Learn How To Manage Your Anxious Thoughts
Anxiety doesn’t come out of the blue. When you have anxiety attacks, it’s often because your mind tends to spiral into negative thoughts – often without your control. Sometimes you can control this anxiety by keeping these thoughts at bay and learning to dismiss triggers that cause you anxiety.
For many, this is easier said than done. But there are many different strategies you can try that may be effective. These include:
A Question Checklist
When you feel anxious, have a checklist on hand of questions to ask yourself about that anxiety experience. The longer the checklist, the more you’ll find that your thoughts become more realistic. Questions that you can use include:
- Is there a reason to believe something is wrong?
- What evidence is there that something is wrong?
- Is there a chance I’m blowing this out of proportion?
Affirmations not for everyone, but those that do use them find them to be very beneficial. Affirmations are things that you say to yourself to make yourself feel better. These include:
- I’m okay. This is just anxiety and I will get passed this .
- I have a great life and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
- My anxiety won’t control me.
Getting Used to Physical Symptoms
The latter is known as “exposure therapy” and there are countless ways to create exercises that will habituate you to your panic attack triggers.
Why Is Overthinking In Relationships A Big Problem
Now you know some of the significant causes of overthinking. And you also know that its a common occurrence and many people tend to overthink. So, you might be naturally wondering whether it is dangerous and, if it is, why so.
Overthinking can make you feel horrible and affect your mental health. If youre overanalyzing your relationship and your partner, you may start nitpicking. This nitpicking can lead you to find problems where there arent any.
When you overthink, you start inventing issues about your relationship in your head and tend to find more faults with your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, or partner. All in all, you may end up feeling tense and miserable. This self-limiting issue, therefore, can impact your mental health.
See The World Or At Least Your Community
Did you know that travel is scientifically proven to ease anxiety, stress, and depression? Sounds like a perfect excuse to buy that plane ticket and plan a trip to go backpacking in Europe, right?
Traveling can help to give you a new perspective on life. It also gives you something to look forward to, which can be a welcomed distraction from your worries.
To put it simply: a holiday can make you happier. A 2002 study performed by the University of Surrey found that people who know they have a vacation coming up are happier.
It also helps to give your brainpower a boost and increases your overall satisfaction with life. More satisfaction means less time to worry!
The good news? You dont necessarily have to leave the country, or even your state to take advantage of the benefits of travel. Explore your community, spend a night at a local bed and breakfast, take a staycation or take part in a local tourist attraction youve never seen before.
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Take Time To Think Productively
If you are an overthinker, it probably doesn’t make any sense to take more time to think. But it does if you do it right. Often, our thoughts come flying at us in the middle of chaotic times when we can’t process them effectively. If we set aside time, when things are quiet and we can let our minds go, we are more apt to form positive plans and ideas. It’s a good idea to start by meditating on something positive like scripture or a calming mantra. This, in turn, leads to more positive thoughts to deal with a current situation. But watch out! When your mind begins to let in any fear or doubt, it’s time for a distraction. Recognize that your initial thoughts are good and will allow you to take action and call out the creeping fear or doubt as a lie.
Pay Attention To Your Thoughts
Sometimes it’s hard to see your overthinking because it’s such a habit you don’t even notice what you’re doing. The Harvard Business Review recommends observing your thoughts AND identifying any recurring triggers.
One way to keep track of what you’re thinking about is by jotting things down somewhere. You could go old-school with a journal, or write your entry on-the-go using your phone and the thought record feature in Foundations.
Whether you’re replaying past mistakes or worrying about events outside your control, acknowledge how you feel. Itâs also a good idea to start learning how to recognise repetitive thoughts that arenât helpful or useful in any way.
@hannaholinger via Unplash
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How To Stop Overthinking With 3 Easy Steps
Overthinking and anxiety are the perfect recipes for chaos and uneasiness. However, learning how to stop overthinking is key to reinstating some peace in your life.
I think we all can overthink from time to time but its important to not let it get the best of you. Learning how to stop overthinking and practicing methods can be helpful to manage it.
