Anxiety solutions

Health correspondent ( 28 July 2015 )

Practical ways to combat anxiety and get your mind back

Create a ‘worry slot’

Spend ten minutes a couple of times a day when you imagine the worst that could happen and become as anxious as possible. At the end of this time take some deep relaxing breaths (see Learn to relax, below) and let your worries go.

The idea is that by exposing yourself to a flood of anxious thoughts you 'de-sensitise' yourself until worry becomes boring and fades in significance.

Learn to relax

Physical relaxation and slow, calm breathing can help: by concentrating on physical relaxation you also allow your mind to relax and let go of what is troubling it. Pick a quiet time of day and find a place where you'll be undisturbed. Sit or lie down and consciously go from your toes to your head first tensing and then relaxing each group of muscles.

Get active

Physical activity is a great worry buster, partly because it's hard to worry when you're doing something physical and partly because activity helps release endorphins, natural calming chemicals produced by the brain.

Talk it over

Sharing your worries helps put them into perspective and can often throw a new light on them. Getting someone else's view of a problem can help you work out how to solve it more successfully, especially if your confidant takes an interest in whether you have taken any action.

Write it down

Write down your worries as they occur, noting exactly what you are thinking and, if the same worry recurs, write it down again in the same way.

Doing this will help you put your worries in perspective and see them for the repetitive thoughts they are. As it's a lot more time-consuming to write things down than it is to think about them you'll find that eventually worrying becomes more trouble than it's worth.

Think positive

Positive thinking techniques are the basis of what is known as 'cognitive therapy'. It concentrates on helping you look at any unrealistic ideas you may have that are undermining your confidence and making you feel worried.

Positive thinking can also help to look at the unconscious 'rules for living' that you may have set yourself, such as 'I have to be a perfect mother' or 'I can't be happy unless I succeed at what I do.'

Learning to examine your thoughts in this way and stopping automatic thoughts in their tracks can be of real benefit in combating worry.

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