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Mental Health Awareness Week: 3 Tips for managing anxious thoughts

Having anxious thoughts can be a scary place. Not being able to trust your own mind or your own judgment can make you feel very alone and scared of what the next day will look like. The tendency to look towards the future in order to manage can become time-consuming and tiring, and not to mention, it can reduce your ability to enjoy your life.

Here are some of the ideas that myself and clients have found useful for managing anxious thoughts.

1. Reframe the belief of 'I am an anxious person'. You will notice that I have been mindful of using the term anxiety, and reframed it to 'anxious thoughts'. This subtle shift in language, from 'I have anxiety' or 'I am an anxious person' to 'I have anxious thoughts' enables you to create some distance between yourself and the experience. It becomes less entangled with your identity and who you are, and becomes more about your experience. The more times someone defines themselves by saying I am an anxious person, the harder it becomes to shift that rigid belief. Conversely, we know our experiences shift and change constantly. Therefore, by saying 'I am experiencing some anxious thoughts', or 'I am feeling anxious in my body' implies the idea that this will not last forever.

2. Reconnect with your body At times, I believe that Western culture may be partly to blame for anxiousness, as we are taught to use our heads from a very young age. Unless you were part of a family that discussed emotions and feelings (and if so, fair play!), it is likely that you use your head to come up with solutions for any problems you might have. Whilst of course, this is helpful at times, particularly if you are in work, or have a flat tyre, not all problems can be answered through thinking about it. In fact, not all problems have a solution. And a lack of solutions is where anxiousness can make an appearance.

We have a whole other 'brain' which takes in messages from the world, through sensation, feeling and emotion, and it is something we often neglect - you guessed it - the body. This is why we have terms such as 'gut instinct', 'I feel it in my bones' or 'follow your heart', because the body is a trusted source of wisdom also.

Therefore, getting to know your body better through meditation, mindfulness, yoga, exercise or body scans, can enable you to grow body awareness, and take the pressure off your thinking mind.

3. Inner critic work

Have you ever spent time listening to your anxious thoughts? What qualities do they have? Do they come in slow or fast, loud or quiet, and whose voice is it? Is it your voice, or is it someone else's?

You might not have considered this before, but psychologists call this 'meta-cognition', which is the act of thinking about thinking. This helps to grow self-awareness, and thus, the ability to learn about ourselves. In other aspects of psychology, the commentary we hear in our minds has been termed as an inner critic, or a critical voice. You may have been criticised as a child by a parent or teacher, and you may have internalised this voice (in other words, the critical commentary has become part of your nature). This may be the voice you hear when you have anxious thoughts.

This might be worth further exploration, and there is a whole host of literature around this topic. A brief but useful handout has been created here: However, if this feels like an uncomfortable place to go on your own, or you are not sure where to start, you should reach out for therapeutic support to guide you through this process.

An important note...

If you are reading this and experience anxious thoughts, I want to normalise your experience. Everyone gets them, and they are a part of your human experience, just like happiness or anger. No one can 'get rid of anxiety', however, the more we understand where it comes from and how it shows up in our lives, the more we are able to manage it successfully.

And as always, if you feel like these feelings are becoming too overwhelming, trained professional support should be consulted to support you at this time.

Over & out!



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