It’s common for those with an anxiety disorder to be constantly bombarded with anxious thoughts. Excessive anxiety can also cause health problems, increase stress, and can greatly impact the enjoyment of someone’s life. Anxiety itself is a natural response and is used by the body to protect you from danger. It becomes a problem when your body cannot regulate it correctly. Therapy and sometimes medication is needed to help people regulate their anxiety.
Anxiety doesn’t have to be a bad thing. As mentioned before, anxiety is natural, like anger and sadness. It’s possible to cope with anxiety in a healthy way that is both positive and productive. Part of the process of healing is to accept that you have these worries, understand them, and then make them work for you. Here is what you can do to have your anxiety work for your benefit.
See a Professional About Your Anxiety
The first thing anyone should do when anxiety becomes too much is to make an appointment with a mental healthcare professional. A treatment plan is vital not only to treat your anxiety disorder but to teach you useful skills to cope with them. Anxiety often requires one to retrain the brain through therapy to help them process their anxiety.
Sometimes medications will help in regulating the parts of the brain that control your flight or fight response. Not everyone needs medication, but some find benefits in using them. It’s up to you if you want to give them a try. Just remember to never start or stop medication without the oversight and help of a doctor.
A professional will never ridicule or judge someone for needing help. It doesn’t matter how “weird” the phobia or how severe the anxiety is. A professional is always waiting and willing to help you.
Learn to Channel Anxious Thoughts Into Motivation
Sometimes a person can feel anxious without it becoming so bad that it becomes debilitating. In these cases, a person feels more alert and restless than anything else. With practice, a person can recognize when this happens and can use that energy to help mitigate what is making them anxious. For example, if someone starts to become anxious about their health, they may use the building energy to give them the motivation to call the doctor. Another person might use the same energy from the same worry to help them complete a physical workout.
You don’t always have to use the energy in direct relation to what is making you anxious. Plenty of people harness this energy for artistic purposes. Art is an effective form of therapy that can be done from home. Sometimes using your hands and your body can help lessen the impact of anxiety. As a result, some people choose to engage in a hobby that will help them use up this energy to prevent it from building up in the body.
Figure out what it is you would like to personally spend your energy on. It’s perfectly valid to use this energy to do simple chores instead of making some grand artistic masterpiece. The important thing is to recognize and use this energy for something you need and enjoy before it becomes overwhelming and negative.
Learn to Identify Helpful and Unhealthy Anxious Thoughts
Anxiety, as mentioned before, is how your brain protects your body from harm. Sometimes you have helpful anxiety. These are anxious thoughts you can act on productively. Being anxious about a dead tree falling on your house when there is an actual dead tree outside is something you can actively fix and change. You can do this by calling a professional to remove the dead tree. If you are scared of presenting a paper in front of a classroom, you can acknowledge your anxiety and practice coping skills to help you practice your presentation.
Unhelpful anxiety is when you worry about something that is not only unrealistic but unable to be changed. For example, you may become frightened about the idea of a car crashing into your house, even if you are miles away from roads or major highways. You can do nothing to alleviate this fear, so all it does is fester and cause you harm.
Spending time being anxious about things you cannot change is not productive. However, you can learn how to tell when a worry is worth spending time over. This can be done with the help of a therapist, who can then help you learn how to either let go of unproductive worries or channel that negative energy into something useful.
Accept Your Anxiety and Then Reframe It
It’s important to understand that it’s impossible to completely erase anxious thoughts from your mind. Anxiety will always happen because it’s part of the body’s defense system. There will always be moments that make you worry, so don’t spend valuable time attempting to never worry again. It is an impossible task that will only set you up for failure. By accepting your anxiety, you prove to yourself that you are more than your anxiety. You are a person with hopes and dreams, and your desires are valid. That is what matters.
Once you have accepted your anxiety, now it’s time to reframe it. You need to ask yourself what is making you feel so nervous, then spin the narrative. If you are frightened about being attacked when you know you are safe, you reframe it as you being vigilant instead. Vigilance is being aware and strong, which is more positive than simply being afraid. It’s a way to reclaim your emotions and make them something to be proud of. A therapist can help you brainstorm ways to rewrite your anxiety to make it work for you.
These are small but simple ways to help anxious thoughts work for you. Remember that professional help is the best help, and don’t be afraid to call for help when needed.
Anxiety is a normal part of everyday people’s lives. It’s how our brain responds to danger and protects us from harm. It becomes a serious issue, however, when this part of the brain becomes overreactive and causes constant fear and stress. Then it becomes an anxiety disorder, which is a mental health disorder that affects millions of people around the world. At Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, we offer treatments designed to help those with an anxiety disorder find peace again. We treat not only the symptoms but the underlying cause of the anxiety in the first place. If you or someone you love are struggling with too much anxiety, call (949) 647-4090 today.
Melody is a highly skilled proactive clinical administrator, with more than 17 years of experience serving the community in the behavioral health field.
Her clinical management career started in 2011 as a compliance manager and program director. In 2018, she became an executive as chief clinical officer (CCO). She is a seasoned licensed marriage & family therapist.