I keep telling myself that I’m not superwoman, nor am I a cavewoman being pursued by a woolly mammoth, but it doesn’t help. I’m a worrier, not a warrior, and I’m always on the look out for advice about how to stop worrying, and tips for understanding anxiety better.
As I’ve got older I’ve become more anxious, and these days any instruction I can glean about beating anxiety and how to stop worrying gets added to my own self help arsenal.
Antony Kidman PhD, a clinical psychologist, suggests some helpful techniques to stop worrying, how to stop being anxious, and ways to cope with anxiety.
“Sit or lie quietly for 10 – 20 minutes, tightening or relaxing the muscles in your body, working from your feet up through your neck and face. At the same time, become aware of your breathing and, in your mind’s eye, imagine a pleasant scene, something from the past, perhaps, that was particularly enjoyable. Yoga and meditation sessions are also quite helpful.”
“Listen to the radio, play your favourite music, write a letter, do a crossword puzzle.”
“There is good evidence that Aerobic activity, such as fast walking, jogging, swimming, exercise and fitness classes reduce worrying thoughts and feelings of anxiety.”
Let’s get things straight
Thoughts are not facts, so don’t create problems that aren’t there, says Kidman. The goal is to change self-defeating worry to an appropriate concern.
5 Tips to Help You Stop Worrying
These are some of the things which I’ve found helpful if I’m feeling anxious.
- Write your worries down and provide a rational response to them, as if you are an outsider looking in.
- Be like Scarlet O’Hara … if you wake up in the middle of the night worrying about something then tell yourself firmly: “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”
- Understand that nobody is immune to difficult circumstances and problematic situations, because they are part of the human condition.
- Choose to approach challenges with mindfulness, and decide to deal with them rationally in a problem solving way.
- We can’t have ‘no worries’, but we can have ‘smaller worries’. We need to work on dealing with problems as they arise in a positive way, one bite at a time so they don’t escalate into huge, anticipated worries
Anxiety at night
I often wake in the night with the ‘un-named dread’ tugging at my heart and with my heart pounding, appear to be in high alert flight or flight mode – for no apparent rational reason.
Then I’m up, padding around the house in midnight darkness, wondering just what it is I’m worrying about.
Does this happen to you too?
It never used to be like this. No siree. I’d be fast asleep and deep into dreaming, moments after I’d sung the children to sleep, my eyelids closing faster than lightning strikes. Yet these days, it seems as if my body has told my mind that it must not rest, but must remain vigilant in order to keep me alive.
Is it my hormones I wonder?
What! You can’t sleep?
Years ago I’d pooh pooh anyone who told me they couldn’t sleep at night.
“Insomniac! Ha! All you need is a couple of kids, a frantic schedule, and a week of sleepless nights – you’ll soon learn to fall asleep and stay asleep in the twinkling of an eye – and not wake up until you’re woken up.”
Yes, that’s what I’d laughingly tell them. Well now the hobnailed boot is well and truly on the other foot.
Seems like I lose all perspective once I fall asleep, and it doesn’t take much for my thoughts to become negative and often fearful, and this generally happens in the dead of night.
On the face of it my worries are futile and small fry. Thankfully, I don’t live in a war zone, and Australia is politically stable.
My family are all okay.
So what do I worry about?
Well little things I guess, and a fair amount of anticipatory anxiety.
The sad fact is that I let small containable worries spiral, and I reckon I can bring my mind to it’s knees so that the fight or flight mode kicks in just a couple of hours after I’ve got to sleep.
I can worry about my family incessantly.
I can worry about not doing enough exercise.
I can drive myself crazy thinking I’m not good enough.
I cannot stop thinking about this blog and ways to make it more helpful and entertaining.
I worry about the future.
I get anxious about travel.
Anxiety about travel
Take travelling for instance – ironic really … because this is from someone who has re-located internationally 11 times, and many more if you count house moves.
I can get myself in quite a tizz thinking about planning and then packing for a trip. I never used to. I’d just get on and do it. Book the flight, the cheapest flight (didn’t even matter if it stopped to refuel in small countries where missionaries fear to tread), grab the back packs and off we would go. And I’m talking here about long haul flights with a couple of changes along the way with a baby and toddler in tow. I thought it was easy.
Now though I tend to think everything through; foreshadoing every possibility and thinking through what might happen in the future given this or that happening – have I written down all my contact numbers, ticket/passport (I check this dozens of times), should I catch a train or a bus, how long will the wait be, what happens if the plane is delayed – does it matter if I stay one day less at …or one day more at … which would be better?
It is definitely not a prescription for worry free happiness, quite the opposite in fact – wears me out.
Oh for inner peace! I bought this little sign when I was in England.
When it comes down to any kind of anxiety it’s important I think to remember that we can’t ignore problems, or life challenges as they occur, but we can put them into a problem-solving perspective.
Footnote, Thanks, and a Book about staying sane in the fast lane.
I related to Antony Kidman’s words of wisdom and you might like to check out more of his work. He’s a clinical psychologist and has written a book: “Staying Sane in the Fast Lane: Emotional Health in the 21st Century” published by New South Books.
What do you do to stop yourself getting into a tizz and worrying?
What is your number one way of relaxing?
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