The Ancient Roots of Anxiety
As a mental health counsellor, I would like to emphasise that the intrusive thoughts which often underlie anxiety have a historical purpose. In the days of early human evolution, these thoughts served as a protective mechanism to keep individuals safe from harm.
Our ancestors who were more fearful and alert were more likely to survive than those who were carefree. This legacy has been passed down to us, and even though we now live in a modern world, we still have these evolved traits.
It's important to recognise that these thoughts do not reflect who you are as a person. You are not your thoughts but rather an observer of them. Once you understand this, you can start to take control and manage them more effectively.
One way to do this is to simply acknowledge the thoughts when they occur. Don't suppress them, just let them pass like clouds in the sky. Try imagining yourself sitting in a cinema and the thoughts appearing on the screen in front of you. This can help you view the thoughts as separate from yourself and choose whether to dismiss them or not.
As a mental health professional, I can provide more comprehensive guidance and support. However, it's important to remember that these thoughts are not a part of your true self, and you have the power to manage them. Techniques such as breathing exercises, mindfulness practices, and other distractions can effectively reset the mind and reduce anxiety.
Allow me to share a technique that has worked well for me in the past.
I went through a severe period of anxiety a few years ago. I could not get a good enough handle on whatever I tried. My therapist gave me a good coping mechanism: make a note of the thing that "could go wrong" - the object of your anxiety- and allocate time for worrying about it.
All these circular thoughts and anxieties throughout the day and night were keeping me up with this extra unbridled negative energy. So, I kept notes on my phone when the anxieties popped up and allocated 6 pm as my worry time, setting a reminder to re-evaluate all the things that had popped up throughout the day (and night) at that time.
What I quickly realised was when it came to worry time, a lot of the anxieties had passed and were no longer relevant or hadn't materialised. This helped give context to those feelings as they arose and better control my response to them. It became a particularly useful tool when trying to sleep, as it consciously deferred the anxiety until I decided to deal with it later, giving me control where there was none.
This technique helped me gain a clearer perspective on my feelings, and better manage my responses to them, and may well do the same for you. There are many ways to help with anxiety, and none of us needs to be a slave to it.