Bilateral stimulation with “butterfly embrace” and “reorientation in the present” against overwhelming anxiety
Anxiety: butterfly hug (BLS)
- Despite your fear, try it: sit back comfortably, close your eyes and imagine a situation in which you feel completely comfortable and content. That can be an everyday or holiday situation, or even a fantasy situation.
- Feel this situation with all your senses: What do you see, hear, smell, what time of day or season is it, what body sensations are associated with it…?
- When you feel the situation intensely, cross your arms and start tapping your upper arms alternately right-left.
- Enjoy how the pleasant feeling intensifies and spreads through your body.
- After a short time, please open your eyes again and write down how you experienced it.
Note: Please only perform the butterfly hug for as long as it feels good. If anxiety, negative associations or negative emotions arise, stop the exercise by opening your eyes.
Anxiety: reorientation in the present
It is often unavoidable to be unintentionally “attacked” by fear, bad thoughts, and expectations in stressful situations. In order not to be helplessly at the mercy of this, the following exercise can help.
This exercise is a modification of a technique from trauma therapy (CIPOS: Constant Installation of Present Orientation and Safety). You can thus learn to stay in control when you consciously make contact with fears.
The idea is to close the eyes and only think about the stress (the fear/trauma/apprehension) for short sequences (between three and ten seconds):
- Decide how many seconds (from 3 to 10) you want to think about the challenge.
- Then close your eyes and think of naming your fear or stress (“the possible separation”, “the upcoming surgery”) and then say the agreed seconds (e.g. if you decided four seconds: one … two … three … four),
- Please, open your eyes again.
- The next step is to initiate reorientation in the present by now naming aloud three objects in the room that you see (e.g. the lamp, the floor, the bag).
- That involves reinforcing the perception of the present with brief bilateral stimulation (BLS) by tapping your knees or upper arms alternately right and left even as you say what you perceive.
- Then ask yourself again how many seconds you would now like to think about the burden (this is named again) etc.
This alternation of second confrontation and reorientation in the present occurs three times in a row.
You can use this technique whenever you feel intense anxiety or fear a of loss of control.
Diegelmann, C., Isermann, M., Zimmermann, T.: Therapie-Tools Psychoonkologie. Beltz, Weinheim 2020.