Following on from last week’s post – 5 Situations that Trigger my Anxiety – I thought I’d talk about the steps I take to manage my anxiety when it does hit me…
1: Identify Triggering Thoughts
The first step I take is to recognise when I’m having triggering anxious thoughts.
These are thoughts which I’ve challenged in the past and which I know are just part of my condition. I then know I should waste no more time on these.
Generally for me these are existential thoughts and fears about reality or sudden obsessions over everyday things like whether I’ve locked my front door.
Over time I’ve gotten pretty good at identifying the things which are just pointless obsessive worries!
2: Accept Anxious Thoughts and DO NOT Engage with them
This leads me to probably the most challenging step of all – accepting that I’m having anxious thoughts and not engaging with them.
In the past I’ve battled my anxious thoughts and have gone round and round in circles for hours, days, weeks, months, years over stupid worries which have no end.
Now I realise that the way to manage my anxiety is to accept it when it becomes worse. I’m able to do this with the knowledge that my worries aren’t anything to genuinely worry about and that they will pass on their own.
I don’t try to escape the situation, check things repeatedly or research worries obsessively like I have in the past.
I know after a while I will realise again that the thoughts I’m having are not worth worrying about. If I battle them it will only amplify my anxiety and delay that process.
3: Don’t Get Frustrated
It’s not always possible to ignore anxious thoughts and so it is also important not to get frustrated with yourself when anxiety does take hold.
Again, I try to remember that it will pass in it’s own time and getting frustrated and putting pressure on myself to ‘get better’ only makes it worse.
4: Be Kind to Myself and Talk to Others
Similar to the previous step, it’s important not to get angry with yourself when anxiety gets worse or you have a period of time when you do worry excessively.
I try to take the pressure off and be kind to myself by not beating myself up mentally about my condition.
I also talk to family, friends, colleagues and anyone who I think can help to relieve some of that pressure when things are really tough. I’ve found most people are very understanding and supportive.
5: Find a Positive Focus
After I’ve taken a bit of time to let my worries pass, I try to use my anxious energy in a positive way.
I am a very thoughtful and determined person and once I set out to do something I put everything into it. I can’t do anything half-heartedly.
I think that is why I have been consumed by anxiety in the past – because once I get thinking about something I can’t stop trying to work it out until I resolve it in my head!
That part of my personality obviously has a negative side. However, being so determined and committed to things is also one of my favourite traits.
It allows me to excel in things which I do and so when I find a project to focus on it can replace my anxiety in a positive way.
Whether that’s my career, moving house, decorating, blogging or volunteering, if I pour myself into a project then I can use the side of my personality which causes my anxiety in a great way.
It means I’m happy, focused and achieving things and also means that my anxiety tends to subside.
Thanks for reading and let me know what steps you take to manage your mental health in the comments!