Anxiety manifests itself in people in different ways. Sometimes it can lead to panic, other times it’s circulating thoughts. Around 40 million adults in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder, and even those who aren’t diagnosed can still have feelings of anxiety from time to time and can find themselves in a loop of anxious thoughts. Anxious thoughts can be triggered by a variety of things, such as work obligations, scheduling, a fight with a family member, or a big event coming up. Those are the things in our control, and in addition, there are other triggers outside our control like current events and other issues the world is facing these days. But anxiety does not have a quick fix. Usually, anxiety is treated with therapy, medication, or a combination of both. But there are some tools you can use to help slow you down and get a grip on your thoughts.
In order to create a stable baseline, it’s important to get an ample amount of sleep, include physical activity in your day, and eat a balanced diet. But there are ways to calm any anxiety and stress you may be experiencing. You could start your mornings by setting an intention. Instead of checking the news or the weather on your phone the second you wake up, you can instead take a few minutes to set an intention for your day, for example, “Today, I intend to go with the flow and do my best.” The next thing you can do is invest in a planner. When you have a list of things that you can cross off once complete, your brain has something it can grab on to and it gives you one less thing to think about. According to Catherine Athans Ph.D., a certified trauma and marriage therapist, “Racing around with thoughts going every which way sets the stage for feeling anxious about what you have to do. When you write things down, it helps you get a better view of what you’re doing so you don’t become overwhelmed.”
Another beneficial thing you can do is journal your thoughts. Putting pencil to paper helps to really sit down with your thoughts instead of them taking over. According to Ernesto Lira de la Rosa, Ph.D., a New York City clinical psychologist, journaling “may sound counterintuitive, but scheduling your worry time will allow you to have some control of your anxious thoughts. Because anxiety can prevent us from staying present in the moment, telling yourself that you’ve set aside time later to stress can help your brain let those anxious thoughts pass through. When any anxious thoughts pop into your brain during the day, you can remind yourself that you have scheduled a certain time to deal with them later, this way you aren’t burdened by them all day.