Did meditation completely remove your anxious thoughts?

Are you an expert in "worrying"? Constant concern creates stress

Everyone is worried. In fact, concern can be helpful in stimulating you to take appropriate action and solve a problem. However, people with high sensitivity tend to worry more than normal sensitive people. Do you know these thoughts: "what-if" and "worst-case scenarios"? When these or similar considerations keep you busy, worry becomes a stressful problem. Tireless anxious thoughts and fears can be debilitating. They can weaken your emotional strength, increase your physical stress levels, and affect your daily life. But chronic worry is a mental habit that can be overcome. You can train your brain to stay calm and see life from a more grounded perspective.

How Much Concern is Too Much?

Worries, doubts and fears are a normal part of life. It's natural to worry about an unpaid bill, upcoming job interview, or first date. But “normal” worries are stressful when they become persistent and uncontrollable. You then worry about many different things every day, you just can't get these thoughts out of your head, and they interfere with your daily life.

Constant worry, negative thinking and always expecting the worst can take a toll on your emotional and physical health. It can make you restless and nervous, cause insomnia, headaches, stomach problems and muscle tension, and make it difficult to focus on your work.

Why am I overly concerned?

If you suffer from constant worry, chances are that you are looking at the world in a way that makes it seem more threatening than it really is. For example, you may overestimate the possibility that things will go badly or treat each anxious thought as if it were true. You can also discredit your own ability to deal with life's problems, provided you become unsettled at the first sign of trouble. These irrational, pessimistic attitudes are known as cognitive biases.

Examples of cognitive biases that contribute to anxiety, worry, and stress include:

  • All-or-nothing thinking, looking at things in black and white categories with no middle ground. "If everything isn't perfect, I'm a failure."
  • Generalization from a single negative experience, in the expectation that it will remain true forever. “I didn't get the job. I will never find a job. "
  • Focusing on the negative and filtering out the positive. You notice the one thing that went wrong and not all of the things that went right. “I misunderstood the last question about the test. I'm an idiot."
  • You're looking for reasons why positive events don't count. "I did the presentation well, but that was just a coincidence."
  • Negative interpretations with no actual evidence. You act like a mind reader: ® “I know that she secretly hates me.” Or “I just know that something terrible is going to happen.”
  • In anticipation of the worst-case scenario. “The pilot said there will be some turbulence. The plane will crash! "
  • To believe that the way you feel reflects reality. “I feel like a fool. Everyone has to laugh at me. "
  • To stick to a strict list of what to do and what not to do and to judge yourself for breaking any of the rules. “I should never have tried to start a conversation with her. I'm such an idiot."
  • Labeling yourself based on mistakes and perceived shortcomings. "I'm a failure, I'm bored, I deserve to be alone."
  • Taking responsibility for things that are beyond your control. “It's my fault that my son had an accident. I should have warned him to drive carefully in the rain. "

Why is it so hard to stop worrying?

Although cognitive biases are not based on reality, they are difficult to give up because they are often part of a lifelong thought pattern that has become so automatic that you don't even fully notice it. You may think that worrying will ultimately help you find a solution to a problem or keep you from being surprised by something that happens in the future. You may think that worry is protecting you in some way, or even equating it with responsibility or caring.

However, in order to stop worries and fears for the good, you need to give up the belief that your concern is serving a positive purpose. Once you realize that worry is the problem, not the solution, you can turn off anxious thoughts and regain control of your worried mind.

Sensitive, highly sensitive people get out of the worrying vortex more easily if you reflect on your other qualities: your intuition, your powers of perception, your giftedness of the senses.

You can't just tell yourself to stop worrying.

Telling yourself to stop worrying doesn't work - at least not for long. You can distract yourself for a moment, but you cannot banish anxious thoughts forever. In fact, trying to do this often makes them stronger and more tenacious. You can try it out for yourself:

Close your eyes and imagine a pink elephant. As soon as you can see it in your head, stop thinking about it. Whatever you do, don't think about pink elephants for the next 60 seconds! How did you do Have thoughts about pink elephants crossed your mind? “Stopping Thoughts” backfires because it forces you to pay special attention to the thought you want to avoid.

You always have to pay attention to it, and this very emphasis makes it all the more important. Instead of trying to simply distract yourself, there are steps you can take to train your brain and change the way you view the world.

How to stop worrying too much

Tip 1: Press the pause button on anxious thoughts.

If you are overly concerned, it can seem like negative thoughts are running through your head with endless repetition. You can feel like you're going out of control, going crazy, or burning out under the weight of all that fear. But there are steps you can take to hit the pause button on anxious thoughts and take some time off from worry.

  • Get up and move. Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment as it releases endorphins, which relieve tension and stress, increase energy and increase wellbeing. More importantly, you can break the constant flow of worry running through your head by really focusing on how your body feels as you move. Pay attention to the feeling that your feet are touching the ground while walking, running or dancing, the rhythm of your breathing, the feeling of the sun or the wind on your skin.
  • Take a yoga or tai chi class. By focusing your mind on your movements and breathing, practicing yoga or tai chi keeps your attention on the present. This will help purify your mind and bring it into a relaxed state.
  • Meditation works by shifting your focus from worrying about the future or dwelling in the past to what is happening. By becoming fully immersed in the present moment, you can break the endless loop of negative thoughts and worries.
  • Practice progressive muscle relaxation. This can help you break the endless loop of worry by focusing your mind on your body rather than your thoughts. By alternately tensing different muscle groups in your body and then releasing them, you release the muscle tension in your body. And when your body relaxes, your mind will follow.
  • Try to breathe deeply. When you worry, you become anxious and you breathe faster, which often leads to further anxiety. But by practicing deep breaths, you can calm your mind and eliminate negative thoughts.

