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Step 1 – Relaxation

You may have tried listening to relaxation recordings in the past, probably when your anxiety was high. You probably found that it didn’t work for you. However I am proposing something entirely different: using relaxation recordings to practice the skill like an Olympian would practice their sport.

Think about a concert pianist. They can play Bach with ease. But could they do it when they were six and hadn’t had any piano lessons? Of course not. But at that time, they might have thought it impossible to play the piano. However with practice, practice, practice they eventually learned to play, and then practiced, practiced, practiced every piece they played in public.

This skill is similar but takes much less time. I want you to listen to these recordings (or other similar ones you find on YouTube) 90 times. You heard me. NINETY. Keep a log so you can keep track. You can listen every day for three months, or twice a day for six weeks or ten times a day for nine days. You get the idea. Here are the links. Don’t go on to Step 2 until you have listened at least THIRTY (30) times.

SOARING ©Anna Christie & Miri Lee

BREATH © Anna Christie & Miri Lee

FLOATING © Anna Christie & Miri Lee

15 Minute Relaxation (from “Between Sessions”)

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (audio)

8 Minute Relaxation  (from “Between Sessions”)

Guided Imagery Walk Through the Forest-Audio

Step 2 – Hierarchy building

“Hierarchy” just means a list where some things are higher up (better, harder, etc.) than others. Building a hierarchy is very important for overcoming an anxiety disorder of any kind. Luckily, I’ve done the majority of the work for you in my “Exposure” pages in the Resource section. However, you still need a good list of things in real life that you avoid, or safety behaviours you take. Write out two lists, or type them into Excel or Numbers so you can give each thing a value and sort the lists later. Don’t worry – you can always change the order as you go. Here are some examples of things you may wish to write.

Things I Avoid

  • Restaurants
  • Certain restaurants
  • Movie theatres
  • Church
  • Crowds or large groups of people
  • Parties
  • Public transit (bus, subway)
  • Riding as a passenger in a car
  • Long car trips
  • Eating or cooking chicken
  • Eating seafood
  • Eating oysters
  • Boats
  • Cruise ships
  • Travel by airplane
  • Food from food trucks
  • Food from street vendors (usually Asian countries)
  • Children
  • Schools
  • Nursing Homes
  • Doctor
  • Dentist
  • Hospitals
  • Public Bathrooms
  • Food past the “best before” date
  • Sick people, or their relatives for more than 1 week after they’ve been sick.

My Safety Behaviours

  • Taking my temperature
  • Ginger tea
  • Ginger ____________________
  • Tums
  • Divol
  • Pepto Bismal
  • Gravol or Dramamine
  • Prescription anti-nausea drugs (Ondansetron, Zofran)
  • Peppermint _____________________
  • Sipping water
  • Carrying a plastic bag
  • Carrying a “safety kit” of medicines, etc.
  • Distracting myself with my phone
  • Distracting myself – other
  • Asking for reassurance (will I be sick? Am I ok? Is this ok to eat?)
  • Asking needling questions to others (what was wrong? did you vomit?, etc.)
  • Washing hands more than 10 times/day
  • Washing hands 2-3 times in a row
  • Using hand sanitizer
  • Using cleaning wipes where others would not
  • Cleaning with anti-viral chemicals excessively
  • Mixing bleach greater than 1 Tablespoon per litre (quart)

After you build your hierarchy, and put it in order, keep going with the relaxation exercises.