Anyone that has experienced anxiety will know how awful it is when you start to panic about something and it ends up being the only thing you can focus on. Once an anxious thought creeps in, it can take you on an entire adventure of fear, dread and an abundance of physical symptoms.
I like to have a handy anxiety toolkit ready for when this happens. It’s not a physical toolkit, it’s a mind toolkit of strategies and questions that help me get through an episode of anxiety. The questions help me to rationalise and challenge my anxiety to bring me back to reality. Once that happens, my physical symptoms start to fade and I feel like I can breathe again.
Here are my questions to ask yourself when you are feeling anxious.
- Can I look into the future? This one helps me a lot because it makes me think “well, obviously I can’t see into the future” and then I realise that the scenario in my head is just that, it’s in my head. I can’t know if it will play out the way I’m imagining.
- What evidence do I have to support my anxiety? Don’t answer this question based on your feelings at the time, base it on fact!
- What is the worst and best that could happen? Instead of focusing on just the worst scenario you are giving yourself that opportunity to think of a more positive, realistic outcome.
- How have I coped with this before? Remember a time when you were anxious but still made it through a situation and came out feeling better for it.
- What advice would I give to a friend in the same situation? I always find this one to be helpful because I know damn well that I wouldn’t tell my friends the same things I tell myself when I’m anxious. So ask yourself what advice you would give your friend. Would you tell them that their fears are reality or misleading?
Hopefully these questions will help you next time you start to feel those intrusive, anxious thoughts creeping in x