The relaxation techniques mentioned above offer immediate relief from worries and fears with regular practice of these techniques and the chance to change the brain in the long term.

Research has shown that regular meditation, for example, can increase activity on the left side of the prefrontal cortex, the area of ​​the brain responsible for feelings of calm and joy.

The more you practice, the greater the relief you will experience and the more control you will have over your anxious thoughts and worries.

Tip 2: talk about your worries.

It might seem like a simple solution, but talking face-to-face with a trusted friend or family member - someone who will listen to you without judging, criticizing, or constantly distracting - is one of the most effective ways to calm your nervous system and allay fears. When your worries start to turn, talking about them can make them seem far less threatening.

Keeping worries for yourself will only cause them to build up until they seem overwhelming. But if you say them out loud, you can often help understand what you are feeling and put things in perspective. If your fears are unfounded, verbalization can expose them for what they are - unnecessary worries.

And when your fears are justified, sharing with another person can produce solutions that you may not have thought of alone.

Tip 3: learn to postpone worries.

It is difficult to be productive in your daily activities when fear and worry dominate your thoughts and distract you from work or personal life. This is where the strategy of postponing worries can help. Instead of trying to stop or get rid of a fearful thought, give yourself permission to have it, but put off dealing with it later. This is one of the most effective exercises that worked very quickly for many of my highly sensitive clients.

Make an appointment with your worries! To do this, choose a specific time and place for the concern. It's so early in the day that you don't worry about going to bed. During your worried time, you can take care of what is on your mind. The rest of the day, however, is a worry-free zone.

Write down your worries. If you have a fearful thought or worry during the day, write it down briefly and then move on to your daily routine. Remind yourself that you will have time to think about it later so you don't have to worry now. Writing your thoughts down - on a pad or on your phone or computer - is also much easier than thinking about them right away. As a result, worries tend to lose their strength.

Go through your “worry list” during the worry phase. If the thoughts you wrote down are still bothering you, allow yourself to take care of them, but only for the time you gave for your worry phase. When you look at your worries this way, you will often find it easier to develop a more balanced perspective. And when your worries no longer seem important, just shorten your worry phase and enjoy the rest of the day. Use your worrying phases to challenge anxious thoughts.

Deferring worry is effective because it breaks the habit of dwelling on worry when you have other things to do. There is no struggle to suppress or judge the thought. You just save it for later. And as you develop the ability to shift your fearful thoughts, you will begin to realize that you have more control than you think. You can then use your assigned worry phases to challenge your negative thoughts:

  • What is the evidence that the thought is true? That it is not true?
  • Is there a more positive, more realistic view of the situation?
  • What is the likelihood that what I'm afraid of will actually happen? If the likelihood is low, what are the likely outcomes?
  • Is the thought helpful? How will worry help me and how will it hurt me?
  • What should I say to a friend who's been this worried?

Tip 4: Differentiate between solvable and insoluble worries

Research shows that while worrying, you may temporarily feel less anxious. Dealing with the problem in your head distracts you from your emotions and makes you feel like you can change something. But concern and problem solving are two very different things.

Problem solving is about evaluating a situation, working out concrete steps to deal with it, and then putting the plan into action. Concern, on the other hand, rarely leads to solutions. If you spend a lot of time dwelling on worst-case scenarios, you will no longer be ready to deal with them should they actually happen.

Is your worry solvable? Productive, solvable worries are those that you can act on right away. For example, if you're worried about your bills, you can talk to your creditors about flexible payment options. Unproductive, insoluble worries are those for which there is no appropriate action now. "What do I do if I get laid off one day?" Or "What about my job if I have to move?"

When the concern is resolvable, start brainstorming. Make a list of all the possible solutions you can think of. Try not to bother too much trying to find the perfect solution. Rather, focus on the things you have the power to change, rather than the circumstances or realities that are beyond your control. After you have evaluated your options, create an action plan, but make sure that it does not put your highly sensitive perception under pressure again. Once you have a plan and start doing something about the problem, you will feel a lot less anxious.

If the concern is unsolvable, accept the uncertainty. If you're a chronic, highly sensitive problem child, the vast majority of your anxious thoughts likely fall into this category. Concern is often a way of trying to predict the future - a way of avoiding unpleasant surprises and controlling the outcome. The problem is it doesn't work. Thinking about all the things that could go wrong doesn't make life more predictable. Focusing on the worst case scenario will only keep you from enjoying the good things you have in the present. To stop worrying, meet your need for certainty and immediate answers.

Do you tend to predict that bad things will happen just because they are uncertain? What is the probability that this will happen? Since the likelihood is very small, it is possible to live with the small risk that something negative can happen.

Ask your friends and family how they deal with uncertainty in certain situations. Could you do the same

Tune in to your emotions. Worrying about uncertainty is often a way to avoid uncomfortable emotions. But by adjusting to your emotions, you can begin to accept your highly sensitive feelings, even those that are uncomfortable or don't make sense.