Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Soothing The Anxious Lover: Calming Your Inner Chicken Little

If you ever feel like your brain itself is housing Chicken Little who is frantically running around chirping, "The sky is falling!" -- your brain's basal ganglia may be set too high. People who startle easily or who work harder calm anxiety may have been born with a basal ganglia that fires a little "hotter" than most. Under stress, or in a crisis, people with imbalanced basal ganglias are more susceptable to post-traumatic-stress, tics, panic attacks or other anxiety disorders. Headaches and upset stomach may occur. They may feel shy or feel nervous in social situations, have a tendency to go to Worst Case Scenarios at the first sign of a problem, and avoid conflict like the plague.

In writing This is Your Brain in Love with Dr. Earl Henslin, I recognized myself in both the Scattered Lover and also this one, The Anxious Lover. Thankfully, I seldom feel overwhelmed by anxious thoughts anymore. I still have them but I don't take them as seriously, and I have tools to help when I get "triggered" and keep myself from spiraling down into a full blown anxiety meltdown,

Here are a few tips gleaned from This is Your Brain in Love that have helped me calm the frightened chickadee within and may also help you!

1. Calm with Carbs.
A banana cut in half lengthwise and smeared with peanut butter, a bowl of cereal with blueberries, yogurt with fruit, a bowl of oatmeal or Malt-0-Meal, pasta or macaroni and cheese, or a bowl of mashed potatoes with a sprinkle of cheese or meat are all soothing and calming to wound-up minds. One couple has a nightly bag of “bedtime” popcorn (light on the butter) and swears it works better than a sleeping pill to make them chill out and get drowsy.

2. Supplements Can Soothe.
High quality products formulated to help relax the brain are sold at many health food stores. Dr. Amen sells two excellent products, NeuroCalm and NueroGaba at http://www.amenclinics.com/
I personally take a product called True Calm by NOW, along with melatonin and magnesium for a restful sleep and peaceful dreams.

3. Try Aroma and Water Therapy.

Take a hot bath with essential oils of lavender, orange, marjoram, and/or chamomile dispersed in the water. Epsom salts allow magnesium to be absorbed through your skin and will relax your muscles and mind. Better yet, light candles and put on soothing music. This is one of my favorite ways to bring calm to an anxious mind.

4. Challenge Your Thoughts.

Because I know I have an automatic tendency to catastrophize, I will now stop the roll of fearful thoughts by asking, "Is that true?" And then, "Is there a less stressful, more positive thought that could be just as true that you can replace that fearful one with?" Memorizing quotes or Bible verses on peace has been helpful in retraining my fearful brain.

How Can You Help Your Anxious Spouse?

1. Distract Them.

Doing anything physical—taking a walk or digging in a garden together—can stop the loop of fearful thoughts. Offer to take your mate to a movie or window shop. Maybe get out a jigsaw puzzle or a Scrabble game. Note what absorbs their mind and gets them away from the worry-loop, and help him redirect his thoughts with a little bit of action.

2. Hug Them Tight.
When your mate is feeling especially anxious, just pulling him or her into your arms for a good long hug can be very comforting. Or lie down on the bed or couch for a full-bodied hug—head to toe. Women, especially, will often calm considerably if you just let her lie in your arms, her head on your chest, and stroke her hair or back.

3. Reassure and Reassure.

You can probably never say enough reassuring words, compliments, or loving phrases to your mate. Most anxious lovers are afraid, at a deep level, that they are not meeting up to expectations or desires. Reassure your spouse of your love, notice and compliment him daily, give him plenty of affection, and let him know he is safe to “exhale” with you. Many anxious lovers have the “love language” of verbal affirmation and touch. Make sure you are giving your spouse love in the way he most feels and needs it

This short post barely skims the surface of what causes, and what calms, an anxious brain. For more information on this, along with specific medications that may be of help, you may want to order one of the two books on the right by clicking the cover. It will take you to the Amazon link.

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