As our society advances through technology, medicine and increased knowledge about human behaviour, you would expect that our lives would be getting easier.
Yet we seem to spend all our time worrying about our job security, our health, how we are perceived and whether or not we are living to our full potential. Here are some simple strategies on how to manage anxiety:
1. Be aware
Anxiety doesn’t need to be at clinical levels in order for it to affect us, and can impact our work as well as our relationships. Learning how to cope with daily struggles and recognising when we are allowing our worries to get the better of us can be helpful in preventing more severe issues and improving our daily experiences.
2. Identify your triggers
People prone to feeling anxious may feel that it’s just the way they are but after some inspection, triggers that set off the vicious thinking cycle can usually be found. Past experiences may bias what we expect an outcome to be; feelings of inadequacy to deal with a crisis; and even an under-stimulated mind or social life can leave you fretting over the unknown. Keeping busy with life rather than living in your own head can help shift your attention.
3. Keeping negative thoughts in check
The main thing to remember is that thoughts are simply that – thoughts – and they do not always correspond with reality. It’s very easy to get caught up in the “What if?” way of thinking, but rather than living in fear of the unknown, it can be helpful to go ahead and actually answer the question – as scary as that may seem.
4. “What if I embarrass myself in public?”
Consider how much people would really care or how you would react if someone else embarrassed themselves.
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5. “What if I lose my job?"
Think about the practical things you can do now to minimise the impact. Also evaluate how likely it really is that this would happen in the first place.
6. Breaking the habit
Thoughts can often become habit. What may start out as a rational concern: “What if I don’t do well in this job interview?” can become an automatic response to any similar situation. Rather than allowing your mind to go wild with the endless negative possibilities, look at what is actually happening around you and try to assess if your thoughts are in line with reality. It’s funny to think that many people with anxiety often doubt themselves and their abilities but rarely stop to consider that perhaps they should doubt the validity of their negative thoughts.
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7. You can’t control everything
No matter how hard you try, how dedicated you are to keeping a look out for potential threats, there are some things in life you simply cannot control. At the end of the day, worrying about something will not actually impact the outcome. If anything, it will distract you from opportunities which may arise that could help improve your life.
8. Seeking further help
If you feel you are suffering from anxiety to the point where it is stopping you from living the life you desire, seek help. It can be hard to take that first step but speaking to someone who is not only trained in such matters but also objective can give you a new perspective.