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Fear is one of the most powerful emotions. It has a very strong effect on your mind and body.
Fear can create strong signals of response when were in emergencies for instance, if we are caught in a fire or are being attacked.
It can also take effect when youre faced with non-dangerous events, like exams, public speaking, a new job, a date, or even a party. Its a natural response to a threat that can be either perceived or real.
Anxiety is a word we use for some types of fear that are usually to do with the thought of a threat or something going wrong in the future, rather than right now.
Fear and anxiety can last for a short time and then pass, but they can also last much longer and you can get stuck with them. In some cases they can take over your life, affecting your ability to eat, sleep, concentrate, travel, enjoy life, or even leave the house or go to work or school. This can hold you back from doing things you want or need to do, and it also affects your health.
Some people become overwhelmed by fear and want to avoid situations that might make them frightened or anxious. It can be hard to break this cycle, but there are lots of ways to do it. You can learn to feel less fearful and to cope with fear so that it doesnt stop you from living.
Is Your Worry Solvable
Productive, solvable worries are those you can take action on right away. For example, if youre worried about your bills, you could call your creditors to see about flexible payment options. Unproductive, unsolvable worries are those for which there is no corresponding action. What if I get cancer someday? or What if my kid gets into an accident?
If the worry is solvable, start brainstorming. Make a list of all the possible solutions you can think of. Try not to get too hung up on finding the perfect solution. Focus on the things you have the power to change, rather than the circumstances or realities beyond your control. After youve evaluated your options, make a plan of action. Once you have a plan and start doing something about the problem, youll feel much less anxious.
If the worry is not solvable, accept the uncertainty. If youre a chronic worrier, the vast majority of your anxious thoughts probably fall in this camp. Worrying is often a way we try to predict what the future has in store-a way to prevent unpleasant surprises and control the outcome. The problem is, it doesnt work. Thinking about all the things that could go wrong doesnt make life any more predictable. Focusing on worst-case scenarios will only keep you from enjoying the good things you have in the present. To stop worrying, tackle your need for certainty and immediate answers.
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.
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Find What Relaxes You
There are already things in your life that relax you. You may find it beneficial to make a list of things you enjoy and that help you to relax so you can reference it when symptoms of anxiety arise. When you notice your anxiety rising turn to those activities to help stop symptoms before they escalate.
For example, if you find that a warm bath is relaxing, don’t wait, draw a bath, maybe light some candles or add a few nice scents and get in. Whether it’s a bath, a shower, skipping stones at a park, getting a massage – if it works, do it right away, rather than allowing yourself to become overwhelmed by your anxiety.
Think Positively By Expressing Gratitude
If you focus on the positives in life, you can draw strength from a source of reassurance during stressful moments. An excellent strategy to cultivate a positive mindset is by expressing gratitude. When you feel thankful and appreciative, it introduces a different perspective to your situation. Any negative thoughts are assessed in a new light, helping you take a balanced approach to your concerns.
Look back upon the various milestones in your life, from happy memories to personal accomplishments. You might feel thankful for your family, friends, work, health, and many other inspirations. Fill your thoughts with these joyful reference points, accessing them when you need a morale boost. Document any positive events in a journal, so you can read the entries any time instead of overthinking or worrying too much.
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Treating Anxiety With Lifestyle Changes
Exercising at least three days a week can have benefits far beyond weight control. Exercise has been shown to create new brain cells and produce a calming effect on the brain, allowing you to respond to stressors without slipping into an anxious overdrive.
Plus, many GAD sufferers preach the distracting quality of exercise its difficult to hyperfocus on your anxieties when youre pushing through the last mile of a run. Learning relaxation exercises can also help to decrease anxiety.
Meditation may feel daunting to someone overcome with worry, but it all begins with a few minutes of quiet, focused breathing each day. Simply engaging with the practice on a regular basis and committing yourself to improving however slightly can help you control anxiety and improve your overall outlook on life.
If practiced properly, meditation can:
1. Help you relax. Sitting still for long periods of time and breathing steadily can calm a racing heart and save you from a desire to overthink and fix everything.
2. Teach you how to self-observe without judging. Many who suffer from anxiety are ashamed that they feel so controlled by their worries and fears. Meditation teaches you to recognize your own thought patterns and identify where they lead to anxiety without berating yourself for feeling the wrong way.
Get A Little Help From Your Friends
Do people often tell you youre worrying or thinking too much? Theyre probably on to something. Get some perspective on an issue by asking a trusted friend to weigh in with their thoughts and nudge you when you seem stuck in your head.
Choose a friend who already knows how to manage overthinking. Research has found co-rumination excessively discussing and rehashing problems among friends can actually make anxiety worse.
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Why Wont My Fear Go Away And Leave Me Feeling Normal Again
Fear may be a one-off feeling when you are faced with something unfamiliar.
But it can also be an everyday, long-lasting problem even if you cant put your finger on why. Some people feel a constant sense of anxiety all the time, without any particular trigger.
There are plenty of triggers for fear in everyday life, and you cant always work out exactly why you are frightened or how likely you are to be harmed. Even if you can see how out of proportion a fear is, the emotional part of your brain keeps sending danger signals to your body.
