Everyone experiences anxiety. Anxiety is functional in terms of acting as an inner warning system for danger. Anxiety becomes overwhelming when we are fearful of too many possible threats that don’t truly exist in reality for us. The difference between feeling overwhelmed by anxiety and having a good amount of threat-aversion anxiety that is needed to keep us safe, is learning how to watch for what is necessary anxiety and what is unnecessary anxiety. We must catch the anxiety that is unnecessary and replace it with more reality based thinking.
Here are some tips to catching that pesky unrealistic anxiety.
Catch the “What if’s…?” Watch out for thinking too far in advance about what MIGHT happen. Think back to the past, all those times you worried about: “what if it’s a disaster?”, “what if that person thinks I’m stupid”, “what if I fail?”. Did any of these things really happen? Start thinking about your life more closely to what really happens and your anxiety will start to be calmed by the fact that you are worrying about things that aren’t ever going to happen!
Take a deep breath! When your anxiety starts to rev up take three deep breaths. Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. This might sound simple but you will calm the physical impact of the anxiety on your body and make room for being able to mentally get a hold of your thoughts. After taking a deep breath, try step one again. See if you can catch some of the “what if’s…?” now that you are feeling a bit calmer. Also, by paying attention tot he calm affects the breaths have on your body you still start to become aware that physically you can calm your anxiety too. Once you have had some success with the deep breathing, think about what other ways you may be able to physically calm the anxiety.
Hang in there! Here’s the best part, if you push through the anxiety you will most likely come out of it and realize, “I didn’t fail!”, “no one said I was stupid!” or “I did much better than I thought!”. The more you push through the anxiety the more you will get use to overcoming it and start to let this be your new normal. Be proud of yourself each time you choose to push through the anxiety instead of avoid it. You can’t ignore anxiety, you must push through it!
Try these three steps out and keep those thoughts in check!