Feelings of anxiety have been a feature of many of our lives in recent months, we have all struggled with the impact of lock-down. The problem is, that even though the world is coming out of its restrictions. Many of us are still feeling anxious, this time about how to re-enter this new state of normal.
Living in a state of anxiety, limits our ability to be happy and eventually takes a toll on our body and mind and total well-being. Some people do seem to have more of a genetic tendency to having anxious feelings. Past traumas and being under stress for long periods can also make anxiety more likely.
But when you have reached the stage – that you are even worrying about worrying – then its time to take action!
Feelings of fear, are closely related to anxiety. Very often a person feeling anxious will do a number of things:
Pushing down the concerns
It takes a lot of effort to constantly push away your worries. Eventually they have a habit of bubbling over, possibly when you least expect it, and when it is most inconvenient.
Instead of dealing with the source of anxiety, you may partake in distracting activities. Many of which can be destructive, such as drinking alcohol to excess, or comfort eating, burning the candle at both needs etc…
It can be really difficult to recognise that anxiety isn’t necessarily logical. So, trying to counteract its effects with reasoning is often unsuccessful.
Maybe you are trying to put a positive spin on things, but time and again the anxiety wins through – leading you to feel inadequate and like a failure. Thereby setting up the cycle again!
So, what is the solution?
Accept that you can have anxious moments, but they do not need to define you as a person. You don’t have to be classified as an ‘anxious person’. You are just a person, experiencing an emotion.
Try to reframe the way you see the anxiety, not – ‘I’m anxious’, but ‘I’m full of anxious thoughts’…
Rather than running away from the thoughts that are distressing you – try to face then. Only when we see them for what they are, can we understand that many of them have no basis, they are often unreliable beliefs.
Come to accept that life cannot be lived without a certain level of the unknown. It is impossible and exhausting to try and play out every outcome to a possible problem. If you find yourself often doing this, then at least put a time limit on things. Say, 30-minutes to analyse the problem and then you must move on with your day.
Circles of Control
To help you gain perspective, you might find it helpful to stop spiralling anxiety with an exercise called ‘Circles of Control’.
Draw 2 circles side by side. Above the circles summarise the source of anxiety.
In one of the circles write down all of the things under your control in relation to the problem. In the other circle write all of the things that you cannot influence.
The above exercise demonstrates just how much time we can spend on worrying about things that we actually can’t impact. It also stops paralysis of thinking, clearly outlining what if anything we can actually do.