Have you ever felt anxious? Maybe you had a job interview or an important presentation and it made you nervous. Can you imagine feeling that way all day long, or at least for portions of the day – everyday? This is the burden carried by those of us who suffer from anxiety disorders.
Here’s some of the things we think when we’re anxious. Bear in mind this list is not exhaustive and it is different for every one of us. But these are some common themes.
1. We Don’t Want to Be Alone
Many of us with anxiety fear being by ourselves. It leaves us in a vulnerable position as we’re then free to worry endlessly. These anxious thoughts can in turn escalate into a full blown panic attack. None of us want to be alone when that happens.
2. We’re Afraid of Messing Up
After some time, anxiety can begin to affect your self-esteem. We start to believe that we are not capable of carrying out tasks that once came so easily to us. Something simple like making dinner for the family can become an enormous feat.
3. We Hate Our Lives
When we experience chronic illness, we can become desperate. We feel negative about everything and depression often develops for people with anxiety. People who have anxiety with depression get caught in a spiral of negative thinking and need a lot of support to help manage their condition.
4. We Fear Having Panic Attacks
This fear is so real for many of us. Not knowing when the next one is going to strike makes it all the more difficult to manage.
5. We Avoid Situations and People
Not being able to face people is a stark reality of anxiety. We fear being found out and we fear not being able to take part in the conversation. Sometimes we avoid certain situations like going to the pub or out for dinner. We fear not being able to find a parking space, getting lost, being left on our own – the list is endless. It’s just easier to stay in and read a book.
6. We Think We Are Sick
Worrying about having cancer and other serious illnesses is a common feature in generalized anxiety disorder. Sometimes we can’t be convinced that we are healthy despite medical evidence to prove it.
7. We’re Afraid of Dying
Most anxious thoughts are completely irrational and are not based in reality in any way. The fear for many of us with anxiety is that death is imminent – we worry for our families who will be left behind and we worry about all we have to do before our time comes.
8. We Worry About Fires
Many of us anxious people spend an inordinate amount of time checking and double checking locks, sockets and light switches. Trying to function on too little sleep is often the result of these obsessive thoughts.
We worry ourselves into knots over things that will probably never happen. We avoid situations that really aren’t a big deal and we isolate ourselves in the process.
But help is at hand. Here are some quick tips to help with anxious thoughts.
- Leave some time aside each day for worrying – say 15 minutes at 7pm every night. Leave it at that. That is the only time you are allowed to worry.
- Think in the now as much as you can. We need to be aware of the moment we are living in – this reduces worrying as we are not focusing on the past or the future.
- Use a gratitude book. Write down three things you are truly grateful for each day.
- Stand in a power pose (like Wonder Woman – hands on the hips with your legs apart) for 2 minutes to feel more powerful.
- Exercise, but not alone. Try to bring a friend along to keep you company so your mind is occupied and not wandering into negative places.
- Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is excellent for anxiety. It helps us to stop our negative thoughts and replace them with a more positive and rational alternative.