Anxiety is practicing failure in advance. Anxiety is needless and imaginary. It is fear about fear, fear that means nothing. – Seth Godin
Although Seth Godin probably meant well, anxiety is still very much a reality and it is still something that incessantly plagues individuals every single day. The crippling feeling of uneasiness, agitation and disquiet are metaphorical cancers to a person’s productivity, and yet it constantly remains as a persistent feeling. The fact is, when you start twisting and turning on your bed at night while thinking of various scenarios (which all have a randomized probability of happening) that would cause you to break in sweat while the hours tick by, you are causing your body unwarranted stress. When this occurs, more often than not, you are compromising your efficiency at work owing to your lack of sleep, and not only that, your constant worries may cause a strain in your existing relationships. There may be articles that tend to be poetic and politically correct when it comes to anxiety and necessary worry, but let me be the first one to tell you that for something those articles have glamorized so much, there is nothing beautiful about constant worrying.
However, this inconvenient situation need not be a permanent canker in your life as there are ways to rectify your nightly qualms that go beyond the occasional advice of telling you to “be positive”. In fact, the latest research concerning anxiety would suggest innovative and odd techniques for coping with recurrent worries successfully. Here are just some of the approaches you can try.
1.) REPEAT YOUR WORRY UNTIL YOU ARE BORED SILLY
This is something akin to desensitization when it comes to your allergies wherein you repeatedly expose yourself to limited and controlled doses of the allergen until you are completely free from it. In the same vein, if you have a troublesome thought constantly giving you worries and nagging you, then say it over and over, silently and slowly for at least twenty minutes. It would be rather hard to keep your mind in a worried state should you repeat it for a certain number of times.
2.) DO NOT FIGHT THE CRAZINESS
Our brains are curious things; they tend to cook up situations, twist them around and lead you to think you might potentially do something terrible such as you doing something irreversible such as screaming at your employer after a bad day at work. Keep in mind that our minds are powerful and creative as well, the little synapses in your head are triggered by anything random and those “crazy” thoughts seep out. Welcome them instead of judging it and describe it as something curious and shelve it then move on.
3.) TURN YOUR ANXIETY INTO A MOVIE
Disconnect yourself from a worry in order to let go of it. Do this by envisioning and imagining your worries as if they were on a show. Give them a character and observe them as an audience would while they are watching a movie. Maybe your top worry can take the form of a funny guy who sings your worry away and you will be the silent and calm observer eating popcorn.
4.) RECOGNIZE FALSE ALARMS
Because our brains are innately and powerful things, our imaginations tend to go overboard and make us think of scenarios that have zero probability of happening. We may have this irrational fear of having our houses burning down because you thought you left the television on, yet in our lives this has never come true. This may cause us to incessantly worry and to make our hearts beat rapidly than usual but this does not mean that you are having a heart attack, but this is just how it responses to arousal. There are thoughts and sensations we may misconstrue as a concern and may even cause us to panic but think of them as a fire truck headed to another place.
5.) BREATHE IT OUT
When we are tense, we tend to hold our breaths and more often than not, we do not notice it till much later. This is rather common but effective technique ensures that you would calm your nerves. Try to think about where your breath is now and where your thoughts are and harmonize them. Take stock of the movements of your breath and whether your mind tends to wander somewhere else. If it does, bring it back and concentrate only on breathing in and out, beginning and ending.
6.) SET ASIDE TIME FOR WORRY
Worries attack us at any point of the day; they show up unannounced and uninvited. You could be in the middle of lunch or you could be responding to an important email when they suddenly crop up. Now, this would not be so much of a dilemma if it were not for the fact that we tend to stop what we are doing just to address them—even if we are in the midst of doing something incredibly important. This is why it is imperative to set aside some time—at least twenty minutes every single day—just for your worries. If they attack you at any point of the day, jot them down and try to compartmentalize and think about them later. By the time you allow yourself to think about them, they probably will not even matter as much anymore.
7.) MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR TIME
Worriers have it bad because they feel like every passing alarming thought is an emergency. But, breathe in and take notice your anxious arousal, more often than not: It is temporary. Your feeling of panic will eventually come to an end and all of your concerns will gradually diminish into nothingness. Even those ill-perceived emergencies would no sooner evaporate. So, take a self-introspection and ask yourself, “How will I feel about this in a week or a month?”. Needless to say, that too, shall pass.
Stress and anxiety may be an ignorant state as it perceives everything to be an emergency, but that does not mean that it should take over your life. Remember, you control your life as well as your thoughts, so do not let these needless worries and anxiety overpower you and show them that you are much stronger than a persistent negative thought. After all, should you successfully control it, you will be living a life with much lesser inconveniences (more sleep and more peace of mind) and when this occurs, you can be assured you can do and take on anything.
Harry Neal is a freelance writer and a blogger. He is currently writing for Paramount Direct, one of the top insurance company in the Philippines. He gives tips for life and accident insurance on his blog.