If youd like to know how to stop overthinking, it is essential to learn the effects of overthinking. Learning how anxiety and cognitive distortions contribute to overthinking is also important. And, it is necessary to learn three easy steps you can implement to stop your overthinking.
Relaxation Techniques Can Help Overthinking
Relaxation techniques are activities that serve to alleviate tension and stress by reducing cortisol levels . The most common relaxation techniques youve likely heard of include Box Breathing, Guided Imagery, and Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
How to do box breathing?
Box Breathing is a relaxation technique that can be employed before, during, and after activities or experiences that increase your stress or anxiety. The first step is to count until four while inhaling through the nose. This is followed by holding your breath and counting to four. The next step is exhaling and counting until four. Finally, hold your breath and count to four. These will be repeated until you feel more relaxed. You can visualize creating a square in your mind with each step.
How to use guided imagery?
Guided Imagery can help reduce negative thoughts by encouraging you to think about and visualize calming environments. The first step is to find a comfortable position and space, free of distractions. Next is to recall or imagine a calming experience such as going to the beach. Try eliciting these through the five senses see the water, hear the waves, smell the sea salt, feel the sand, taste the beachy air. Finally, take slow, deep breaths and continue visualizing this calming experience.
How to use progressive muscle relaxation?
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Keep The Focus On Problem
Dwelling on your problems isnt helpfulbut looking for solutions is. If its something you have some control over, consider how you can prevent the problem, or challenge yourself to identify five potential solutions.
If its something you have no control overlike a natural disasterthink about the strategies you can use to cope with it. Focus on the things you can control, like your attitude and effort.
When To Ask For Help
While everyone overthinks sometimes, if youve been unable to control how much you worry and it starts interfering with your ability to function, it may be time to seek help from a professional.
You may also start experiencing physical symptoms like irritability, fatigue, concentration or memory difficulties and insomnia. Excessive worrying and stress can also lead to or intensify digestive issues, plus cause tension in your shoulders and neck.
If you find that its difficult to control your worrying or its hard to concentrate at work or its hard to fall asleep at night, at that point, I would definitely seek professional help, advises Duke.
One thing you will learn in therapy is how to not get caught up in your worrying, says Duke.
When youre in the midst of worrying, you dont always recognize it, she says. With CBT, you will learn how to recognize that youre spiraling and engaging in unhelpful rumination. You will practice writing down your negative thoughts, then challenging and reframing them. Essentially, you will develop an effective toolkit for coping with overthinking.
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Overthinking Symptoms And Signs Of Anxiety
Its useful to have a definitive list of overthinking disorder symptoms. This allows you to identify when you are really getting into dangerous territory for your mental health.
Looking at the following symptoms can help you conduct an overthinking disorder test.
When you try, you just cant turn off your mind, and you begin to feel agitated by worries or doubts.
Studies on overthinking disorder suggest you might turn to drugs, alcohol, food, or other external ways of regulating your emotions. This is because you dont feel able to calm down using our internal resources.
Youre always tired.
This may be from insomnia, or just from the constant loop of your agitated thoughts.
You want to control everything.
You try to plan every aspect of your life, down to the last detail. This is the only way you feel safe, but it never quite works .
You obsess about failure.
You tend to be a perfectionist and often imagine how awful it would be to fail in any way. This fear of failure often paralyzes you, preventing you from learning from any mistakes.
You fear the future.
Instead of being excited by all youve yet to accomplish and experience, you are trapped in your own anxiety about what could go wrong.
You dont trust your own judgment.
You second-guess yourself on everything from what youre wearing to where youre going, what youre saying and how you come across to others. Plus, you may rely on others to reassure you that your judgment is sound.
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How To Stop Overthinking
Grappling with your thoughts will leave you even more entangled in worry. Use metacognitive strategies to break free
is a therapist and metacognitive specialist, managing several clinics in Denmark and providing metacognitive therapy online in English. She has a PhD from Manchester University and trained with the founder of metacognitive therapy at the MCT Institute. She is the author of Live More Think Less .
Get Up And Get Moving
Sometimes, sweat can be the best cure for a worried mind.
