The following is a helpful article from one of our student bloggers.
Facing confronting situations or aspects of our daily lives that cause anxiety within us can be very difficult to conquer. Often people will avoid these situations in order to remove an anxiety response from their minds. This can prevent many from moving forward in certain areas of their lives, or impede on activities they wish to pursue. I will discuss a few simple ways anyone can implement in order to face these occurrences, perhaps change their perspective and forge ahead.
The first technique is partially an aspect of mindfulness. Reframing the way you think about a scenario can have a major impact on the way you react, when presented with the circumstance. Often when we feel anxious about a certain happening we tend to think about the worst-case scenario. When you find yourself spiraling down this path of destructive thought, re-write the story. Instead of filling your mind with negative blocks relating to the anxiety provoking event, come up with best-possible outcomes. Picture a safe and peaceful ending to the nightmare you imagined, and try to focus on this. The more you do this, you might find that the once fearful situation changes to one of a neutral stance, or even one you’re comfortable to undertake. A change in viewpoint can condition your mind to associate the situation with a contented outcome. Thus removing the apprehension from your thoughts.
Keep a journal. Writing down what we feel anxious or scared about can often assist us in releasing certain emotions attached to events or scenarios. Expressing how you feel on paper can aid in removing some of the pressure from our internal struggles. After you have written down what you feel scared or anxious about, try and come up with rebuttals to those points. Tie in evidence that diminishes your fears. Effectively creating counterarguments to the fears you are experiencing. Turn to and read these when you feel anxious or uneasy about the same scenario. This technique aims to reinforce constructive thought and reduce anxiety related to situations in our lives.
Break it down. Take the situation or happening you feel anxious about and separate it into smaller, less overwhelming steps. Just try starting with something you feel comfortable doing, and gradually increase these experiences until you have achieved the goal that once made you feel distressed. For example, if you have social anxiety but have to attend a function. Perhaps plan on going with a friend or speaking to a specific co-worker once you’ve arrived. Create a goal for the evening. Perhaps just smile and greet three people. The steps can be as small or as large as you feel suited. If you feel overwhelmed with your first step, then make It smaller. Until you feel that what you’re dealing with is achievable. After you have accomplished each step, reward yourself and then try the next phase. This will gradually rewire your brain so that the situation you once feared becomes something you don’t have to worry about. This technique is challenging, but with time will build confidence and assist in decreasing anxiety related to targeted events.
These are just a few minor self implementing techniques you can try. If your anxiety is something you feel you cannot cope with alone, you should definitely contact a psychologist or seek further advise from resources around you.
Psychology Student, The University of Melbourne.