Mind Strengths 7 Top Strategies for Anxiety Relief
I work with many clients who suffer with anxiety, so I thought it be useful to share my Top 7 Strategies for Anxiety Relief.
Worrying can be helpful when it encourages you to take action and solve a problem. But if you’re preoccupied with “what if’s” and disasterising the worst case scenarios, worry becomes a problem of its own and can manifest into Anxiety. Those unrelenting doubts and fears can be paralysing. Negative thoughts can sap your emotional energy, send your anxiety levels soaring and interfere with your daily life. But chronic worrying is a mental habit that can be broken. You can train your brain to stay calm and look at life from a more balanced, less fearful perspective. Here are a few useful tips.
Tip 1: Create a “worry period”
Choose a set time and place for worrying. It should be the same every day (e.g. in the living room from 7:00pm to 7:10pm) and early enough that it won’t make you anxious right before bedtime. During your worry period, you’re allowed to worry about whatever’s on your mind. The rest of the day, however, is a worry free zone.
Tip 2: Ask yourself if the problem is solvable
Running over the problem in your head distracts you from your emotions and makes you feel like you’re getting something accomplished. But worrying and problem solving are two very different things. Problem solving involves evaluating a situation, coming up with concrete steps for dealing with it and then putting the plan into action. Worrying, on the other hand, rarely leads to solutions.
Tip 3: Accept uncertainty
The inability to tolerate uncertainty plays a huge role in anxiety and worry. Chronic worriers can’t stand doubt or unpredictability. They need to know with 100 percent certainty what’s going to happen. Worrying is seen as a way to predict what the future has in store, a way to prevent unpleasant surprises and control the outcome. The problem is it doesn’t work.
Tip 4: Challenge anxious thoughts
If you suffer from chronic anxiety and worries, chances are you look at the world in ways that make it seem more dangerous than it really is. For example, you may overestimate the possibility that things will turn out badly, jump immediately to worst case scenarios, or treat every negative thought as if it were fact. You may also discredit your own ability to handle life’s problems, assuming you’ll fall apart at the first sign of trouble. These irrational, pessimistic attitudes are known as cognitive distortions.
Tip 5: Be aware of how others affect you
How you feel is affected by the company you keep, whether you’re aware of it or not. Studies show that emotions are contagious. We quickly “catch” moods from other people, even from strangers who never speak a word. The people you spend a lot of time with have an even greater impact on your mental state.
Tip 6: Keep a worry diary.
You may not be aware of how people or situations are affecting you. Maybe this is the way it’s always been in your family, or you’ve been dealing with the stress so long that it feels normal. Try keeping a worry diary for a week or so. Every time you start to worry, jot down the thought and what triggered it. Over time, you’ll start to see patterns (ask for a template). And spend less time with people who make you anxious.
Tip 7: Practice mindfulness for Improved Wellbeing
Worrying is usually focused on the future, on what might happen and what you’ll do about it. The centuries old practice of mindfulness can help you break free of your worries by bringing your attention back to the present. In contrast to the previous techniques of challenging your anxious thoughts or postponing them to a worry period, this strategy is based on observing and then letting them go. Together, they can help you identify where your thinking is causing problems, while helping you get in touch with your emotions.
Learning & Development Director
Mind Strengths Ltd