Mar 11, 2020 | By: Melissa Hudson, Ph.D., LMFT-Supervisor
How well do you recognize when you are beginning to get anxious? You're probably aware of when you get highly anxious and become irritable, jittery, scattered, angry, etc. Yet, your limbic system (the mammalian brain) experiences anxiety and prepares you to emotionally react at low levels of anxiety. Seems that these times are a good time to revisit anxious thinking.
"When your anxiety tolerance window is full, you are less likely to think rationally, to have creativity, to focus your thinking and problem-solving skills."
Everyone has an anxiety tolerance window. How large is yours? How would life be better if your tolerance window were larger? How would your relationships be better if you were less emotionally reactive? How do you cope when it feels like things are out of your control?
When your anxiety tolerance window is full, you are less likely to think rationally, to have creativity, to focus your thinking and problem solving skills. In other words, you cannot cope when your anxiety window is full. It's important to be able to recognize anxious thinking. When I find myself having anxious thinking (mine is often revolving around fear), I don't just believe it and let it run away with me. I try to slow it down, discern if it's helpful (leading to problem solving) or limiting (leading to catastrophizing) and then take action. Once you can identify reactive/anxious thinking then you can begin to apply strategies. And there are so many effective strategies, coping skills, etc.
"When you feel a glimmer of anxiety, it is a good technique to have a few mantras to help you, to calm yourself, and manage your anxiety."
Affirmations, mantras, coping statements...whatever you want to call them, they are a strategy to control your thoughts. You see, you talk to yourself more than anyone else, all day every day. If it is negative...well, that impacts you. If it is optimistic, realistic, rational, that impacts you, too. When you feel a glimmer of anxiety, it is a good technique to have a few mantras to help you, to calm yourself, and manage your anxiety. When you improve your skills at self-validating, self-soothing, calming yourself, and standing in deeper anxiety, you are more in charge of your emotional state and your life. And get this, each time you master a difficult situation you grow in self esteem and feel better about yourself and your ability to cope. Check out the list below:
I can handle this.
I have everything I need today.
I have survived much worse.
This too will pass.
I am beginning to get anxious.
This is a circus event and I will relax and enjoy the clowns.
I will go to that favorite place in my mind, it always calms me.
I will relax my body from the top of my head down to my toes.
Back off, this is not all that important in the scheme of things.
My kids are tough and will learn a lot from this difficult experience.
Others have had to deal with this and so can I.
I have done more difficult things than this in the past, so I can do this.
This is difficult, but I can handle it.
I am very capable and smart, so what is the big deal?
Tough times make for tough people.
In the past when I have faced difficult challenges, I always grew to be a better person.
A week from now, I’ll think this was easy.
I will choose to feel differently about this situation.
Procrastinating will not solve this issue.
What is it about this issue or situation that is bothering me?
Instead of being irritated by ________, I will choose to feel some empathy for him/her.
I have been in similar situations and succeeded, so I can do this.
I could choose to be angry, instead I will choose not to be angry.
I am feeling helpless, but I am not helpless, I am capable.
I am not going to let him/her set my emotional tone.
I will remain in charge of me and not become emotionally reactive.
I refuse to become crazy with this other person.
I refuse to join him/her in anger.
I will not let this --- (mess, thing, person) rent space in my head.
I won’t believe that.
I don’t have to explain myself.
Less is better.
That won’t make a difference in my life.
This isn’t going to take up space in my mind rent free.
I will not try to make sense out of nonsense.
I will not let others be in charge of my feelings.
What meaning can I put on this that is most helpful to me?
I will choose to see this differently.
Tomorrow will be a better day.
This is not about me.
Need help managing your anxiety? Let's talk soon.
My specialty is working with adults and couples to achieve the life you desire. I love working with anxiety because you can see and feel positive movement, and it will change every aspect of your life.
About the author: Dr. Melissa Hudson has been a Plano couples' therapist and licensed marriage and family therapist since 2012. She offices near the Shops of Legacy in West Plano conveniently located to serve the communities of The Colony, McKinney, Allen, and Frisco. She also specializes in working with those contending with depression and anxiety as well as a wide spectrum of other psychological concerns you can learn about here.