Many people suffer from generalised anxiety and feelings of unease as a result of personal problems (past trauma, addiction, relationship issues, etc.) as well as external stressors, such as unemployment and layoffs, war and terrorist activities, etc. Some suffer from it despite having an outwardly appearance of a peaceful and prosperous life.
If you also tend to feel anxious often, here are some steps you can take to calm down and control your thoughts the moment anxiety starts taking over:
1. Breathe - Practise deep breathing with different breathing techniques. This is simple yet very effective for regaining a sense of calm.
2. Stay in the present - When you are catastrophising, you are living in the future as you are afraid of what might happen next. Snap out the moment you realise your thoughts are drifting and bring your focus back to the present moment by concentrating on your current task.
3. Accept your feelings - Acknowledge that you are feeling anxious and cannot control these feelings but also realise that your thoughts are simply temporary and not real events happening in your life.
4. Check facts - Consider whether your fears are actually realistic or not, and train your brain to think of alternate scenarios. You can actually think aloud or write them down in a journal, if it helps.
5. Rephrase - You can replace the negative stories your mind tells you with positive affirmations. For e.g., you can replace “I am going to fail” with “I am nervous but ready to do this.” If you face problems doing this, you can also listen to self-hypnosis audios available for free on YouTube, which will make powerful suggestions to your subconscious mind while you relax.
6. Do something - Interrupt your disturbing thoughts by doing something in that moment, such as changing your posture, clearing out your desk, going into another room or for a walk, calling a friend, taking a shower, making coffee, etc.
Following these steps can help reduce the time you spending stressing over small things. However, for any diagnosed anxiety disorders, it is important to consult a trained mental health professional regularly in order to find long-term strategies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy or medications, to manage severe anxiety and panic attacks.