Struggling with anxiety and runaway thoughts? It’s nearly impossible to redirect our thoughts or focus on something else when anxiety takes over. Calm and peace seem out of reach.
There ARE ways to control those anxious thoughts, though. It just takes a little determination and practice.
Use the techniques below to tackle your anxiety:
Reconsider Your Thoughts
Learn to look at and approach your anxious thoughts differently.
- The key is to reshape the way you think about things.
- When you find yourself feeling anxious and recognize the thoughts that come with it, immediately remind yourself those are simply THOUGHTS–NOT REALITY.
- Labeling your thoughts correctly raises your own self-awareness and makes it easier to control those thoughts. It also begins to give you something else to focus on rather than focusing solely on the stress your thoughts are causing.
Challenge Your Thoughts
When you get an anxious thought, stop and ask yourself these questions:
- Where is your anxiousness coming from? What are you really worried about?
- Are you actually in danger, or is your mind simply trying to convince you of that?
- How likely is the outcome you imagine to materialize? Is it likely your “worst case scenario” will actually become reality?
- How can you turn those negative thoughts into something more positive and constructive?
Your Thoughts Are Information
Sometimes it’s helpful to view your thoughts simply as information. That’s it. Just information.
- You’ll process a lot of information throughout the day. Some of which is simply wrong–and confusing. These are your anxious thoughts.
- You might also interpret that information incorrectly. This means you allow the anxious thoughts to take over and control you. You’re allowing them to grow out of control.
- You are in control of your anxious thoughts, and you CHOOSE how to handle them. Always remember that YOU can make the CHOICE to dismiss and ignore incorrect and unhelpful thoughts.
- It’s also important to keep in mind that your brain is designed to detect danger and is hypersensitive to it. You may be picking up on things that that simply aren’t real.
Focus on the Now
Many anxious thoughts are focused on something that’s already happened or something you fear will happen in the future. Mindfulness–focusing on your current circumstances and environment–will help you refocus your thoughts
- Strive to interrupt your anxious thoughts. Recognize when you’re thinking about the past or future and guide your thoughts back to the present moment.
- Keep in mind that the past won’t necessarily repeat itself. Learn from your mistakes and change how you approach the future.
Anxious thoughts often prevent you from taking action. They drown you in worry and fear. Force yourself to take action–even when you’re scared.
- Consider just one positive action, then do it.
- Taking action can actually decrease the number of anxious thoughts you have on a regular basis. It will remind you that there’s nothing to be afraid of, that you have power, and that you can make a positive changes.
Dismiss Unhelpful Thoughts
Some thoughts are simply unhelpful and serve only to cause stress.
- Learn to recognize your helpful thoughts vs. your unhelpful thoughts.
- Then, begin to filter out the unhelpful ones. If your thoughts aren’t helpful, dismiss them.
- Consider this example: if you know that the odds of making an absolutely perfect presentation at work are not realistic, but you still have to make the presentation, it’s an unhelpful thought.
Your anxious thoughts DO NOT have to control your life. You can use some or all of these tips to take back control of your thoughts when you find yourself worrying. As always, If you continue to struggle, seek help from a counselor or mental health professional. There’s no shame in asking for help!
Share your thoughts: Can you imagine these tips working? Have any other tips to share?