The second step to beating anxiety is interrupting these thinking patterns when you spot them.
Here are 5 ways you can stop anxiety in its tracks:
1. Identify the Lie
Anxiety writes stories in our heads that aren’t true.
You can spot the lies in its story by staying in the present.
Whenever anxiety writes its story, stand firm in the present and evaluate outcomes based on what you know right now.
This will help you spot and interrupt the lie before it takes your mind down the wrong path.
2. Lean Towards Faith and Wisdom
There’s a healthy and unhealthy way to view fear—and your view will impact your level of anxiety when you feel fear.
When your body says, “I’m in danger,” you can choose one of two responses:
1. Resort to “What If” thinking and anxiety
2. Move towards faith and wisdom
A woman entering a dark store parking lot feels fear before walking to her car.
She can either move towards anxiety and think about all the bad things that might happen, saying, “I’m going to get mugged. I’m so stupid. Why did I do this?”
Or she could move to faith and wisdom saying, “I have the ability to get to my car safely.”
Wisdom tells her to be intentional about her actions to keep her safe. She:
- Gets her keys out of her purse before walking to her car
- Pays attention to her surroundings
- Keeps her thumb on the car alarm
- Maybe even asks a security guard to escort her Instead of resorting to “what if” thinking, she moves towards faith and wisdom to find courage. Your response to fear can either relieve or cause anxiety.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware and conscious of the present moment.
It’s a simple, but powerful concept.
Next time you feel anxious, try this simple mindfulness exercise:
Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
Breathe through your nose and count to 4 as you inhale. Then, count to 5 as you exhale through your mouth.
After a few minutes, pay attention to the sounds you hear around you. List off the things you hear.
This will help you tolerate the stress and anxiety you feel. It keeps you in the present moment and helps you know everything will be okay.
4. Set Healthy Boundaries
Just like property lines determine where your property begins and ends, personal boundaries give you structure that helps you maintain healthy relationships with yourself and others.
What does this look like?
Set rules regarding your words, actions, attitude, feelings, and relationships.
If a situation or relationship causes you anxiety (or is unhealthy in another way), create boundaries that keep them out of your life as much as possible.
That means doing things like:
- Moving away from an unhealthy relationship
- Surrounding yourself with positive, encouraging people
- Letting people know when they cross a boundary
- Healthy boundaries will help you reduce anxiety stemming from situations in your life you can control.
5. Create More Margin
Margin is the space between our workload and our limits.
It’s simple. We feel anxious whenever we pile too much on your plate.
The fix? Prioritize.
Which of your current responsibilities can be given to others who can help?
Which ones can be pushed off?
Are there any that really aren’t that important and could be removed from your to-do list altogether?
Constantly monitor your workload and consider which activities are important and which are adding needless stress.