Shifting your thinking when anxiety strikes can be extremely beneficial. Feelings of anxiety can be extremely overwhelming and uncomfortable. I know this from experiencing them first hand. To put it bluntly, it sucks.
There is good news however. Anxiety is just a feeling, and like all feelings it does eventually pass.
While there is no specific or accurate time frame as every individual is different, it more so depends on how you are able to challenge the thoughts associated with the anxiety.
As scary as anxiety can be sometimes, try and not to force the feelings to stop as this can make it worse. As hard as it can be, try to come to peace with the feeling. That’s not to say you have to just accept the feelings forever, it will just help your brain to slowly learn that these are just passing feelings which in turn will lessen the anxiety over time.
SHIFTING YOUR THINKING WITH MENTAL EXERCISES
There are many exercises that can help when anxiety strikes. What works for me may not work for you, but definitely give this exercise a go. I found it to be one of the best ways to ground my mind when I find myself in an anxious state, especially when I feel like I’m escalating to panic.
This particular exercise is called ‘categories’ and it’s a rather simple task. Essentially you pick a topic and list as many items within that topic as you can in your head or on paper. Which ever works for you. I usually go with three topics like movies, countries and album names.
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The idea of this exercise is that it forces your brain to think about something else and therefore should help in reducing the anxiety you feel.
I’ve done this exercise many times whether it be in my head while on a jog, or in my journal as I write down my thoughts at night. You can easily do this exercise anywhere. It’s why it’s one of my go to exercises to help me calm down.
It works especially well if you incorporate deep breathing while also going through your selected categories.
So the next time you are feeling a little overwhelmed or anxious, I recommend giving this exercise a try. It won’t cure your anxiety completely but when practiced frequently can help you lessen the intensity over time.
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.