We all get anxious at some time or another. Whether it’s waiting for those exam results, a job interview, dealing with an illness or coping with something difficult or traumatic in our past, there’s plenty to get worried about. Anxiety is part and parcel of life.
There are, however, a number of ways in which you can reduce the impact of anxiety and not let it affect your life.
Don’t Try to Stop Anxious Thoughts
Have you ever tried to stop worrying? It’s a difficult thing to do. You can distract yourself for a moment but then the worry seems to come back even stronger. The reason for this is that trying to stop worrying thoughts forces you to focus on what you are thinking, which means you suddenly become anxious about having the wrong thoughts and before you know it you’re worrying about that thing again.
You can, if you want, postpone your worries, though it takes some practice. This is done by creating a worry period later in the day that allows you to get on with what you are doing better. It works for some but not for others but is worth a try.
Facing Your Worries
Another option is to actually face your worries. Most of us have anxieties that are real (for example, the pressure of work is getting too much) or fantastical (for example, everything is going to end because of terrorism).
A lot will depend on how you see the world. Over-anxious people tend to be more pessimistic and see everything in terms of worst case scenarios. Getting beyond this is not a simple matter of examining your fear and debunking it. Sometimes you need to change the way you think and that’s not easy for most people. If you suffer from prolonged periods of anxiety, then a treatment such as cognitive behaviour therapy can help – it gets you to talk through your anxieties and find solutions for them.
It’s difficult for many people who suffer from being anxious. The world is an unpredictable place and some things you can influence while others you can’t. It’s a difficult thing to process if, up till now, your brain has been geared to worry. Accepting that there are some things you can’t change and coming to terms with that can reduce the anxiety you feel.
One practice that has been shown to help anxiety conditions is mindfulness. Even if it’s something simple like worry over a job interview, a little mindfulness can go a long way. In short, this practice of meditation gets you to look at things more objectively and calmly. It can allow you to stay focused in the present and not worry about the things in the future or fret over the past.
We often get anxious when we are not sleeping well or eating properly. Check out your night time patterns and work towards getting a better night’s sleep. Exercise regularly, even if it’s just a brisk walk at lunchtime and make sure you eat healthily. When we feel better we tend to think better.
If your anxiety is beginning to take over your life and you are constantly worrying, it’s probably about time that you sought out professional help. There should be no embarrassment about this. It’s a mental health condition that many people suffer from and there is plenty of help out there that can make a big difference. And the sooner you reach out, the better you will start to feel.