Anxiety

Tackling Anxious Thoughts

Background

Anxiety is a natural response to stress. As humans, we have evolved to become very good at responding to danger quickly.

But sometimes, this response can become overwhelming, especially when anxious thoughts are triggered by harmless situations. Managing these thoughts and worries about the future is key to conquering anxiety and tackling our eczema.

Here, we’ll cover several evidence-based ways of helping you to achieve this:

Identify and challenge your negative thoughts

Identifying your negative thoughts is the first and most crucial step to managing anxiety. Only once we know what we’re tackling can we go ahead and create a plan of action. So here’s how you can bring out and tackle these beliefs.

  • List the negative thoughts that are causing you anxiety.
  • Write them all down in a notebook or within the app so that you can refer back to them.
  • Then write down why each thought is not accurate or helpful (i.e., "I'm going to fail my exam" and "It's too late for me to start studying now.").
  • Finally, rewrite the statements using positive language instead of negative language. For example, "I can do well on this exam if I prepare well beforehand" instead of "I’m going to fail my exam".

This approach helps by using your rational thoughts to battle the automatic thoughts we know to be incorrect.

Take a moment.

When you feel overwhelmed with anxiety, pausing and assessing the situation can be difficult. To help with this situation, try taking a deep breath and saying, "I'm going to take a moment."

Once you've paused, try practising mindfulness or using relaxation therapy within the app to help calm your nerves.

Be mindful of what you eat and drink.

Try to make conscious choices about what you consume daily. What goes into your body has an important effect on your mental health. Here are some tips on making better nutrition choices:

  • Eat a balanced diet, including fruit, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains.
  • Drink plenty of water daily (aim for eight 8-ounce glasses).
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, sugar and processed foods. These can cause spikes in blood sugar levels that trigger anxiety symptoms.
  • Junk food should be avoided. It causes inflammation in your gut and can lead to low energy levels and digestive issues, increasing stress on the body and mind.

Take care of your body.

You'll be surprised by how much better you feel when you take care of your body. Try to do this by using the following:

  • Make sure you're getting enough good quality sleep. This helps to regulate stress hormones, which makes it easier for your brain to deal with anxiety.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercising produces endorphins that help improve mood and give a feeling of relief from stress.
  • Take time doing something that gives you joy. This can be anything from listening to music or going for a walk in nature (or even just looking out the window) – anything that helps distract from negative thoughts can be beneficial!
  • Try taking regular breaks away from technology as they can cause a disconnect to others and exacerbate anxious thoughts.

Talk it out.

Talk it out. Talking about it with someone you trust can help ease your stress if you're feeling anxious. Try telling a friend, family member or even a professional like a school counsellor or therapist.

Learn to cope with uncertainty

Uncertainty is a normal part of life. However, it can be challenging to manage. The key, then, is to understand that uncertainty is inherent in being human and having a mind that wants to know things before they happen (or even after).

Remember to be kind to yourself and recognise that every person's tolerance for unpredictability is different. Try to be conscious of the content that you consume, predominantly negative news. Remind yourself of your past successes and all of the challenges that you've managed to overcome. And be careful of dwelling on the things you can't control.

Conclusion

Tackling anxiety requires perseverance using the above techniques. But over time, you'll become more proficient at conquering these negative thoughts and reshaping your brain's internal wiring.

August 1, 2022
by 
Dr Noreen Akram
Proton Health Programme
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