Cognitive learning is about how we think and assess a situation. It may include labeling certain situations as "dangerous" instead of "anxietyprovoking" or "uncomfortable." It also can prime our development of beliefs that not only is our world dangerous, but that our capacity to respond to that danger is inadequate or insufficient. Trauma is also linked to developing anxiety. In particular, surviving or witnessing a traumatic event in childhood has been linked to changes in the brain and the likelihood of developing an anxiety disorder later in life. What we define as trauma varies, and can range from being bitten by a puppy to surviving a war. We also know that these events do not automatically result in anxiety disorders and are not destiny; they just increase the probability of a person developing an anxiety disorder. Many factors can alter your microbiome, encouraging unhealthy microbes to flourish and increasing your chance of weight gain. Poor diet - processed foods are packed with chemicals and preservatives that healthy gut bacteria hate, and lack the fibre they love. It takes just one day of poor eating to change the composition of your microbiome. Artificial sweeteners - studies have shown15 sweeteners can upset and alter your microbiome balance. Painkillers - non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as aspirin and ibuprofen could be playing havoc with your gut bacteria.16 Antibiotics - these disrupt your gut bacteria which can take months to return to normal.17 Excessive drinking - this puts pressure on the liver, which disturbs gut bacteria balance.18 Stress - our microbiome has a role in how we feel,19 and stress can disturb gut bacteria balance.20 (A healthy and diverse microbiome can help you cope with stress.) A need for comfort can drive what we chose to eat. As children, food is often provided as a source of comfort, even when we're not hungry (the biscuit to stem the tears when we fall over, the sweetie tin at Granny's house) and throughout our lives we will find ourselves in situations where food is clearly associated with love, comfort and security. This helps explain why attempts to restrict it through diets can be so difficult. For instance, the careful planning and preparation of a meal is so often viewed as an expression of love. The ability to provide the gift of food can be very important in terms of identity.Adult colouring has become hugely popular because it is both fun to do and is an easy way to unwind. When you colour, you become wrapped up in what you are doing, and your mind disengages from repetitive or unhelpful thoughts. Try this simple exercise to get started. Find a quiet and comfortable place to colour, and get all your colouring pens or pencils ready. Try the colouring that follows. You can take a photocopy if you like, or you can colour directly into the article (put a piece of paper behind the page if you are using felt pens or markers, so they do not bleed through).

Work at your own pace - there is no rush - and don't feel that you have to finish the colouring all in one go. Many colourists take a few days to do one design. Any time you like! Colouring can be an enjoyable hobby, or you can use it to help you to manage feelings of anxiety or stress. It's a great activity to do in the evening, to soothe the mind into a relaxed state for sleep. Choose a very gentle alarm, perhaps using your phone. It isn't pleasant to be hauled out of relaxation by an aggressive sound. Personally, I like the sounds of the rainforest or the sea; choose something that makes you smile or something that generates a positive old memory. Choose a technique to practise and read the directions a few times before settling down into a comfortable position, lying down or sitting, whatever feels best to you. Make sure that you will not be interrupted. Start with five minutes, build up to seven and then 10. Anything longer than 10 minutes might make you too groggy for your practice. However, you could practise again after your exercises for as long as you like and also independently of the exercises. Bring your attention to deepening and smoothing out the breath. Observe the path of the breath as it travels IN through the nose, down through the lungs and then into the belly. Allow the belly to softly rise. Observe the path of the breath as it travels OUT of the body, from the belly, through the lungs and then out through the nose. Keep your attention on the breath, but allow your whole body to soften and release as the breath slows and deepens. If your mind starts to drift away from the breath and the sense of release in your body, acknowledge the thought without judgment, and then gently bring the attention back to the task of relaxation. Children often tend to associate this caregiving with the food provided.

