recognize the stress response in others (others being the operant word).

Chronically Running for Our Life

I know that your brain (NOT MINE OF COURSE) chronically perceives danger with any chronic emotional or physical condition.  The body being continually under siege, in pain, sends signals to the brain which get us ready to flee or fight off our enemy.  Muscle tension is needed for running like hell or slugging it out.  Now’s not the time to relax if you want to live.

The opposite of DANGER is SAFETY.

Here’s one of the very best mind-body techniques, and easiest, way to let your brain practice calm.   Best of all it requires no Rx, no money, no time and you take it with you where ever you go. I have taught this hundreds, maybe thousands, of times and it absolutely works (I of course don’t need to do it.  After all I teach it).

Chronically Safe Signal:

1. Take a deep breath through your nose.
2. Hold the breath for just a moment
3. As you release the breath, through your nose, very gently, say silently: “Thank you brain, I’m safe.” (Be kind to your brain.  It’s just trying to keep you from being eaten alive)

Sound too simple!?

Our brains are relatively simple in that brains can not tell the difference between when we are actually in danger (anxiety is our brain’s way of keeping us on alert for danger so we can survive) or when we perceive danger through thoughts or other cues.

Imagine a snake, a spider, anything that you are afraid of. Your brain will signal “danger! danger!” and flood your cells with the neurochemistry of fear. Watch a sad movie and your brain will flood you with the neurochemistry of sadness and, if you are like me, sob like a baby.
Soooooooooo, tell your brain you are safe and it will stop the neurochemistry of fear and anxiety. It’s not instant cup’o’soup because once you are flooded with the anxious feeling it will take about 20 minutes or so for the neurochemistry to metabolize out of your body’s cells.  No matter how you FEEL keep giving your brain the “I’m Safe” cue.

Here’s the Key

Yoga, meditation, mindfulness prayer, listening to relaxation recordings all help.  However, to break into a CHRONIC cycle you need to chronically signal your brain to stop sending the neurochemistry of the stress response to your body. Let your brain know that no one is throwing grenades at you, animals are not trying to eat you alive, you are not in danger.

CHRONICALLY “Sprinkle” the Breath/I’m safe cue throughout the day and evening. It’s a good idea to get a cue(s) to remind yourself to do this. A post-it-note on the bathroom mirror, every time your phone rings, a note in your appointment book etc.

You HAVE to breathe anyway so you’ve got nothing to lose — except your stress response!

Self Realization

I was going to name this post “Teachers Teach What they Need to Learn” but I figured out that I had a legitimate reason to be stressed while my hair was getting done because

my hair dresser had a scissors in one hand

and with the other hand pointed a hair dryer to my head.

2 comments on “ME a Stress Case? . . . I Don’t Think So. . . This Anxiety Reduction Technique is for YOU

  1. No wonder your body was giving you flee or fight; hairdressers and hair salons do this to me all the time. My first trip to a hairdresser was when I was in my 20s and my parents had abadoned me to move to another city, then another country. So, going to the hairdresser was stressful, and reminded me that my parents had left home rather than vice a versa.
    Then, years later, there was the “bad” haircut: I said hair cut, and closed my eyes (I don’t like anything in front of my eyes, hair, bangs, scissors and without my glasses, I can’t clearly see what I look like in the mirror). The stylist heard crewcut, and cut my hair VERY short. I, and my husband were less than happy. Then, friends didn’t remark on the cut which I found strange. That is, until one of my closer friends said, “So, you’re making a political statement and coming out.” “Out of what?” I thought. He meant, that I was announcing to the world I was gay. (It was the 1990s when such things were “in.” Nothing wrong with being gay, I just wasn’t — it was just a bad hair cut.
    Took years of split ends til I ventured to a hair salon again.
    I got back into yearly hair cuts except for the first and now 2nd time I lost a lot of hair. I have (oops had) fine, but thick hair. I shred copious amounts of hair for about 6 months (very embrassing! I in a cloud of shedded hair like pigpen and dirt, or a husky dog in July). So, now it’s been a year and half or more, and what’s left of the old hair is long and split, and I have various lenghths of new hair. So, I’ll have to pospone my flee of fight hour in that torture chair for a while longer. Telling my brain that I’m safe will take more than nose breathing! But thanks for the tip in other situations!


    • Lorraine,
      Actually Telling yourself “I’m Safe” waaaaaaaaaaay before you go to the hair dresser to build in a stimulus-response WILL help. Don’t wait for the anxious moment to say I’m safe — it won’t work as you will already be flooded neurochemically.
      You are experiencing emotional memory with hair cuts. Essentially another stimulus-response — it’s NOT psychological, simply the brain responding to the stimuli. I’m sure just writing about it triggered a stress response.


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