Updated: Jun 17, 2019
I often help clients struggling with trauma symptoms like anxiety and panic attacks by teaching them to develop an "anchor". An anchor helps you diminish fear and panic and steady yourself, much like the anchor of a boat. It can combat the feeling you don't want and is created much like a Patronus is in the Harry Potter world. It is based in the psychology of classical conditioning, which is simple stimulus and response training. It's easy to use - play around with the technique and find what works best for you.
First you need to think of a memory. Some time, place or event in your life which has no sorrow or fear connected to it. A time when you were at peace, content and happy. Not giddy happy like on a roller-coaster (we're trying to bring energy down). A content and peaceful happiness is what we are looking for. Try to find a memory that has a lot of sensory information with it; sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches. Asking your brain to activate all five sensory fields requires more areas of the brain to be utilised in reproducing the memory, leaving less of the brain to focus on the trauma, anxiety, panic or fear.
If all of your happy memories are tainted with fear, pain or other negative emotions you might want to use a fantasy instead. Some clients try too hard to do it perfectly, finding a memory which illicits all five senses. However, if you have a more emotionally satisfying memory that only uses three senses and it works to calm you down much better - use it! This is about calming yourself.
People find memories that involve water particularly peaceful. The form of the water doesn't seem to matter, whether it is being sprayed by a waterfall, standing in the rain or sitting by a lake. Water also brings a lot of sensory information with it, so that may be a good place to start. What is most important is that the memory is a beautiful, calm and happy memory for you and that it works to lessen any anxiety.
Once you have your happy memory, move through the 5 senses it evokes one at a time and try to relive them:-
What do you see?
What do you hear?
What do you smell?
What do you taste?
What do you feel (on your skin)?
Now sit with that memory for as long as you like or need to.
When the memory of the desired state is at its strongest, “anchor” it in by making the physical gesture you want to use for that desired state. For example, you might touch your thumb and middle finger on your non-dominant hand together and say to yourself, “I am calm”.
Hold the feeling of the desired state for a moment while you continue to make the anchor gesture, then release the anchor gesture and immediately change your thoughts to something very different.
Repeat this process five to ten times in order to create a strong anchor and do so as often as necessary.
When you think you are finished creating the anchor, be sure to test it by activating the anchor. Make sure that you actually enter the desired state. If it does't seem to be working, try to repeat the anchor-creation process and consider using a different, stronger memory.
Use it whenever you need it to decrease anxiety or help calm you. Change it in whatever way you need to in order for it to be most effective for you.
You can create anchors for different emotional states, such as confidence. Tie each emotional state to a unique anchor and gesture that you can 'fire' when needed.
Authenticity, Balance, Love,