That's a good thing, right? But sometimes, in some people, feelings of comfort and security can become indistinguishable from food and eating. The first step involves understanding anxiety and panic symptoms and their cycle. Next, we dismantle myths about panic and anxiety. Finally, we look at how we unintentionally increase our anxiety through our various attempts to control it. Understanding anxiety allows you to approach your treatment from a place of knowledge rather than fear. It includes building awareness about your symptoms and how to address them. Armed with this knowledge, you will be better able to gauge which attempts at anxiety reduction work and which make it worse. In my consultation room, often the first time that I see relief on a client's face is when they come to understand their symptoms. I will always remember my session with Joe; he was visibly nervous after having been referred to a therapist following two visits to the emergency room. Both visits were prompted by a feeling that he was about to have a heart attack - but after thorough physical examinations, each lasting several hours, he was medically cleared and told he was having panic attacks. Let me be clear, that is all Joe was told. He was then referred to a therapist and that is how he found himself sitting in front of me, not really sure what a panic attack was. I would love to say that Joe's story is an exception - it is not. Emergency rooms are busy places, and many people leave with no information about what their symptoms mean. As soon as I took some time to explain to Joe exactly what was happening to his body when he was having a panic attack, he became visibly relaxed. This understanding alone led him to feel much better about his situation and reduced his stress level immensely. From weddings to funerals, many of us see food as either a pacifier or a necessary part of our experience. Either way, in our culture, we often associate happiness with eating. Romantic relationships are often punctuated by going out for a meal, the candlelit dinner for two which can be viewed as part of dating/courtship and food, especially rich, decadent food, can be closely entwined with the pleasure of sexual relationships.

On top of this, our brain finds certain food just plain comforting. Some (usually unhealthy) food can have a drug-like impact on the reward systems of the brain.22 That's because the brain is hard-wired for survival, so any behaviour that increases our chances of survival is likely to trigger a reward or pleasure system, instigating the release of a brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine makes us feel good, so anything that triggers its release will feel rewarding to us, and we will - almost unconsciously - feel compelled to repeat the behaviour to get that pleasurable feeling again. It is not that different to drug addiction.23 However, it is possible to have `too much of a good thing' and problems can occur when the brain senses that too much dopamine has been released. It will helpfully surge into action, either eliminating dopamine receptors or sending out instructions to reduce the production of dopamine. This might be good for the brain because neurochemical balance is regained, but it means you'll need more of that rewarding substance (whether it is a drug or a doughnut) to get the same dopamine hit. And if you don't get that hit, you might find yourself experiencing a range of unpleasant feelings - which is effectively dopamine withdrawal. Rewards (whether that's positive feedback or the buzz from a chocolate biscuit) and punishments (including negative feedback or the feelings of withdrawal when the packet of biscuits is empty) are powerful drivers of behaviour. One of the most straightforward ways to feel calmer and happier is to look after yourself. Emotional brain training and cognitive behavioural therapy both promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, because the first step to achieving a greater sense of calm is often to meet your physical needs. But the busier we get, the harder we find it to take the time to eat well, do the right amount of exercise and get enough sleep. A healthy lifestyle doesn't require working out like a demon or going on a raw-food diet - it means connecting with your body's needs, moment by moment, and developing good habits to replace the bad. It's long been proven that a nutritious diet and regular exercise can help to balance mood and reduce stress. This article offers a range of techniques designed to help you rebalance your attitude to food, overcome any reluctance to do health-giving exercise and develop a kinder, more loving attitude towards yourself. If you tend to eat on the run or in front of the TV, try this exercise. Eating mindfully is essentially the process of focusing intently on how and what we are eating while savouring every moment of the experience. When we eat consciously, we enjoy our food more and we get the added benefit of staying calm. Mindful eating can help transform our relationship with food, which can often be a source of stress. Once a day. Eating mindfully is a great way to avoid overeating or binge eating; it makes you much more aware of the size of your portions and slows down your eating, so that you notice when you are satisfied.

Make a point of eating your meals and snacks at a table rather than on the sofa or standing up at a worktop. It can help to have a short ritual before eating - saying a simple prayer or taking two deep breaths to allow yourself to mentally arrive. Exercise can be a great calming technique, but it can also be the last thing we feel like doing when we are tired or overwhelmed. In emotional brain training, we use inspiration and joy to counter resistance to positive change. Try these four ways to make the workout seem more appealing. Get the clothes. If you feel good in your fitness gear, you'll be more likely to get out there. Make a soundtrack. Listening to music that you love will help to make exercising a treat that you look forward to. Join a group. Whether you want to run, bowl, swim, dance or hike, it is more fun if you are doing it with other like-minded people; you are also more likely to turn up if you have an exercise buddy. Set a goal. Try doing a charity walk, or run a mile or swim 20 lengths - an attainable target can be a great motivator. You can make your aim public, or keep it to yourself. It's up to you. Aim to do everything on this list at least once over the next month. You'll see your attitude to exercise change for the better, and others will see a calmer you. After relaxing the breath, bring your attention to a sense of heaviness and warmth in your right hand and right arm. Notice everything about your right hand and arm. Notice how calm it feels.