Do you ever get a sudden knot in your stomach for seemingly no reason and your mind starts to focus on all of the negative things that it possibly can? That is exactly what it feels like when I’m anxious.
Despite being a generally go-with-the-flow, calm and collected type of person on the outside, I get anxious quite often. I get anxious because my own mind starts to sabotage me, when I start to feel like I’m not in control, or when I can’t tell what a person thinks of me even though I know I shouldn’t care.
I don’t know about you, but anxiety hits me right in the stomach. It’s a giant knot that feels like an anchor weighing me down. I can just be going about my business at work, feeling pretty content with life, and then all of a sudden a negative thought creeps into my head and BAM – there’s that knot.
Isn’t it funny how things that happen in the mind can show up as physical feelings?
And as soon as this anxiety creeps in, it consumes you. I usually have a million thoughts going on in my head, but when I’m anxious, I become so single-minded. I can’t be productive. All I can do is dwell on the issue and watch as the time slowly creeps by.
There was a time when I let this happen for months until I finally reached a point where I was tired of having my day disrupted by these ultimately useless feelings. I wanted to get to get to the root of the problem or at least find a way to deal with my feelings more productively.
In an attempt to calm down, I started keeping a log of my emotions throughout the day.
I wanted to see if certain times of the day were worse for any particular reason and if something was causing these feelings that I hadn’t noticed before. Here’s a sneak peak of what went down one day:
- 9:30a Feeling content
- 11:30a Feeling anxious
- 1p Feeling on top of the world
- 3:30p Feeling anxious
As soon as I started logging my feelings, I became profoundly aware of one thing:
These feelings come and go.
I was feeling content at one point in time, then a wave of dread came rolling in. Just as quickly as it came, it went away. The fact that I could clearly see that this wasn’t a permanent state was huge for me.
Often when I’m anxious, it’s because I’m thinking too far ahead in the future. I’m assuming that whatever situation I’m in right now is going to last forever. There’s this air of urgency. Like everything needs to be figured out right now.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that emotions, thoughts, and situations aren’t permanent. When I actually let this sink in, I realized that even if I experience anxiety in the future (which was undoubtedly going to happen), it wouldn’t be a permanent thing.
I began to feel free knowing that this feeling wasn’t going to stay with me forever.
Try this mindset shift:
The next time you’re feeling anxious, try to remember that you don’t have to do anything about your feelings and/or negative thoughts. You don’t actually have to fight anything or make it go away. Simply recognize this feeling as nothing more than a feeling and that you don’t have to attach any meaning to it. Trust that it will eventually quiet itself.
Now, this mindset shift isn’t going to solve your problems or help you overcome anxiety for good, but it might make your next anxious experience easier to handle.
Because I know it can be extremely difficult to shift your mindset when all you want to do is react, I have a suggestion for making this process a little simpler.
Keep a log of your feelings + thoughts
The next time you’re feeling anxious, worried, or uncertain, I encourage you to keep a log of your feelings and thoughts. Before you start attacking yourself or another person, write down what you’re feeling and why you think you’re feeling this way. Don’t go into it thinking you need to solve your problem or feel better about the situation. Just treat it as an experiment.
Write down or ask yourself the following questions:
- How might I be causing myself to suffer?
- Which thoughts do I know to be true?
- What information might I be missing or overlooking?
- Am I assuming anything?
- What is my intuition telling me?
- Will this matter tomorrow? In a year?
I also encourage you to write down or take note of those moments when you do feel content. Those moments are really precious, yet often go unnoticed because our brains are hardwired to remember negative experiences.
The next time your anxious mind wants to take control, try this technique and see what happens. I’m curious to know if it works for you like it worked for me!
Now, let me know…
How do you deal with anxious thoughts? Share any tips you have in the comments below!