Anxiety Management: How to Stop Worrying About The “What-If’s”
I have an infant, which means that over the past several months I have often found myself awake in the middle of the night feeding a hungry baby. Although I would do everything possible to keep my mind quiet and in sleep mode I started to notice a recurring pattern.
I would have just settled into the still and quiet of the night when I would hear a little voice in my head say “what should we feel anxious about right now?” This voice was clear as could be, prompting me to run through all the things in life I could worry about that would most likely keep me up for the rest of the night. Having spent years as a therapist and life coach helping others learn to manage their anxiety as well as teaching myself to manage my own, I was able to see this for what it was…a trap.
The mind is an amazing tool that can also be a bit of a narcissist, demanding attention when it is beginning to feel forgotten. In order to regain your focus, the mind will create the illusion of distress and unrest where there is none.
Learning how to combat the “worry trap” of the mind creates an experience of true freedom.
People have a tendency to believe that their thoughts have power over them, when in reality, we have power over our thoughts. Research into evidence-based forms of therapy, such as cognitive therapy, shows that by repeatedly practicing a different thought patterns we can create new neurological pathways in the brain. This means that with practice, you can begin to control the reflexive response of anxiety and feel more at peace.
Three Steps to Get Out of The Mind-Trap
- Ask Questions: You can take the first step out of the mind trap by asking yourself a couple of simple questions. Is there anything I can solve right now? And if so, what are the solvable problems? I know that at 2:00 in the morning the chances of me solving any of my worries are slim to none, making it pointless for me to give that little voice any attention at all.
- Talk Back: I found that the simple act of saying to myself “there is nothing I can do about any of these anxieties at this moment” quiets that nagging voice.
- Solve Your Solvable Problems, or Let It Go: However, when that voice presents in a moment where you can tackle the anxiety, identifying the solvable problems does two things. First, it exposes whether or not the anxious thoughts are based in reality and second it helps you regain your sense of control. If there are no solvable problems than you can consider it wasted worry and move on. On the other hand, if there are solvable problems, taking the steps to remedy whatever it is that is provoking the anxious feelings will provide a sense of empowerment and ease the feeling of impending doom that anxiety tends creates.