Anxious thoughts can become less scary over time if you know how to ease them. Anxiety and thoughts are linked and bounce off one another.
Have you ever been able to relax after someone suggests you should? It simply cannot be done.
It’s the same with anxiety. Trying to force yourself to calm down is not going to get you very far.
In fact, it’s probably more likely it will get you nowhere.
The idea of being able to come to terms with your anxious feelings is a difficult one to grasp.
Why should you embrace something you fear so much? What would be the benefits of that?
In doing so, you’ll slowly begin to train yourself that the anxious thoughts are not as scary as you mind will lead you to believe.
Let’s take an example out of my book. Sometimes I cannot make it to my Doctor in person, so I organise a Telehealth session over the phone.
If you’ve never done a Telehealth session, it’s pretty easy to explain – the Doctor calls you around the time of your appointment.
My anxiety and thoughts creep in as soon as the clock strikes my appointment time.
UNHELPFUL THOUGHTS VS. BALANCED THOUGHTS
- “Did the Doctor forget to call me?
- “What if I missed the call?
- “What if he doesn’t want to call me?”
- “Do they have my number?”
These are just some of the thoughts that pop into my mind as I start to get anxious over something that ultimately I have no control over.
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This is the part that takes a lot of practice.
If you can begin to start to identify moments of anxious thoughts, you will be able to take a step back and look at them from another perspective.
Try to balance your thoughts much like the examples below in my scenario:
- “My Doctor will call as he has done before”
- “He is likely busy with another patient or running behind”
- “He will call you when he is ready”
“You will start to notice the original anxious thoughts don’t seem as scary.”
The reason for that is because you’ve provided your brain with a reasonable solution to your worries.
In my example it was why the appointment is running behind and how I reduce my anxiety by focussing on my thoughts.
This exercise will work in any scenario.
It is called ‘balancing your thoughts’ and it is one of my recommended exercises to go when unhelpful thoughts begin to dwell on your mind.
Over time it will help anxious thoughts become less scary and easier to deal with.
You might even find it beneficial to write down your worries, and come up with solutions that way.
This is something that I have been doing for quite some time now and has been working a treat.
IT WON’T WORK FOR PANIC ATTACKS
It will not help you in the event of a panic attack, for that you will need to do a breathing exercise that I will discuss in another post.
But if you wish to challenge anxious thoughts, and start to reframe your thinking, this exercise is a very good starting point.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing distress you can reach out to Beyond Blue: Beyond Blue’s support line is available 24/7.
Lifeline: For crisis support, Lifeline provides a 24/7 line, as well as online resources on a range of issues.