The Power of Dead Weight in
Overcoming Anxiety Responses

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Dead Weight is a technique which is used to reduce the body's part of the anxiety response. When we get anxious we tense our muscles at the same time as we start to think anxious thoughts.

As I explained on the pages about overcoming anxiety and the survival instinct, in order to train it that certain warnings it has learnt to give you are no longer required, you must respond to the startle warning by not engaging with it.

4 steps to not joining in with the startle warning

1. Be aware of the startle warning and choose not to go along with it

2. Instead you release the tension in your muscles by going dead weight

3. At the same time you maybe blank your mind for a few seconds


Visualise your Calm Scene for a few seconds

4. You then re-focus your mind onto something that is real in the here and now

This may be something you can hear going on, see others doing, feel - such as the wind on your face - taste or smell. (more about this in the Mindfulness section)

How do I do Dead Weight?

To release the tension in your muscles you simply remember what you used to do as a child if one of your friends tried to pick you up and you didn't want them to succeed.

You'd let all your muscles go heavy and flop as if you were a sack of potatoes...

If for some reason you are unable to imagine this, try this instead.

Imagine you've been all day doing the Christmas shopping. You've walked miles it seems and arrive home laden with heavy bags. You enter the house, go into the room, flop down in a chair and let go of the bags.

The overwhelming relief you then feel usually causes all your tired, aching muscles to relax as you just flop in the chair…  You don't have to do it for more than a couple of seconds.

heavy shopping bags

Why is going Dead Weight helpful?

Your survival instinct is trying to warn you of danger and is preparing you for fight or flight. It does this, among other things, by tensing your muscles ready for action.

If you are deliberately releasing all that muscle tension that your survival instinct is trying to create, it is going to have to rethink things.

If you repeat this behaviour, along with Blanking or Calm Scene, each time you get the startle warning in that situation, the warning will gradually weaken and over time will probably disappear altogether.

Find other Anxiety Zappers

calm scene to control anxiety
blanking thoughts to reduce anxiety
using breath focus to zap anxiety
stopping head conversations to zap anxiety
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  1. Overcoming Anxiety
  2. Self Help
  3. Dead Weight