“This is not going to work out,” “I’m going to do horribly on this presentation,” “I’m so stupid,” “What if…,” “I should have done…” Do these thought patterns sound familiar?
Two symptoms of anxiety disorders can include both racing thoughts and overthinking. Anxious thoughts can feel persistent and intrusive. If left unchecked, they can ruin a whole day, your mood and prevent you from living your life’s purpose.
However, it’s important to remember that thoughts are just thoughts. They are not facts, and they only hold the power you give to them. Just because your mind says something mean or tells you to worry, it doesn’t mean that it’s true. So, what do you do to calm your anxious mind?
10 Tips & Tricks for Calming Your Anxious Mind
- Be mindful. Bring your awareness to your physical body. What sensations and emotions are you feeling in the moment? If we can identify and sit with discomfort long enough, it will begin to subside leading you to practice self-awareness & acceptance.
- Identify your negative thinking patterns or cognitive distortions. These are maladaptive thinking patterns that occur, often, unconsciously in our brain which causes us to perceive the situation inaccurately. The first step is becoming aware of what those patterns are so that you can change them. Once you become aware of your negative cognitions, ask yourself, how much do you believe it?
- Reality-check those anxious thoughts. Is it true? Is it helpful? What evidence do I have against that negative thought? You might even ask a friend to help you see the situation from another perspective.
- Reframe using positive self-statements. What would you like to believe about yourself instead? Write it down on a post-it note and stick it where you’ll see it daily.
- Focus on what’s in your control. Often, we worry about things that are out of our control. Ask yourself, “what do I have the power to actually change in this moment?”
- Breathe. Slow your body and nervous system down by utilizing intentional breathing. This will help the body move into the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation response).
- Practice physical movement such as progressive muscle relaxation or yoga to release tension within your body.
- Prayer & Scripture Reading. Ask God into the moment with you. Be reminded though his word, that he cares for you and promises never to leave you.
- Visualization. Can you identify a place that makes you feel completely safe and calm? Take a few moments to spend time in this place within your mind.
- Time Limit your anxiety. Set a 10-15 minute “worry break” in your day. Allow your mind to worry during that time. As thoughts come throughout the day, acknowledge them, and imagine yourself putting them inside a container or to the side until the scheduled time.
Anxiety can feel overwhelming. If you find yourself having difficulty managing your anxious thoughts, are experiencing sleeping problems, or are experiencing anxiety that interferes with your activities of daily living, you might consider seeking help. You might consider reaching out to your health insurance for a list of approved providers, conducting a search on Psychology Today, or reaching out to Graceful Balance. You do not have to go through this alone.