The Best Way to Cope with Anxiety and Worry
"My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes, most of which have never happened.” - Michel de Montaigne
There are many ways to deal with anxiety but one of the best approaches to cope with anxiety is to evaluate your thoughts. We have thousands and thousands of thoughts each day, and yes, it is impossible to evaluate all your thoughts, but the thoughts you can evaluate are the "negative thoughts" that are connected to your anxious mood. These thoughts can include catastrophizing thoughts, overgeneralizing thoughts, or "black and white" thinking.
There are various ways to evaluate and analyze your thoughts, but below I provide one way to do that. After you are done with this activity that includes seven steps you should have insight on how some of your thoughts are associated with anxiety. You may find that the more you practice doing the seven steps, the intensity of your anxiety will begin to diminish.
I recommend writing this down and even journaling about your thoughts beforehand.
1. What is your negative thought?
Identify a thought that causes you to worry or feels like a negative thought. Perhaps a thought that does not serve you or a thought that is pessimistic.
2. Where do you think that thought comes from (the origin)?
This may or may not be simple. So try to identify when you began thinking this way. Did you learn it from your parents? Did the thought/s start after an adverse experience?
3. How powerful is that thought on a scale of 1-10, ten representing the highest intensity?
Now rate how intense and real this thought is to you. Ten represents very real, and you feel the thought will become your reality.
4. What would be the consequences if you continue to think this way?
Ok, we are in step # 4, yay! Step four is a significant step. Think about what the consequences will be if you continue thinking this way. Perhaps you may lose out on an opportunity because of the worry. Or maybe you will continue to feel anxious or find yourself not living up to your dreams.
5. Reframe your thought.
What is a positive and realistic way to reframe your thinking? For example;
Negative Thought: Everything goes wrong in my life.
Reframed Thought: Although this____ went wrong, I can handle the challenges and make a plan for repair.
6. What benefits can come to you if you adopt the new thought in your life?
Make a list of benefits that will come to you if you develop a positive way of thinking. Perhaps you will take on a new challenge or reduce the worrying.
7. How real does the new thought feel like (on a scale of 1-10)?
AND finally, step seven! Now, rate how real the new thought feels like to you, ten representing, I am totally feeling this new thought, and one representing, not feeling anything at all (which hopefully you won't)!