If you are prone to anxiety, we have good news for you: it is possible to rewire your anxious brain.
Having some anxiety is useful if it pushes you to overcome challenges. However, you can have too much of a good thing. The good news is that you can control your anxious thought patterns. The simple nature of these strategies will surprise you.
The Amygdala and Its Functions
You’ll know that your brain processes information, but you may not realize how it warns you of danger. The amygdala is the part of your brain that does this. When you discover something that’s potentially dangerous, the amygdala begins to process information. It then sends signals to the body to avoid the danger. The amygdala starts an adrenaline rush, which awakens your mind and muscles.
If you’re over-anxious, it means that your brain is always sending you danger signals. Staying calm and rational isn’t possible, so it’s a task to turn off your amygdala.
It’s possible to turn your amygdala off, but you’ll need to shift your mindset. It’s up to you to trick your brain into thinking that what you face isn’t dangerous. In other words, you’ll need different words to describe your situation.
Why you might be struggling to calm down your anxious brain
No one likes feeling as though the world about to come apart. However, it’s difficult to rewire your anxious turbulent brain with just a snap. If you want to stop worrying, knowing about your negative and positive thoughts is the key.
It’s natural for you to weigh the pros and cons of worrying. The negatives are that it may become uncontrollable, drive you into a state of psychosis or destroy your health. A plus about worrying is that it prompts you to prepare for worst-case scenarios. Also, being anxious may show how caring and considerate you are.
Furthermore, your anxiety about worrying, ironically, is what adds to your stress. For example, worrying about insomnia is what makes you unable to do so in the first place.
Having positive beliefs about it, however, is even more destructive. If you want to stop worrying, you’ll have to forego the idea that it’s good for you. Once you acknowledge how damaging it is, you can start to rewire your brain to stop those anxious thoughts.
6 ways to rewire your anxious brain
You can’t live without an anxious brain, but you can learn how to cope with it. Rewire it to make dealing with stress easier.
1. Fix a worry-free time
First of all, it’s impossible to completely stop worrying. However, you can pick a time and place for it, according to The Anxiety Disorders Treatment Center in Durham and Chapel Hill in North Carolina. For example, you can choose to mull over your concerns from 2 to 2:30 p.m. in your balcony. You can think about whatever bothers you during this time, but keep the rest of the day worry free.
2. Ask if you can solve the problem
Of course, anxieties pop up throughout the day. Note them and go about your routine. The Anxiety Disorders Treatment Center further advises that you’ll think about them during your worry-free period.
3. Gove anxiety a challenge
Another trick that the center suggests for calming your troubled mind is to challenge anxious thoughts.
First of all, ask yourself if the ideas are valid. Then, find out if there are positive perspectives. Ask if what you’re scared of will happen. Then find out about the likely outcomes. Most importantly, question if the thoughts are helpful.
4. Focus on the moment
Also, sitting still is impossible for most people. According to Rick Hanson, Ph.D., author of Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice At A Time, a small worry will keep you looking out for others.
Being on high alert protects you, but it isn’t helpful when you’re trying to ease your stress. Some people worry over the slightest things.
Hanson advises that you should realize that you’re alright, now. Thinking about the future all the time causes you to fret. Likewise, dwelling on the past triggers feelings of regret. Whatever you’re doing, remember that you’re all right now.
You will experience negative moments, but remember that the core of your being is still doing well.
5. Think about things that make you feel safe
According to Hanson, nature designed our brains to worry. That’s why we’re obsessed with avoiding danger. Anxiety levels vary, depending on temperament.
Therefore, people overrate threats. Overestimating them causes anxiety, stress, and intolerance. In a nutshell, you will develop a short fuse. If you are excessively worried, Hanson suggests thinking about a loved one. Dwell on those feelings.
Alternatively, think about a time you felt resilient. That may help you to recall the resources you used to cope with tight spots.
6. Let it go
Hanging on to negative events hurts, but you may not want to let go because you feel that it weakens you. You may also fear the consequences. However, it liberates you. Richard Hanson suggests that it means releasing destructive thoughts.
In all, it’s possible to rewire your anxious brain if you use a little savvy.
Copyright © 2012-2020 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.