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You are not your anxious thoughts.

Updated: 5 days ago

Why do we worry?

If I told you not to think of a busy road, what do you think is on your mind?

Now if I told you to cross that road, to get to the shop on the other side, how do you feel now?

Possibly a little anxious?

You may also have started to think about what you need to buy in the shop, have you got everything for dinner? Do you have enough food for the cat/dog for the next few days? Oh wait, didn't you run out of washing up liquid the other day? Isn't someone's birthday coming up, do you have a card at home?

How are those anxious thoughts going?

You see how one thought links onto another and another...

Then, before you know it, you feel so overwhelmed that you don't even want to leave the house.

Now stop and breathe...

Deep breath in... and out...

Anxiety is a perfectly normal part of our minds trying to work out a solution to a real, potential or imagined threat.

The majority of the time, it's a concern about something that may never happen. With the scenario I've given you, I'd expect some element of background anxiety at crossing a busy road. It's that healthy amount of anxiety that will stop you running into the road without looking! But to stop the anxiety becoming bigger than necessary and having an effect on your choices, there are things you can do to help.

One such thing is to bring focus to the emotion you're feeling. You may think this is an odd suggestion. 'Why would I want to focus on my uncomfortable feelings?', you may be thinking. But remember when I asked you not to think of that busy road? The thoughts are there already and by paying them attention we can help to dissipate their intensity.

Here's something I call, exploring the thoughts:

Think of an emotion, for example happiness.

Where in your body do you feel this emotion?

What does it feel like?

Does it have a colour? Size?

Just be with it now, spend some time with it.

Be curious, is it changing?

And when all the thoughts are done, slowly let the feeling slide away.

Your thoughts are like waves, they come, and they go. Allowing them to come and go enables you to stop trying to force your mind to quieten down. Trying to forcefully block the thoughts only makes them louder.

Practicing this mindful technique and bringing self-compassion to the situation can be helpful in acknowledging anxious thoughts, without getting entangled in them. By observing these thoughts, without judgment, you can gain a better perspective on them and learn to respond to them in a healthier and more constructive manner.

When you're in the moment it can be hard to be rational. After all the part of the brain that is trying to keep you safe is not the same place in the brain where rational thought takes place. For rational thinking to get bigger and anxiety to lower, (think of this like a pair of tipping scales) you need to take a breath, pause and maybe use the following tips to help.

Tips to calm the racing mind;

1) Remind yourself that your thoughts are just your brains way to keep you safe.

2) Tell yourself that you are safe. This sounds simple but it can be very comforting.

3) Use the 'exploring the thoughts' technique

4) Remind yourself that thoughts are separate from your true self.

5) Your thoughts are your mind trying to process things, not who you are.

6) Remember that these thoughts will pass, and calm will return.

If you find yourself struggling with anxiety or any other emotional challenges, it's always a good idea to seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional who can provide help.

I'm here to help you learn mindful techniques, like the one I've shared with you here and things like EFT can be incredibly helpful with the racing mind.

Remember, you are more than your thoughts and emotions, and it's okay to ask for help when needed. Anxiety is not who you are.

"You are not your feelings, you just experience them. You walk in the rain but you don't become the rain. You know the rain will pass." Matt Haig.

Go gently,

Karen 🌿

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