Anxiety is defined as, “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome”. I don’t know anyone who has not experienced anxiety at some point in their lives. As a therapist and a coach, I work with individuals who have anxiety that they feel is negatively impacting their day-to-day living. Whether due to panic attacks, being distracted being unable to take action due to all the worrisome thoughts, by lacking confidence due to all the things they are worried about, or other reasons related to anxiety and worry, some individuals cannot function the way they want to due to their anxiety.
The good news is that there are things that can be done to reduce feelings of anxiety. Please note, that although I am a licensed therapist the suggestions in this article are not a replacement for formal one-on-one therapy. If you are experiencing significant anxiety and/or are having any concerns related to safety, please seek local treatment right away.
One thing that is important to keep in mind is that anxiety is always caused by your thoughts. It is never caused by situations or circumstances that occur around you. Often, we think that the things happening around us cause us to have anxiety, however, it is always what we think about them that causes the feelings of anxiety. That is why two people can experience the same exact situation and have two very different responses to it. When you understand this, it is very empowering because you understand that YOU control how you feel, by learning to control what you are thinking.
You know the old question that asks people is they are someone with a “glass half full” or “glass half empty”, right? “Glass half full people” tend to look on the bright side of things, tend to be more optimistic, and tend to expect good things will happen. “Glass half empty” people tend to look for the worst-case scenario, tend to be more pessimistic, and tend to expect bad things to happen. If you identify as being in the “glass half empty” category, don’t worry and don’t feel bad about it. Your brain is naturally designed to keep you safe and warn you about bad things that could happen. Notice that I said “could” happen and not “are going to happen”. Your brain will look for all the potential bad things that could happen (even if the likelihood is a tiny percent) because it thinks that if you are aware they might happen, you can protect yourself from them and therefore from feelings like hurt, failure, sadness, embarrassment, etc.
If you listen only to the “glass half empty” scenarios that your brain will try to feed you, it will result in you feeling more anxious and worried about things that are very unlikely to happen. In doing this, it will also have you miss out on most, if not all of the “glass half full” scenarios”. The longer this occurs, the more ingrained this way of thinking becomes.
The good news is that there are things that you can do to change your brain’s “glass half empty” default mode. Each of the strategies below allows you to intentionally have your brain consider more possibilities than just the worse-case scenario outcomes. When this occurs, you experience less stress, worry, and anxiety overall. The key to each of these strategies is that you do them consistently. A little bit, consistently over time, is much more powerful than doing them sporadically.
So, if you are interested in reducing your anxiety level, commit right now to practicing these strategies consistently. Make yourself a priority so that you don’t need to live with the level of stress or anxiety you have been experiencing. You deserve it.
5 Strategies to reduce anxiety.
Practice gratitude. Every day, write down 3 things you are grateful for. This may sound like it is not connected to what we are talking about, however, it very much is. When you practice gratitude, you are intentionally forcing your brain to notice positive things each day. The more you do this, the more your brain will start to do this on its own. When you are seeing more positive things on a daily basis, your overall thinking patterns become more positive, and you become more of a “glass half full” person.
Write down 1-3 “wins” each day. At the end of each day, write down 1-3 things that went well for you during the day. Again, this will force your brain to recognize the positive things that you are doing and that are happening for you, rather than searching only for the negative things. Over time, it will start to see these without you needing to be as intentional about it. Seeing the “wins” each day will boost your confidence, help you feel more successful, and help you be willing to try things that are outside your comfort zone.
When you notice a “glass half empty thought”, challenge it. Ask yourself if it is 100% true. Ask yourself what percent chance it is likely to happen. Doing this helps you keep your thinking in perspective and prevents you from believing everything your brain tries to tell you about the bad things that “could” happen.
For every “glass half empty thought”, write down two alternative “glass half full” thoughts. If you are someone who has become accustomed to “glass half empty” ways of thinking, it can be challenging to change this, so doubling down can speed up the process. When your brain wants to offer you a thought that something bad it likely to happen, write down two other outcomes, that feel more positive, and that you can believe. Over time your brain will consider these outcomes as much as they will consider the negative outcomes, if not more.
Surround yourself with positive people. If you are surrounded by people who complain, who think only bad things will happen, and who are negative by nature, it will be very difficult for you to be someone who is a “glass half full” person. If, however, you surround yourself with people who are positive, who focus on what is possible, and who tend to look for what good outcomes can come from a situation, you will experience more and more of this. If you are looking for a positive community of like-minded women who support each other, offer motivation and inspiration, and cheer each other on, join my Live Your Best Boss Lady Life Facebook group by clicking HERE. I would love to see you in there!
None of these strategies are meant to take much time, however, if done consistently, they can result in a reduction of stress, worry, and anxiety. Remember, how you think is what creates any anxiety or stress you experience. When you change how you think, you change how you feel. Once you start to see the benefits of this, you will feel empowered because you will know you have more control than you ever thought possible.
If you are feeling like you want to fast track your progress and get some specific one-on-one support (and you are not in crisis or experiencing any significant mental health concerns or unsafe thoughts), consider coaching with me. I will help you implement these strategies and more to get you feeling how you want to feel even faster. To learn more about coaching with me, click HERE.
You’ve got this and I am here cheering you on!
Live Your Best Boss Lady Life.
Karen Vincent Solutions