Talking Back to Anxiety

Dear Friends,
When we are anxious we tend to get reactive and unfortunately focus on things that only fuel the vicious cycle of anxiety. But you don’t have to fall into anxiety’s ploy. First you can focus on calming the mind and body. Then you can use your cognitive skills to beat it.
When you are anxious or feeling panic coming on try the following:
1. Take Long Relaxing Breaths:
 It’s true that when you take long exhalations you turn on the relaxation response in your body and and mind. You have activated your sophisticated frontal lobe therefore giving yourself the opportunity to think more calmly and logically. It’s helpful to take a normal breath in, pause for 3 seconds, and a long exhalation out. Do this 10 times.
Now, you will have the opportunity to consider options and perspectives that were not present when you were in your reactive fight or flight mind.
2. Distract Yourself:
Get absorbed in something outside yourself. The anxious mind wants you to focus only on your catastrophic thoughts and physical sensations. You are beating it at it’s own game when you choose to focus on something else. You can count objects, listen to music, and engage someone in a conversation.
3. Remind myself that I’m Ok
Notice that most likely you and your loved ones are fundamentally “ok” and “safe” in this very moment. It’s when we time travel to the future, that we begin to worry. Remind yourself of the present reality.
4.Practice Mindfullness
This is present moment awareness. Bring your attention to the here and now. Start with your sensations. Sound, what different sounds do you hear, close by and further away? Feel, what do you notice, what can feel on your skin? Can you notice what you’re sitting on? Sight, really look and observe the sights sound you, their shape, object by object. Smell, what scents are present? Taste, can you be mindful when you’re drinking or eating? Mindful eating can be lovely. Really notice the texture, taste, flavors of the food. Put your fork down between bites. You may enjoy the food more than ever as you bring your attention to these sensations.
5.Talking Back
Now that you are in a calmer space, what is your catastrophic thought? Learn to talk back to the anxious thoughts that usually go unchallenged.
Anxiety hopes that you will just take these anxious thoughts at face value and run with them. The thoughts begin to lose their power when you look at them directly and begin to engage them with logical questions!
You can remind yourself of the following statements and ask yourself some of these questions to begin to put logical holes into their arguments.
1. Remind yourself that the current event is TEMPORARY.
Anxiety wants to convince you that these feelings of discomfort will last forever. Even when we don’t know how long things will last, most things come to an end.
2.Remind yourself of past events similar and worse than this one that you were able to get through.
Anxiety wants to convince you that you don’t have the skills and ability to handle life and it’s events.
3. Remind yourself of the CONTROL you have over the situation. What skills, resources, social support, spiritual beliefs, or escape hatches do you have that you can turn to?
Anxiety wants you to think that you are alone and have no one or thing to depend on.
My clients find it helpful to keep these reminders an on index card that they can carry with them in a pocket or purse.
If you would like to learn more about mastering your emotions versus letting your emotions master you, please feel free to call me for a 15 minute complementary phone consultation.

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