Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Anxious? Ask these questions.

Everyone gets worried and nervous at times. But it seems more and more people are battling anxiety, a persistent, generalized fear. That’s just not the place we’re meant to live. While there isn’t a formula or quick fix for anxiety, there are some questions to ask yourself to slow down your anxious mind.

Do I have all the information?
Anxious minds are good for freaking out prematurely. This is because they’re proficient in anticipating disaster before it arrives. Anxious minds react to imagined possibilities, but calm minds respond to what’s before them. Calm minds deal with facts and the reality of what is, not what might be. Therefore, it’s good practice to shift from an emotional mind state to a logical mind state by asking if you have enough information to reach certain feared conclusions.

Will anxiety change the outcome?
The next good question to ask yourself is whether or not your worry will change the outcome. If you’re waiting for test results, wondering where you stand in a relationship, or looking for a call or email about a job, will your worry and rumination do anything to change the outcome? No. Probably not. At that point, it’s out of your hands. It’s important, then, to learn to calm and soothe that anxiety because it won’t change your situation.

What can I do?
A final question to ask is whether or not there’s anything you can do. A big part of managing anxiety is about discerning your locus of control. The big, scary thing might be out of your control, but you can usually find one or two things within your control. Maybe it’s getting more information on what concerns you. Maybe it’s distracting yourself until things play out. Maybe it’s reaching out for support. Maybe it’s reflecting on what the real fear, the one underlying the obvious fear, is. If you realize you’re equipped to handle the underlying fear, then the surface level fear doesn’t pack as much punch.

I think most would agree the world can be scary and life can be unpredictable. That’s enough to make any of us fearful at least sometimes. Fear is normal and even adaptive depending on what’s happening. It can also get in the way when it emerges too often and impedes our ability to function. When it does you can regain control by asking these three questions, knowing you can handle whatever the answers might be.

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