Worrying, over-thinking, second guessing constantly….a lot of people will identify with these as features of day to day life. Surprisingly common place, these can be significant drains on our energy, our emotional well-being and our ability to enjoy experiences. For some, these thinking patterns can, over time, edge towards much more significant experiences of anxiety and low mood. Can you think of a time when you’ve convinced yourself out of giving something new a go? Or perhaps a time when you’ve spent the day feeling tense and preoccupied, only to kick yourself later on for ‘worrying for nothing’? Most people can think of a time when they have laid awake at night thinking over something without being able to reach a resolution. So is there a way of tackling some of these experiences?
Gaining control over our thinking patterns is a skilful process; it takes time and discipline but can be done with support. A good starting point though is becoming more aware of how your thoughts are working and what impact worrying thoughts have on you. Is there a chance you’re overestimating the possibility of a bad outcome? Or perhaps the severity of that bad outcome? Are you questioning your ability to cope? What is your gut response to these scenarios? If it is to actively avoid situations, or to take excessive steps to minimise risk, then there’s a chance you may be inadvertently perpetuating your worry for next time. While it might not seem like it, it is often our thoughts and responses to things that create more distress than the situation itself.
Sometimes, the process of overcoming worry can be more broad than you might think. Increasing your overall sense of well-being and resilience can help you manage difficult times when they do arise. A good routine to support sleep and balanced eating can go a long way. Some form of regular movement or exercise can help clear your mind and encourage some energising endorphins to work their magic. Consider your work-life balance and what helps to manage your stress day to day. Doing things which make you feel good, purposeful and effective can give you a boost, while spending time with others can be very helpful in regaining perspective. Think about the expectations you’re holding yourself to and ensure any goals you’re setting are small and manageable.
It is worth making the point that for some people, experiences of anxiety are much more overwhelming and debilitating day to day. Anxiety can lead to significant physical symptoms and dominate our thoughts and feelings. There are an array of Anxiety Disorders and these can present differently from one person to the next. Often, these require additional input and support to overcome. If you experience many of the following symptoms, consider seeking further support. Treatment can be supportive, collaborative and most importantly, effective.
- Nausea, churning or upset stomach
- Fast and shallow breathing, feeling light headed
- Racing heartbeat, excessive sweating and red face
- Panic attacks
- Sense of dread, feeling nervous and on edge constantly
- Racing thoughts, preoccupation, ‘snowballing’ thoughts leaving you expecting the worst
- Avoidance, or feeling unable to do things you would normally do
- Feeling that others are looking at you, preoccupation with what others may think of you
- Obsessive thoughts, rituals, intrusive thoughts and urges
There is a strong evidence base behind Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for the treatment of anxiety; whether this is a short intervention of 6 sessions to support your understanding of anxiety and how to get on top of it to make day to day life less challenging, or a lengthier intervention to get you back to your best.
If you would like to discuss your experiences of anxiety further, or would like to set yourself a goal of overcoming intrusive and tedious thoughts of worry day to day, consider getting in touch.