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9 Ways to Calm Your Anxious Mind

Published: 8:15 AM on October 06, 2020

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 global pandemic has disrupted the state of our lives. Over the past few months, ‘new normals’ have since been instituted in personal and professional spheres as the slow but determined movement forward out of the crisis begins to build momentum. But amid this uncertainty of the future, anxiety can creep in. Such thoughts if allowed to take root can be stressing and debilitating.

Here are nine (9) strategies adopted from Psychology Today that you can consider the moment when anxiety tries to take hold:

See your anxious thoughts as guesses, not evidence.

Your mind is trying to protect you by projecting what might happen so you can be steered away from danger— but just because something could happen doesn’t mean it will. Instead, try to discern which thoughts are fact from fiction based on actual evidence of the situation, and even see if positives can be achieved.

Try Cognitive Defusion.

Think of your thoughts as options of a scenario, rather than as the truth of the matter. For instance, if you hold both of your hands about two inches in front of your face, all you can see are your hands. But if you extend your arms further from you, you can still see your hands, but also everything else in the room. In the same vein, once you’ve allowed your mind to pull away from and identify the negative thoughts, you can begin to reframe them positively.

Practice Mindfulness.

Observe your thoughts, rather than reacting automatically to them. Be conscious of what your thoughts are, and their effect on you before rushing to action.

Focus on Direct Experience.

As those anxious thoughts creep in, ask yourself, what is your experience in the present moment? Is this something that is happening or something that might happen? Don’t fixate on what could be, focus on what is.

Label Things.

Label the type of thought you are having, rather than paying attention to its content. Are your thoughts “criticizing” or “worrying”? This gets you away from the literal content of your thoughts and makes you more aware of your mental processes. Once you know the type of thoughts you’re having, you’re better positioned to manage them.

Stay in the Present.

The mind can sometimes reference past hurt to predict the resolution to a current trauma. Just because something negative happened in the past doesn’t mean it will happen today. Acknowledge and own your ability to choose to recognise, navigate through and/or leave a bad situation.

Broaden Your View.

Anxiety makes our minds contract and focuses on the immediate threat without considering the broader context. Take a moment to pause, step back and see the situation in the context of its wider reality.

Get Up and Get Going.

Worrying over an issue without creating a solution will not help you solve the problem. When your mind is stuck in a loop, you can interrupt it by getting up and moving around or doing a different task or activity. The change of environment or focus can lead to a refreshed perspective on the matter.

Decide Whether a Thought Is Helpful.

Just because a thought is true does not always mean that it is helpful to focus on. Focus your attention on what is helpful and let the rest go.