Getting The Upper Hand On Anxiety.
When we are anxious we tend to get reactive and unfortunately do things and focus on things that only fuels 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 therefore give your mind the opportunity to think more calmly and logically.
Your mind will have the opportunity to consider options and perspective 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.
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.
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.
4. Ask yourself if this is really DANGEROUS in terms of lasting harm? Compare this to things that are really dangerous.
Anxiety wants to convince you that this is a horror and not just a hassle.
5. Ask what is the worst-case scenario within the realm of reason? Would it really kill you? Would you eventually cope with it?
Anxiety wants to keep the worst-case imagery in your minds eye and not let you see that there are scenes of resolution and peace to come even if the worst did occur.
Keep these pointers in a place that you can easily reference so that you keep your mind strong and resilient. My clients find it quite helpful to put these on an 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 to schedule a session.