5 Ideas for Taming Anxiety

Taming Anxiety

"I'm just so tired of feeling afraid all the time", she said, looking exhausted and hopeless. I understood her concern. I have talked to lots of people who struggle with anxiety. The biggest problem with this issue is that it can become like a monster. The more you feed it, the hungrier it gets. But if you learn to starve it, it will eventually stop asking for more. Let me know if you think it could help you to come in for an appointment. We could find some practical ways to practice some of these things together. 


Here are some ideas ( taken form Linda Sapadin's article, How to Stop Fear from Stopping You)


1. When you want to retreat to safety...


Instead of thinking, "I can't do it", think, "I can calm myself down" and decide what to do. Remember what it was like to learn to swim as a child? What if you decided that  even though you do not want to jump into the deep end of the pool, you can wade into the shallow end, then gradually move to where you feel more comfortable. Giving yourself extra time and learning to calm your body are the main tools for this one. 


2. When "What if" questions start to get the best of you...


You might decide to not bother to answer these questions. They simply stir up your anxiety and won't help at all. Instead, you can answer your "What if" questions with realistic, rational answers. Answers can help you become more decisive. I call this practicing worse case scenario. 


3. When your fear includes danger...


You might find yourself thinking about catastrophic outcomes. Your headache must be a brain tumor, your plane will be hijacked, etc. Though these outcomes are likely not to occur, you still are having a hard time not focusing on them. Instead, you can change your self talk by focusing on reminding yourself that the chances are slim for disaster just like the chances are slim for winning was the last the lottery. When was the last time you won the lottery anyway?


4. When your anxiety makes it hard to make a decision...


Sometimes anxiety makes it so hard to make a decision that you don't make any at all. Instead, you can use imagery. Picture yourself standing at a fork in the road. You can choose the left fork, the right fork, or you can just stay standing at the crossroads forever. Hopefully this imagery will help you appreciate that not making a choice is really making a choice. 


5. When you are just trying to avoid your anxiety...


Instead of thinking about how to alleviate your anxiety, you might turn to your drug of choice to try to numb your mind. You might try taking a deep breath to start. Try thinking of a positive image, something that makes you feel calm and comforted. Sty with this image as long as you can. Once your mind moves away from your fears, return to the task at hand. I call this skill radical acceptance.