Everyone struggles with anxiety from time to time - it’s a natural part of being human. If you’ve ever had to give a public speech, or done something embarrassing in front of a crowd, then you’ve likely experienced anxiety. Many of us become anxious when we’re facing big projects, looming deadlines, or other events that have a lot of weight to us. Nearly 20% of Americans have some sort of anxiety disorder - so you’re not alone! - and according to a recent poll done in 2018, people are feeling more anxiety compared to previous years.
Here are a a few mental fixes to help you begin managing your anxiety more effectively (instead of letting your anxiety manage you)!
Identify your triggers
If you notice you feel anxious on a fairly regular basis, the first step you want to take is identifying what is causing, or triggering, your anxiety. Different people become anxious in different situations, in response to different stimuli, or even at different times at the day. Missing your alarm may cause you to feel anxious the rest of the day. You may suffer from anxiety when assigned certain tasks you don’t feel equipped to handle. Maybe you start stressing about things you haven’t done right before bed, or after having a double-shot of espresso before a big presentation.
Once you identify what makes you anxious, then you can start taking the necessary steps to managing it.
Challenge Negative Thoughts
For anyone who struggles with anxiety, it can be easy to forget that what you feel isn’t the same as the truth. When anxiety is controlling your thoughts, it is extremely common for them to become overwhelmingly negative. Automatic negative thoughts (also known as ANT) are a form of cognitive distortion, which is psychology slang for things our mind makes us believe that are not true. If you ever started thinking, ‘there’s no way I can do this’ or, ‘I’m going to make a fool out of myself’ - then it’s likely that automatic negative thoughts are to blame.
These thoughts tend to kick anxiety into overdrive, so stopping them before they start is a vital part of managing anxiety. Many experts recommend getting into the habit of writing down any negative thoughts you have in a given situation. Write them down, then think about them logically. Ask yourself why you are thinking this way, and how much reason there is to justify feeling this way. Finally, identify healthier alternative thoughts to have, and write these out as well.
Schedule your worry time
No one can avoid anxiety altogether. Whether your anxiety is a chronic disorder or something that comes and goes, it’s important to set aside some time each day to sort through your own emotions. Give yourself time to address any possible issues that might be causing anxiety and work through them. Even if you find yourself still anxious, the act of accepting the anxiety and its cause can help you feel more in-control of your emotions, instead of overwhelmed by them.
Anxiety has become part of living in today’s fast-paced and high-pressure world. Thankfully, the prevalence of anxiety means that we’ve become masters at handling anxiety appropriately. If you’re struggling with anxiety on a regular basis, be sure to talk to your doctor about it - odds are that they’ll be able to provide the best options for your own unique case. Until then, these mental fixes may not solve all of your anxiety issues, but try them out. You might find they help more than you’d think!