The nature of anxiety is complex. When you suffer from anxiety, you don't get to think negative and intrusive thoughts and just dispel them with a bit of logic and clear thinking. The reason so many of us deal with anxiety for years has a lot to do with the thoughts we think and how they affect our overall mental health. So, with that said, here are some ways you can stop negative thoughts from ruining your day.
1) Become aware of your "thought traps"
So, a thought trap works like this: You start thinking about x which leads you to begin panicking about y. Soon you realize that z could happen as a result of y and, suddenly, you're in full blown panic mode. Keep your worries and negative thoughts under control by recognizing what sets you off and cutting off your thought traps before they become unmanageable.
2) Mindful Meditation
Meditating doesn't have to be some big ritual where you light 100 candles and reconnect with your past lives. For a lot of people, it's a grounding exercise to re-anchor yourself with reality and let go of stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that meditation has positive benefits for people coping with anxiety, depression, and pain. Many people find the 5-4-3-2-1 method of mindful meditation quick and helpful.
3) Stop focusing on things that haven't happened yet
Lots of anxiety sufferers report worrying about the future as one of their biggest stressors.
depression is living in the past , anxiety is living in the future. happiness is when we allow ourselves to live in the present.— Paloma Ford (@palomaford) October 22, 2016
It's easier said than done, but changing this pattern of negative thoughts is more about reconfiguring how we react to stressful situations. There is nothing wrong with having the future in mind, but letting go of the anxiety associated with that is something that you need to be mindful of every day.
4) Replace your bad thoughts
Instead of focusing on things that worry or scare you, train your mind to think about exciting events you have coming up. Instead of focusing on your failures, remember successes you've had in the past. I'm also a big believer in positive affirmations as a way to position your mind toward better thinking.
We have two voices inside, but they shouldn't be in constant battle. We have to replace the bad thoughts, not fight them.— Shimon Sarfati (@shimonsarfati) August 30, 2016
5) Give in to yourself--just a little bit.
So, lots of people who have issues with anxiety, also have issues with compulsive thinking and behaviour. I, for one, compulsively make lists, have a set routine, and keep meticulous track of everything to keep my own mind at ease. According to Dr. Carrie Barron, lists can help with anxiety and "Provide a positive psychological process whereby questions and confusions can be worked through." You can work toward keeping negative thoughts at bay by organizing your mind on paper.
6) Go the f*ck to sleep
I really don't need to tell you the damaging effects of sleep debt, do I? Not only does sleep deprivation impact how you think, it also impacts the quality of your thought processes. In fact, sleep deprivation has been pretty strongly linked to negative daytime thoughts. Get a good night's rest, would you?
7) Talk your negative thoughts out
Considering the fact that about 20% of teenagers suffer from anxiety, there is a very real chance you will find a sympathetic ear when it comes to airing negative thoughts. Your friends can be a distraction from your issues, as much as they can be your makeshift therapists. You know for a fact that bottling things up is just unhelpful so have some faith in the people around you.
8) Catch yourself when you start projecting
"They didn't text me back. I must be bothering them"
"I didn't finish this assignment on time. I'm going to get fired for this."
"My friends went out without me. They must not like me."
These thoughts are so destructive and out of control. This is probably the worst type of negative thinking because these thoughts spiral into so much more. When you start thinking along these lines, just remember that these are thoughts that you made up. That won't stop them from springing to mind, but it will help inject some logical thinking into your anxious mind.
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