Sometimes you don’t even know it’s happening. A thought pops into your head, then another, then another. An anxious mind can ruin your focus, sour your mood and interrupt those precious hours of sleep.
Anxiety stems from our prehistoric survival instinct of fight or flight. This automatic response is trying to keep you safe. The problem is that the signals sent by an anxious mind aren’t always accurate. If you find yourself ruminating or struggling with anxious thoughts, here are some ways to calm your mind.
Anxiety by itself is neither good nor bad — it just is. Rather than feeling ashamed or frustrated by your anxious thoughts, acceptance can help you feel less anxious. Acknowledge it instead of fighting it so that you can free yourself to learn how to manage anxious thoughts more effectively.
Be More Mindful
Instead of worrying about what might happen or rehashing things you’ve done or said, try to be more mindful. It’s only when you engage with your anxious thoughts that you get stuck.
The practice of mindfulness can be done anywhere at any time. It helps you break free from anxiety and bring your attention back to the present. Here are a few basic techniques:
- Close your eyes and breathe.
- Observe your anxious thoughts without fighting, ignoring or controlling them.
- Notice that when you release control, anxious thoughts soon pass.
- Stay focused on the present — how your body feels, the rhythm of your breathing, the thoughts and emotions that come and go.
Some anxious thoughts are actually inaccurate or negatively biased ways of thinking called cognitive distortions. These habitual thoughts are often pointed inward — I’m a failure. I’ll never succeed. I deserve to be alone. It’s all my fault.
Don’t treat every anxious thought as though it were fact. Instead, extend some compassion and love to yourself. It’s not always easy being human, and you’re going to make mistakes. You aren’t perfect, and that’s okay.
Get Rid of Toxins
When anxious thoughts start creeping in, it may be time to practice a little self-care. Taking deliberate steps to look after your physical health and get rid of toxins can help your mental health when dealing with anxiety:
- Move: Physical activity is a long-proven method of boosting feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain, clearing your mind, helping you breathe more deeply and ultimately lowering anxiety.
- Digital detox: Take a step away from your smartphone, computer and tablet. Comparing yourself to others on social media and a constant barrage of notifications can take a toll on your focus and self-esteem.
- Eat healthy foods: Instead of turning to junk food for comfort or caffeine for focus, eat a well-balanced diet. Sugar and processed carbohydrates will likely only worsen your anxious symptoms, while caffeine can leave you feeling jittery.
Go to Therapy
Anxiety is the most common mental health issue in the United States. If you’re living in a constant state of worry or anxiety that interferes with your daily life, it may be time to go to therapy.
Keeping anxious thoughts to yourself will only cause them to build up and feel overwhelming. Therapy gives you a safe space where you can speak your worries with a mental health professional who can help you put things in perspective. Whether your anxieties are unwarranted or justified, sharing them can produce solutions that you may not have thought of alone.
Learn How to Calm Your Anxious Mind at Taylor Counseling Group
If you lie awake at night struggling with anxious thoughts, Taylor Counseling Group is here to help. Schedule your appointment to meet with one of our counselors so that you can learn to calm your anxious mind.