EMDR or exposure? How to realign your alarm bells

During and after a burnout your body's alarm bells can be tuned a little too sensitively. In other words, they go off too quickly, sparking feelings of anxiety. This can be very, very unpleasant yet is nothing to truly worry about. However terrible the feeling, it is not something bad, it is just something that needs to be re-tuned. Today we discuss two ways to do this: exposure and EMDR, so you have a better sense of what to do and which to choose, or even combine the both of them.

When your alarm bells are too finely tuned they go off too quickly. This can lead to panic attacks and other forms of anxiety. Reducing their sensitivity can be done through exposure. Just an example: say your trigger is a busy supermarket or clothing store. Your cortisol levels go up when you can't process what's going on around you, so you start to experience anxiety. If you keep exposing yourself to busy shops, than over time your anxiety will drop until at one point it is gone. This is a very unpleasant yet very effective way to go about reducing anxiety. Prolonged exposure means you might even be able to completely eliminate your trigger forever.

One thing you need to know about exposure is that you shouldn't move too fast. For instance, I've always had a fear of flying. In my high anxiety period I decided to challenge myself and fly to Australia, which meant two flights and almost 24 hours in an airplane. That was simply too much, I hit panic-attack-central basically. Instead it would have been better to built the flight times up over time. The best advice I can give you in these cases is to work with a therapist as well or someone who can coach you through the exposure, so you can built up quicker and more effectively then I did!

Another option is EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), a method that exposes you to a specific trauma in your past through two hour sessions that basically 'reset' your mind. This is done through eye movement direction that allows certain parts of the brain to be accessed and the fears in those parts removed by talking about them while in this 'eye-moving' state. This therapy is highly effective in many cases. The effectiveness does vary though, depending on how specific a trauma or fear is. It is most effective when used to treat the effects of very specific moments of trauma or very specific fears. It can be useful for general anxiety disorders too, but it's results vary per person.

There you have it. Exposure or EMDR are two great ways to deal with anxieties. Both during and after burnout. There are more of course, which we will discuss on these pages, but this might already give you a good nudge into the right direction for recovery.

Take it easy as always,

And love