Sometimes you need mental and physical ways of tackling fear.
Don’t Think Of What Can Go Wrong But What Can Go Right
In many cases, overthinking is caused by a single emotion: fear. When you focus on all the negative things that might happen, it’s easy to become paralyzed. Next time you sense that you starting to spiral in that direction, stop. Visualize all the things that can go right and keep those thoughts present and up front.
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Tip : Talk About Your Worries
It may seem like a simplistic solution, but talking face to face with a trusted friend or family membersomeone who will listen to you without judging, criticizing, or continually being distractedis one of the most effective ways to calm your nervous system and diffuse anxiety. When your worries start spiraling, talking them over can make them seem far less threatening.
Keeping worries to yourself only causes them to build up until they seem overwhelming. But saying them out loud can often help you to make sense of what youre feeling and put things in perspective. If your fears are unwarranted, verbalizing them can expose them for what they areneedless worries. And if your fears are justified, sharing them with someone else can produce solutions that you may not have thought of alone.
Build a strong support system. Human beings are social creatures. Were not meant to live in isolation. But a strong support system doesnt necessarily mean a vast network of friends. Dont underestimate the benefit of a few people you can trust and count on to be there for you. And if you dont feel that you have anyone to confide in, its never too late to build new friendships.
How To Overcome Anxiety And Overthinking During Recovery
Sometimes, it happens to the best of us: anxiety and overthinking. But during the recovery process, being constantly anxious and over thinking things could prove to be detrimental to the recovery process. So here are the steps you have to take in order to overcome anxious thoughts during recovery.
What Is Overthinking?First of all, what exactly is overthinking? Over thinking simply means that a person spends far too much time thinking about solutions to problems that have already occurred in the past or are about to happen in the future. Introspection during the recovery process is a natural thing. In fact, its essential. But thinking about things to the point of immobility is detrimental to the recovery process and can even make a recovering addict more anxious than ever.
How Does Anxiety and Overthinking Sabotage the Recovery Process?Although thinking about possible negative outcomes can be a good thing, it can also mean that a person is looking for reasons why they dont need to take positive action in the first place. In short, a person who over-thinks during the early stages of recovery could simply be looking for a way out.
Another way to stop overthinking, overanalyzing, or worrying too much in general is to take up a writing habit. Keeping a journal can help a person be aware of their words and actions. Having a journal is also a great way of chronicling ones recovery process.
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Try To Practice Mindfulness And Meditation
It might seem obvious, but when you strive to live in the present moment, it is harder to spend time worrying about yesterdays events or feel anxious about tomorrows schedule. Start to become aware of the right now by practicing your focus. This skill builds over time and eventually helps reduce overthinking.
Use Positive Daily Affirmations For Anxiety
Affirmations are statements that help you overcome negative thoughts. They are particularly useful if you want to learn how to stop overthinking at night or want to set yourself up for a great day first thing in the morning.
Here are some good affirmations for anxiety:
- I have the power to decide what I will think about. My thoughts do not control me.
- Right now, I release my obsessive thoughts and let them go.
- I refuse to allow my imagination to show me disastrous futures.
- We all live in the present moment and appreciate the beauty of whats happening now.
- I am more than my negative thoughts. I can and will be happy.
You can also design your own positive daily affirmations. There are no set rules for the form they must take. In addition, try saying them into the mirror, looking straight into your own eyes. And smile, if it feels natural.
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You Experience Repetitive Thoughts
Ruminatingor rehashing the same things over and over againisnt helpful. But, when youre overthinking, you might find yourself replaying a conversation in your head repeatedly or imagining something bad happening many times.
Dwelling on your problems, mistakes, and shortcomings, increases your risk of mental health problems, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
As your mental health declines, you are more likely you are to ruminate on your thoughts. Its a repetitive cycle that can be tough to break.
You Struggle To Make Decisions
You might try to convince yourself that thinking longer and harder helps you. After all, youre looking at a problem from every possible angle.
But, overanalyzing and obsessing actually becomes a barrier. Research shows thinking too much makes it tough to make decisions.
If youre indecisive about everything from what to eat for dinner to which hotel you should book, you might be overthinking things.
It’s very likely that you are wasting a lot of time looking for second opinions and researching your options, when ultimately, those little choices might not matter so much.
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Tip : Practice Mindfulness
Worrying is usually focused on the futureon what might happen and what youll do about itor on the past, rehashing the things youve said or done. The centuries-old practice of mindfulness can help you break free of your worries by bringing your attention back to the present. This strategy is based on observing your worries and then letting them go, helping you identify where your thinking is causing problems and getting in touch with your emotions.
Acknowledge and observe your worries. Dont try to ignore, fight, or control them like you usually would. Instead, simply observe them as if from an outsiders perspective, without reacting or judging.
Let your worries go. Notice that when you dont try to control the anxious thoughts that pop up, they soon pass, like clouds moving across the sky. Its only when you engage your worries that you get stuck.
Stay focused on the present. Pay attention to the way your body feels, the rhythm of your breathing, your ever-changing emotions, and the thoughts that drift across your mind. If you find yourself getting stuck on a particular thought, bring your attention back to the present moment.
Basic mindfulness meditation
Click here for a free mindful breathing meditation.