When your brain is stuck in survival mode it can make you really anxious, as your body becomes hyper vigilant and the rational parts of your brain stop working. This makes it harder to think clearly and you are more likely to be convinced of potential dangers. You might notice a racing heart, jumpiness, racing thoughts, sweaty palms and difficulty breathing. These are signs that you are outside your "window of tolerance"!
Your body is keeping you on red alert to try and be helpful and keep you safe, but we need to slowly give it the message that the danger has passed and that it's OK to relax a bit (if the danger has indeed passed). We can do this by challenging the thought processes:
- Assess how real the danger actually is – are we responding to the present situation, or to a situation from our past?
- Develop coping strategies that work for you, and then when you feel anxious, utilise one of your coping strategies that will self-soothe
To get back into their window of tolerance, some people use a technique called “grounding”: doing things that stimulate the senses and therefore remind the brain that it is in the present where it is safe. What else do you think you could do? Take the time to make some notes.