Axing Your Anxiety
Understand and Manage Your Thoughts
The holidays tend to make even the most relaxed people anxious. So much to do, so little time to do it, family pressures, work pressures, and financial pressures – it’s amazing how much anxiety there is around holidays that are supposed to be calm and loving!
That racing heartbeat, sweat, and butterflies can get so bad at times that you may think you’re having a heart attack. And, even if it’s not the worst anxiety you’ve ever felt, even just a little anxiety can make it difficult to focus and work.
While many people may tell you to “just stop worrying,” it’s important to understand anxiety before you can ever expect to control it.
- Anxiety, in and of itself, is an emotional process that generally comes from a perceived future threat. Many people think and analyze a situation so much that they make it into something overwhelming. That fear overpowers everything else and continues to grow. Still, it all starts with a thought and emotion. It is not a reaction to something actually occurring, it’s a pre-action for something that may or may not happen.
- Most people with anxiety feel like the situation that causes the anxiety will last forever and they won’t be able to handle it. Realistically, few things last forever. Everything is temporary. That’s an important thing to remember when anxiety starts.
- Anxiety can have a positive response. When something bothers you to the point of taking healthy action to avoid it – that can be beneficial. However, taking positive steps while keeping anxiety at a minimum is certainly preferred.
If life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it, learning how to react to the initial stirrings of anxiety can help keep it from overpowering you.
For general anxieties, there are some ways to help keep you focused.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps you work with your thoughts and behaviors in order to change your feelings. For instance, you may ask yourself:
- “What thoughts are creating this feeling?”
- “How do I know what I am thinking is a fact? Is it really?”
- “What positive thing could happen instead of what I am imagining?”
- Breathe deeply, focusing on your breaths, not your thoughts.
- Mindfulness – paying attention to the present moment – can help you ax your anxiety as it keeps you focused on what is happening around you right then, instead of worrying about the “what ifs” for later.
The key is to not jump to conclusions. Make sure your thoughts and fears are based in the here, now, and reality. If they aren’t, reinforce this reality in your thoughts and actions.
Overcoming anxiety takes practice, so keep trying, be patient with yourself, and realize that most problems are not as dramatic as we think they will be.