When anxiety strikes, it can be all too easy to imagine it will never go away. The physical symptoms - a beating or palpitating heart along with a constant sick feeling in your stomach - plus a mind working in overdrive become so consuming that you can't remember a time when you just felt normal.
The problem is, that fear of anxiety never leaving you - of never being able to feel like you again - can ultimately cause your bout of anxiety to be prolonged.
If you've found yourself in a thinking pattern like that, one way to help yourself out of the cycle is to logically and rationally remind yourself that this intense feeling of anxiety won't last forever. It physically can't.
Here are four other things the experts at mental health self-help app My Possible Self suggest remembering when you feel like this phase will never end:
1. Anxiety can be managed
"Cheer up", "calm down", "stop overthinking"… if you suffer from anxiety, you may be tired of being told to essentially 'wish away' your fears. If only it were that simple. Although it takes more than willpower to banish anxiety, there are things we can do to manage it. This means finding the right techniques or treatment for you. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another, so it may mean doing a little research, speaking to your doctor and getting support from your friends and family. And if results aren’t immediate, don’t lose heart – it can take time.
2. Knowledge is power
Discovering patterns in your anxiety might give you vital clues as to what triggers it and keeps it going. Think about specific times you felt anxious, then look for any patterns. Note down when you felt most anxious, along with where you were, who you were with, what was happening, whether you slept well the night before, and what you ate and drank in the hours before. You’ll start to see trends emerging, which will help you predict – and ultimately better control – your symptoms.
3. ‘Never’ is a common thinking trap
It’s natural to catch yourself thinking "I’m never going to get better", or "I’ll always feel this way". But if you find yourself making assertions that include the words "always" and "never", you may have fallen into what we call a ‘thinking trap’. Other things to look out for include assuming the worst ("this headache is probably a brain tumour"), or mind-reading ("they all think I'm incompetent"). Noticing yourself having these thoughts is the first step to controlling them. Then you can start challenging yourself on these assertions. Are you making assumptions based on little evidence?
4. It’s OK to say
You may be keeping your worries bottled up to avoid 'being a burden' or showing vulnerability to friends, family or colleagues. But talking about how you’re feeling is the first step to taking control. Talking about your mental health isn’t weak, it’s vital. And it may help the person you confide in to open up to you too, so you can support each other through life’s challenges.
My Possible Self was borne out of a personal passion for mental health, after its directors, Hana and Fleur, both struggled with anxiety. It’s designed to help people take control of stress anxiety and mild-to-moderate depression. Its learning modules use clinically-proven content to teach users simple techniques for improving their mental wellbeing. It also has a tracking feature to help users identify patterns in their feelings, behaviours and symptoms, allowing them to take control.
H/T Cosmo UK