There are so many benefits to exercise, including a boost in your cardiovascular health and an improvement in mood. Aside from being a part of a healthy lifestyle, exercise also has psychological benefits.
Exercise allows you to set goals, which will keep you focused . Youll also achieve a sense of accomplishment when you reach those goals. So, not only are you doing something good for your body, but youre giving your brain a boost and kicking your worries to the curb in the process.
Bonus points: choose to exercise outside as spending time in nature has its own mood-boosting benefits!
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Tip : Distinguish Between Solvable And Unsolvable Worries
Research shows that while youre worrying, you temporarily feel less anxious. Running over the problem in your head distracts you from your emotions and makes you feel like youre 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. No matter how much time you spend dwelling on worst-case scenarios, youre no more prepared to deal with them should they actually happen.
Accept Or Deny Your Thoughts
The brain is constantly churning out all kinds of thoughts. But thinking is a two-way street, says Dattilo. While the brain may offer numerous or near-constant thought suggestions, its ultimately up to us to decide if we accept them.
You dont have to take every alarming thought that pops into your head as truth. In fact, you can use those overthinking moments to question and fact check whats true, so the worried thought doesnt have as much power over you.
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How To Stop Worrying Tip : Create A Daily Worry Period
Its tough to be productive in your daily activities when anxiety and worry are dominating your thoughts and distracting you from work, school, or your home life. This is where the strategy of postponing worrying can help. Rather than trying to stop or get rid of an anxious thought, give yourself permission to have it, but put off dwelling on it until later.
So To Resolve The Uncertainty Your Brain Switches To Analysis Mode
This analysis can take many different forms. You might try to predict possible outcomes in your mind. You could try to reassure yourself why the thing youre worried about will not happen. You could try to think more logically or positively about it to take a seemingly more rational view. You may spend hours doing online research. Or you may seek reassurance from friends and family members that everything will be okay.
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Give Yourself Permission To Take Time Away
While its great to take time away from decision-making, you have to hold yourself accountable to that decision so that you can come back to it with a fresh mind. You can accomplish this by giving yourself permission to take time away from your decision-making.
Giving yourself permission is saying, Its good to stop thinking about this so that I can revisit it with a fresh perspective. Therefore, Im giving myself permission to ignore it for now knowing I will revisit it later.
Then, whenever your mind cycles back to the problem during that away time, you can say, No, Im not focusing on that now. Ive given myself permission to ignore it until later. I will revisit it at the specified time. Im not being irresponsible.
Giving yourself permission can make it easier to ignore the problem for the short-term, especially when you know you will revisit it at a predetermined time in the future.
Write Down Your Thoughts
Journaling is a good way to keep track of your thoughts. It helps when you can write them down and actually see them on paper. Then, logically write down a solution to help you through your situation.
If you are having conflict with a person, write them a letter. You don’t necessarily have to send it but getting your thoughts down is a healthy exercise to analyze a situation and better communicate with that person.
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Thoughts Are Just Thoughts
Another way of dealing with negative thoughts often used in modern therapy is realizing that thoughts aren’t facts, says Berger.
He says it is important when we think something to ask: Is that real? Did that really happen? What is the worst thing that could happen?
Flight anxiety is one example where untrue thoughts are accepted as facts. Although air travel is the safest way to get around, people suffering from fear of flying accept their thoughts and fears as reality, then act upon them by refusing to fly.
Pamper Yourself And Prioritize Self
In the hustle and bustle of modern life, you probably don’t schedule enough time off for your own well-being. You may spend your days in all sorts of stressful situations, but never prioritize taking time out to reduce stress. So the cycle of overthinking continues. And so do the negative effects. The anxiety, the sense that something is wrong in life, the worry that you made a wrong decision.
To break this cycle and get your mind going in the right direction, simply take some time to bring a little joy back into your life. Pamper yourself. Getaway with friends to a favorite retreat spot. Try out that new hobby you’ve been dreaming about. Enjoy that spa day you’ve been craving. The keyword here is ENJOY.
Scheduling time for these positive life experiences is one of the easiest ways to stop overthinking.
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