How to Stop Anxious Thoughts
If you suffer from anxiety it is highly likely that you will experience times when you worry. Everyone worries from time to time but with anxiety, these thoughts can be persistent and take over your life. Anxiety makes you fearful and in many cases stops you from living your life. Here’s how you can stop anxious thoughts and feel at peace again.
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Why Do you Have Anxious Thoughts?
At one point in your life, something happened to you that upset, scared or embarrassed you. That moment is most likely to have occurred when you were relatively young. Typically between the ages of 3 to 7 years old. Whatever that incident was it started off your anxiety. Now it might not have been full-blown fear at that point but it certainly may have stopped you from doing certain things.
An example of this may be that you were playing with your brother in the garden and he decided to lock you in the shed. You were only small and started to panic about getting out. Your brother walks away and leaves you there trapped and the fear gets bigger. Eventually, you believe you are never getting out of that situation and start crying and are frozen with fear. Of course eventually either your brother comes back or a parent finds you and you are safe but your memory never forgets that incident.
Years later you still have a fear of being trapped somewhere you can’t get out of. You may have no recollection where this came from as you have never associated the garden incident with the problem. All you know is that you avoid going on underground trains, avoid lifts and always check your escape routes wherever you go.
Then along comes some stress in your life and the avoidance strategies you have been using suddenly don’t seem enough to contain your fear. Now you spend most of your time concerned about what you might do the following day and whether it involves being stuck in a situation you can’t get out of. The fear starts to take over to the point where you start to avoid leaving the house.
This is how anxious thoughts begin and grow. Of course, everyone who has anxious thoughts will have a different reason for them starting. All you need to know is that anxious thoughts are your brain’s way of keeping you alive and stopping you from danger.
The problem with anxious thinking is that often our thought patterns are created when we are young. This means we can’t see the bigger picture, get upset more easily because things are out of control plus we don’t always understand what is going on around us.
In the example above only a child would be frightened of this incident. An adult would be stuck in the shed saying very funny you idiot and then go and find something to take the door off the hinges. Or they might happily wait until another family member went past.
In the majority of cases, your anxiety is being triggered by a childhood fear that an adult would brush off. So step number one for stopping anxious thoughts is reminding yourself that you are not in any real danger and that it is just your childlike mind that is causing a problem.
Stop Worry Thoughts
So what else can you do to stop anxious thoughts and feel calmer and more relaxed? Here are some simple suggestions to help alter what your mind is thinking.
Stress Reduction for Anxiety
Anxiety usually becomes worse when you are under stress. Tight deadlines at work, building work at home, illnesses, problems with relationships, children making demands are just some examples of what could be creating problems in your life. Managing your stress levels is incredibly important. Some of these issues may be out of control but others are things that you can change.
Start by looking at your lifestyle and see if there are any areas where you need to make a change and start implementing it. That may mean leaving work early on a few nights a week, finding some me time and taking time out to exercise and look after yourself.
Usually, worries can be split into something that you resolve and others that are out of your control. Start taking charge of anything that you can by taking steps to create positive change. For example, if you hate your job start to look for a new position elsewhere. Write your CV, see recruitment consultants and start booking interviews.
Self-Hypnosis to Stop Anxious Thoughts
When you are taking some time out you can also start to use relaxation and stress reduction self-hypnosis to help you feel calmer. Our Relaxation and Stress Reduction self-hypnosis download has been specially designed to help our clients enter a deep state of relaxation.
Practice self-hypnosis daily and your stress levels will start to rapidly decrease. When your stress levels start to come down your anxious thought patterns should also become less.
You can try the guided meditation for relaxation yourself by heading to our online store and downloading a copy to use at home.
If your thoughts are racing then another way of halting the negative thinking is by thought stopping. That is by acknowledging the thought out loud and think using a work such as stop, halt or enough to break the pattern.
Remember what your mind is telling you is not real. It is something that you are making up in your mind but it hasn’t happened yet. As an example, I worry that I will get to work tomorrow and everyone will think I’m stupid. You are unlikely to have any basis for thinking that thought at this moment in time and your mind is worrying about something that is unlikely to occur. Thought stopping helps you to put the brakes on before your thinking spirals out of control.
You can also start to challenge your thoughts and see whether you are catastrophising or blowing them out of proportion. When you need to stop anxious thoughts learning to rationalise is going to be incredibly helpful.
In most cases, anxiety is selective and tends to focus on the negatives in your life rather than focusing on the positives. For example, it may make you worry about stumbling over one word in a presentation you did in front of others. It has filtered out the rest of your presentation that went perfectly well.
Also because you have made one minor mistake it starts to tell you that you do will make the same error next time you speak. This is, of course, total nonsense and there is no evidence to support this.
Write down the thoughts that your mind is giving you and then start to challenge the reality.
Identifying the Triggers for Negative Thoughts and Anxiety
Your negative thoughts are not appearing for no reason. Your mind is trying to help you by firing the anxiety as it wants to warn you of danger. The only problem is that it can be hard to identify what that actually may be. This is why we created our anxiety tracking printables to help our clients understand their triggers so that they can take back control.
Head on over to our online shop to get a copy of our 8 worksheets that help you to trace where your problems may be coming from and challenge distorted or negative thinking.
Mindfulness for Anxiety
Anxiety makes us worry about something that hasn’t happened yet whilst mindfulness helps you to practice being in the moment. Mindfulness is being increasingly used to present worrying and anxious thinking because it helps you to think about what is going on and one particular moment in time.
There are so many variations of mindfulness exercises out there to help from focusing on an object to using the technique when you are walking. There are some great books out there on the subject that can help. Mindfulness a Practical Guide is one of the most popular books on the topic that you can purchase. Just remember that mindfulness does require regular practice to make an impact.
Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway
The funny thing about worrying is that it is a part of your mind desperately trying to prevent something bad happening. Yet when you start to challenge your thoughts and actively do the thing your mind was worrying about it is usually never as bad as it seemed. Plus the more you practice doing it the worry starts to fade away.
I know that many people fear public speaking and may feel highly anxious in the days leading up to a big speech or presentation. This is because they do the speaking on such an irregular basis that they have built up an irrational fear in their mind. Yet if those same people were required to deliver two presentations a day as part of their job the fear would totally vanish.
Always remember that the more you practice something the mind fears the quicker it vanishes. The more you take steps to avoid problems the bigger they become.
Self-Help to Stop Anxious Thoughts
If you want to take things a little further we have a Blitz Anxiety online course to help people start to take control of their worry and fear. Self-help for anxiety is a great way of using tips and techniques to change the way you think without the need to visit a therapist or doctor.
Our online course consists of five audio downloads to help reduce different aspects of anxiety. Plus there is a series of videos to guide you through exercises to change anxious thoughts. This course is perfect for people with generalised anxiety worries or fears.
Online Therapy to Stop Anxiety
Finally, if you find it is too difficult to stop the problem on your own then call in the professionals. There is never any need to suffer in silence when online therapy to stop anxiety is now so accessible. All you need is a quiet space to take the session and a good broadband connection.
If you need help to stop anxious thoughts or would like to learn how to manage your anxiety then our four-session program can help you. Simply fill out the form below to contact us about your particular needs and we can arrange your online therapy sessions.
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