3 Ways to Challenge Your Thinking to Reduce Anxiety

Anyone who has felt anxiety will know how terrible it is when you begin to panic and become the only thing you can focus on. Once you get into an anxious mindset, a whole wave of anxiety, fear, and lots of physical symptoms goes through your body.

1.       Accept your anxiety

Anxiety, like all other feelings, is just a feeling. You can start accepting anxiety by reminding yourself that it is an emotional reaction. Acceptance is important because it is often compounded by the attempt to fight or suppress anxiety. This perpetuates the debilitating dread of anxiety. But to accept your fear is not to like it or to condemn yourself to a wretched life. It only means you’d accept reality as it is–and reality includes anxiety in that moment. It is less than desirable to experience anxiety, but it is not unbearable. It helps to eliminate embarrassment, shame, anxiety, and obligation for trying to fix or judge yourself.

2.       Question your thoughts.

If people are anxious, their brains begin to come up with all kinds of unrealistic thoughts, many of which are highly unlikely and doubtful. These thoughts only increase the already anxious state of a person.

For example, your employer would ask you to give a presentation at a work event. Thoughts like “Oh my God, this is not something I can do. It’s going to kill me, ” could run through your brain. Know this isn’t a tragedy. In fact, no one died giving a presentation. The worst thing that will happen is that some people will get a few chuckles and that they will have forgotten about your presentation by tomorrow.

Ask yourself these questions when challenging your thoughts:

  •  What’s the evidence that the thought is true? That it’s not true?
  • Is there a more positive, realistic way of looking at the situation?
  •  What’s the probability that what I’m scared of will actually happen? If the probability is low, what are some more likely outcomes?
  •  Is the thought helpful? How will worrying about it help me and how will it hurt me?
  • What would I say to a friend who had this worry?

3.   Use a calming visualization.

Practice the following meditation on a regular basis, which will make access easier if you are anxious.

Imagine yourself in a favorite park, beach on or outside on the riverside. Observe leaves passing by the river or clouds floating through the sky. Place your fears, thoughts and feelings in your clouds and leaves and watch them flow through.

This differs greatly from what people usually do. In general, we assign certain qualities such as good or bad, right or wrong, to emotions, thoughts and physical sensations. It also exacerbates anxiety. Always remember this is only information.

Wait, relax and note what’s going on now. Even if something serious happens, concentrating on the current situation will improve your management skills. Although you’re anxious, you can live your life, and you’re going to get things done. Get busy with life.