Being anxious means you are feeling fearful about something that could happen. Sometimes we don’t realise that fear and anxiety are the same thing. When you are feeling anxious, what you are really doing is worrying about a future event and expecting that the outcome will be negative. You might be worrying about something you expect to happen in the long term or something more immediate. The remaining tips on this page will discuss how to change that pattern of thought.
If your anxiety is specific to Covid19 you might want to check out the tips on reducing Covid Stress on that page.
Ask yourself these questions: What future situation do you fear happening? What would you like to change in your life? Are your fears realistic? Now finish this sentence: "if I was not anxious I would...".
Understanding what thoughts or actions are triggering your feelings, and being as specific about those as possible, is the first step to controlling your anxious stress. (But if by doing so you find that there is a real and present danger, and your anxiety is a rational response to that, then you need to take action about that situation and not about your anxiety).
Just because something bad has happened in the past does not mean that it will necessarily happen again in the future. But too often we find ourselves on full alert and over-agitated waiting for a bad situation to re-occur. Although the situation has long-since passed, and even if it is unlikely to happen again, we can remain on alert. Make yourself aware of what is just a memory of past events and what is realistically likely to happen again. You will feel more relaxed if you can distinguish memory from present danger.
When you are anxious it is normal that you want to avoid certain situations or events that trigger the anxiety. Of course avoiding situations that might trigger acute and severe anxiety is a good idea and you should do so. But in order to give yourself a chance to overcome the anxiety, you can learn to face situations in a controlled, step-by-step manner starting at a very low level. If you do so gradually you will eventually conquer that fear. There are tips on how to do this on the "Making Changes Tips" page of this website.
Sometimes our fears seem to have developed a life of their own. Maybe you learnt to be anxious through observing others who have treated the world as a fear-filled and dangerous place. If you cannot say what you are frightened about it is likely that you are just suffering from fear of the fear. You have learned to react to the world in this way, but you can now learn new ways of thinking and habits. If you recognise that this pattern applies to you, you can learn to control it. So ask yourself now: "is there anything I am fearing about the future?" If the answer is no, then your anxiety is just “fear of the fear”.
Worrying that other people think negatively about you is a very common fear. Nothing seems to corrode a sense of self-worth more. Does that apply to you? Very often, we inflate the extent to which others are thinking about us. Everyone has their own worries and concerns, and most of the time other people are thinking about themselves. Even if they once had some brief negative thought about you, then most likely they forgot soon after. People have short memories for others' failings. How would any politician stand again for election if that was not true? Put your fears to the test: Ask yourself how often are YOU thinking about the failings of others? Now look at the people around you and ask yourself "are they thinking about me, or about themselves?" The answers will surprise you.
Your thoughts can cause physical reactions. When you are fearful or anxious you may experience an increased heart rate, sweating, trembling and a host of other physical responses. You may still feel these sensations as you learn new habits to reduce your fear. Learning to control these physical responses will arm you with better skills to help you change your thoughts too.