How to Achieve Instant Relaxation

22 Apr 2007

How to Achieve Instant Relaxation

(Or any other useful state)

One of the key ingredients for a successful life is being able to manage your emotional state; to be in the right frame of mind, be in tune with yourself, and feeling the way you want to feel in any given situation. Sometimes it would be great to have instant relaxation! And now – you can!

Instant relaxation

Your emotional state is under your control

You’ve probably met people who believe that other people, problems, circumstances or the environment cause them to feel a certain way. But you know that you control your own state. I’m not saying that it’s always totally easy, but how useful would it be to be able to change your state so that you could, for example have instant relaxation at the dentist, or confidence when talking to your boss or in an interview?

What about having focused attention when working on a key project?

Ta Dah! Introducing Anchoring

An easy way to achieve a great state is through a simple technique known in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) as anchoring. Anchoring is a process that occurs naturally in all our daily lives. Something – usually external to you – causes a sensory or feeling reaction.

Here are some examples

Simple examples are: Hearing a favourite song or tune that evokes feelings of romance, memories of a previous or current love. You know the one? The one you have the same automatic reaction to, every time you hear it? Smelling popcorn might remind you of the last movie your saw. Seeing a photo will bring back all the memories of the time the photo was taken. In fact that’s why we take photos — they’re a way of encapsulating memories, including the feelings that were present at the time.

Advertisers use anchoring

Words themselves can be powerful anchors too, especially when linked with visual and/or auditory suggestions. By watching images, hearing words and music together with seeing a product, we associate one with the other. When we experience them together more than once, we become anchored – and this is how advertisers convince us to buy their products.

How would it be if you could anchor yourself into a resourceful state, such as being relaxed, as easily as you’re anchored into remembering a brand name? Might be useful?

OK here’s something for you to try out for yourself.

Let’s anchor a state for instant relaxation

We’re going to use a physical anchor of pressing the thumb and middle finger of your non-dominant hand together (not just yet though!). So, if you’re left handed you’ll use the thumb and middle finger of your right hand, and if you’re right handed you’ll use your left thumb and finger.

If you’re ambidextrous, just pick either hand. When we’ve finished the exercise it will mean that whenever you want to feel instant relaxation, you’ll simply make the same gesture (pressing your thumb and finger together) and the feeling of relaxation will return.

Ok, ready?

Here’s what you do:

When you go to bed tonight, just as you’re in that deeply relaxed state, press your thumb and finger together for 10-15 seconds. You might add a word anchor as well such as ‘relax’ in a soothing tone of voice. You can do this inside your head or out loud. Continue every night for a week. That’s all there is to it!

Using the anchor

When you want to feel relaxed – perhaps in some less than comfortable situation – you can press your thumb and finger together in the same way, repeat the anchor word in that same tone of voice and all the feelings of relaxation will flood back into your body.

Things to watch out for when you’re setting up your anchor:

1. You must be properly in the relaxed state when you make the initial gesture.
If you press your thumb and finger together while you’re still thinking about all the things that have happened during the day, or the tasks you have to do the following day, it means that you’re not fully relaxed. Setting the anchor at this point will be less than useful and will only bring back the state you were in when you set it. So make sure you’re fully relaxed first.

2. The gesture you use should be unique.
Pressing the thumb and middle finger of your non-dominant hand together is a unique gesture. This will ensure that you don’t trigger the state by accident and at an inappropriate time.

3. You must be able to repeat the gesture when you need it.
Pressing your thumb and finger together is easy to repeat in exactly the same way when you want to feel relaxed. It has the added advantage of being something you can do without others noticing. It is possible to set anchors on other parts of your body. For example you could press on your kneecap. However, it’s important to remember where you might want to use your relaxation anchor in the future.

It might be OK to press your kneecap if you’re sitting down but it might not look so elegant if you’re standing or walking!

Remember you have use the anchor in exactly the same way for the relaxation response to be triggered. If you press a different place it won’t work.

An auditory example
As an auditory example of this, think back to the song that evokes that feeling of romance or love. When you hear a different version of that song, perhaps sung by another singer, it just doesn’t have the same impact does it?

4. Timeliness is important
In setting an anchor for instant relaxation it’s important that you are relaxed when you set it. That’s why it’s best you set it when you’re fully relaxed at night. Hold it for 10-15 seconds, then let go and allow yourself to drift off to sleep.

Other ways to use anchoring

Try setting an anchor for other feeling states such as confidence:
a) Select a unique anchor (try pressing a knuckle for example)
b) Think back to a time when you felt confident and then imagine stepping into your body at that time and notice:

  • What you could see at that time.
  • What you could hear.
  • How it felt in your body, (You may want to adjust your posture to reflect that feeling of confidence)
  • If there were any tastes or smells present and
  • What you said to yourself when you had that confidence and how your voice sounded when you spoke out loud.

Checking in with each of your senses in this way, will make the feeling stronger.

Then just anchor it with your chosen gesture, releasing it once the feeling peaks.

Make it more Powerful

You can make your anchor more powerful by ‘stacking’ it. How do you do this? In future when you notice yourself feeling confident, go ahead and anchor your confident state at the time, on the same anchor you created previously. Then anytime you want to access confidence all you’ll have to do is duplicate the gesture and all the feelings of confidence will come flooding back!

Look out for anchors

Now that you’re aware of anchors you’ll be able to notice lots of anchors in the world. Watch basketball players, ‘high five’ each other before and during a game. They may not realise it but they’re triggering the powerful feelings and emotions necessary to play with confidence and passion that they anchored at the end of their last winning game.

If you have pets or children it’s interesting to observe what they’re anchored to. My dog only has to hear the clatter of the cover of the dairy compartment in the fridge (where the cheese is kept!) and he appears – as if by magic! In fact anchoring is a great way to teach your pets to do tricks – but that’s a whole new article.

How long do anchors last?

And I’m often asked about how long anchors last. To satisfy your curiosity, think back again to that song; how long ago did you first hear it? Whether it was 5 or 50 years ago it obviously has the same impact today and will probably continue to have that effect for the rest of your life.

Set an anchor for confidence right now You can listen while I take you through the exercise.

You’ll find you’ll get more from the exercise if you’ve read the article above first.

  • Your state is your own business and under your control.
  • Anchoring is a natural process that occurs in many areas of life.
  • You can create a great feeling state using an anchor.
  • There are four keys to ensuring success with an anchor.
  • Anchors can be positive or not-so-positive.
  • Look out for what people are anchored to.
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