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Getting out of fight/flight response

One of the most common issues clients come in with is chronic stress and feelings of anxiety. Our culture is so busy and overstimulated...we are not designed for it! One of the most effective techniques I've seen for bringing down our level of anxiety is called "Scanning and Orienting", which is basically using your eyes to communicate with your brain and your body that it is safe, which then calms the nervous system.

What you do is look around your environment slowly, with curiosity, including behind you. Sometimes it helps to look for everything you can see of a certain color to have something to focus on. Basically we are telling our bodies, "See, there are no tigers in the room! We are safe." This is something you will see animals do naturally...they don't just stare at the ground in front of them...they are continually scanning. You can see, then, why having our eyes glued to screens for so much of the time could increase our anxiety!

This activity is deceptively simple, but I've seen dramatic shifts in others and myself! In fact, this morning I woke up before 5:00am and couldn't fall back asleep because my mind decided to worry about everything that has ever happened or ever could happen! Finally, I sat up to meditate, but still could not calm my nervous system. Then I remembered Scanning, and in less than a minute my anxiety was gone. I was able to meditate and calm my mind even more, then fall back asleep. I've also had a client calm a panic attack, and my daughter come out of a full-on melt-down with this technique.

Anxiety is such a pervasive problem in our society for kids and adults! If you or someone you love struggles with anxiety, I encourage you to give this a try. It works best if you take time to scan each day...this way you are calming your nervous system on a regular basis, and that can build your overall stress resilience.


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