Why Shifting Your Mindset Is Key for Managing Anxious Thoughts

Stop Wearing Deodorant - Healthy womanPat Benatar once sang that love is a battlefield.

Life in general can feel that way if you have anxiety. You are constantly on guard against the next onslaught of misery. 

The way you choose to look at the world — and the actions you decide to take — can ease your symptoms. Here’s why shifting your mindset is key for managing anxious thoughts and tips for changes you should make. 

1. Do It Now 

Do you, like many, have a “to-do” bucket list?” You know, those nagging items you know that you should take care of but never seem to accomplish? There’s one simple way to eliminate those obligations that remind you of their presence at 3 a.m — finish them. 

If you toss and turn wondering what your family would do if you were gone, contact a life insurance agent — even if you think you can’t get approved due to your medical history.

Disorders like mild anxiety and depression won’t make your rates skyrocket, and those with more serious illnesses can nevertheless find final expense coverage that eases the financial burden on their loved ones. 

Do you panic over the thought of what your family would do in an emergency every wildfire or flood season?

Make an evacuation plan and prepare a go-bag for each member so that you have a procedure to follow and necessary supplies should the worst occur. 

2. Take One Proactive Step

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Other times, anxiety stems not from those things you should do but those you would like to — yet seem overwhelming. Do you know how Stephen King finishes novels? One page at a time. 

When going over your weekly plan, pencil in 15 minutes each day to take one proactive step toward your goals.

Do you want to learn Spanish or get in better shape? Download a language-learning or fitness app and put it on your schedule first thing in the morning before other obligations get in the way. 

3. Get Organized 

According to management consultant and speaker Dr. Karl Albrecht, stress comes from four primary sources: time, anticipatory, situational and encounter. You can reduce or eliminate much of the first two by wisely organizing your time. 

Old-fashioned paper planners offer the benefit of giving you more room to write details. If you prefer modern technology, you’ll find no shortage of apps.

Some of them let you coordinate details between family members — play around until you find the best one that works for your needs. 

4. Schedule Downtime 

Do you sometimes feel like you never have time for yourself? The human body and brain need downtime to process information and recover from the stresses of daily life. 

Please schedule time each day — 30 minutes is ideal — to unwind and do something you love for self-care. Sometimes, it might take the form of a yoga class and a brief meditation session. Others, you might curl up with a cup of cozy chamomile and a juicy novel.

Whatever you do, taking this time reminds you that you are important. Treat yourself like a prized Tesla — you wouldn’t go very far on an empty battery. 

5. Capture the Last Five Minutes 

What do you do with the last five minutes of every workday? If you spend it chatting around the water cooler, don’t be surprised if you feel overwhelmed when you sit down the next morning. 

Instead, take this time to review your to-do list for the following day. Prioritize your toughest tasks first, as tackling them will make the rest of your assignments a breeze. 

Include personal items — forgetting you have to pick up a prescription can cause you 10 p.m. anxiety if your pharmacy closes at 8:00.

When you get down to business the following day, you’ll know precisely what you must do and when. 

6. Get Mindful 

Mindfulness is one of the best ways to counteract anxiety attacks. Whatever it is you fear most probably isn’t happening in the present moment — if it were, you wouldn’t be worrying about it. You’d be taking steps to address the situation. 

Use the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique to cope with sudden panic. Stop, look around you and identify five things you can see and four that you can touch.

Follow this with three you can hear, two you can smell and one you can taste. This exercise grounds you in the present moment, helping to quell your unease.

7. Tune Into Your Body

The body keeps the score — if you don’t find ways to manage your anxiety, your physical self will begin showing signs.

Some people develop bruxism or teeth-grinding, leading to even more stress given the high price of dental care when a molar cracks under pressure. Others suffer unnecessary and ongoing aches and pains in their shoulders, back or hips. 

Instead of treating your body like the enemy, consider it a barometer. When you notice symptoms that could stem from anxiety, double down on holistic remedies like mindful exercise, deep breathing and relaxing herbal teas.

If these measures prove ineffective, talk with your doctor to rule out underlying conditions and perhaps obtain prescriptions that may help. 

8. Learn When to Let Go 

Sometimes, anxiety stems from wanting to control everything. Accepting that you can’t run the world is one of the best mindset shifts for managing active thoughts. 

Practice radical acceptance with those things you cannot change. Instead of cursing at traffic, tune into an audiobook you’ve meant to read.

Can’t afford fresh produce on your meager salary? Investigate gardening or even learn some urban foraging techniques to round out your diet. Doing so takes your mind off your poverty and makes you feel powerful, able to provide for your needs. 

Shift Your Mindset to Better Manage Anxious Thoughts 

Anxiety stems from many factors, some of which you can’t control.

However, you can counteract negative thoughts — shift your mindset for a happier, healthier life.

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Ava Moore
BA, MA Psychology (and Conflict Resolution), University of Cambridge (2007). With a decade of trial and error in psychology and 33 years of navigating my own complex (that's one word for it!) relationships with family, friends, co-workers and men, I hope I have some useful knowledge and skills to share with my readers about making sense of relationships and trying to become a better person every day.

I'm the Chief Editor here at Independent Femme and would love to hear from you.

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