Methods to deal with the symptoms of anxiety are well known to us. We are encouraged to be equipped with our “mental toolkit” to be prepared to fix the damage of a panic streak or a racing heartbeat.
We might turn to a hot bath, go for a run (that’s me!), phone a friend or quite simply get some sleep to ease off any shakes or anxious thoughts.
What I personally found the most frustrating about my anxiety, however, was not necessarily how to rid myself of it but actually trying to work out how and why it arrived in the first place.
You know when you go upstairs to get something from your bedroom – then entirely forgot what it was you went there for? – It’s like that, but on a deeply disturbing and uncomfortable scale.
Talking therapy is a bloody brilliant way to explore past experiences and underlying beliefs about ourselves and our circumstances. Through talking therapy (like CBT for example) we can usually pinpoint what thinking patterns led to the anxiety at hand. But what if you’re like me, and don’t get on all that well with talking therapy?
Well, truth is, you’ve just gotta do a really great job of SELF-exploration, instead. It requires you to get really real with yourself. It requires you to get UnCoMfOrTaBlE.
Firstly, remember that feelings don’t just pop out of nowhere – THOUGHTS create feelings.
Thoughts that could potentially lead to feelings of anxiety can look like the following…
NEGATIVE SELF TALK.
Unless you’ve got a super big ego and think you’re the bees knees, this applies to almost everyone because we all do it. In fact, leading behavioural researchers have found that up to a whopping 77% of our thoughts and self-talk are negative and counterproductive.
If you feel like this could be you, then this article is super useful in helping us put an end to negative self-talk – I personally loved it.
PRESSURE ON TASKS.
Feeling overwhelmed by our workload and lifeload (yeah I just made that a “thing”) is common AF. There are so many things that we “should” be doing that we sometimes forget what is actually most important and pivotal to the “getting stuff done” aspect – YOU AND YOUR WELLNESS! If you often find yourself thinking things like “I should try that new yoga class” or “I should have finished that report by now” – is the should word really necessary? Is there really that much pressure on you to do the thing? When we take stock of how many times we think we “should” be doing something, it’s easy to see why we’re overwhelmed and anxious. Take away the should.
When we think too much of someone else, or expect too much of an event, we are setting ourselves up to be a little disheartened (read: anxious) when things aren’t the way we expect them to be. Have a real and honest conversation with yourself about whether you set very high expectations of your spouse, your family, your colleagues. The key here isn’t to think everyone should treat you like sh*t, it’s just acknowledging that when people do slip up (which they will – guaranteed), it’s not through malicious intent. It’s just human nature.
Examining the above examples of negative thinking can quite often indicate where our anxiety has arrived from. Granted, that’s not always going to “work” and we may still be at a loss as to how we ended up in this spiralling mess. Keep exploring yourself and your patterns of thought and learning who you are – that is the very best thing you can do.
In the meantime, maybe go run a bath? 😉