Anxiety & Mood | Feelings | Healthy Routines | Mindfulness | Mood | Stress

Anxiety – What to do with Unproductive Thoughts Part 2

This post continues on what to do during the worry hour, more specifically what to do with unproductive themes/topics, see earlier posts. You can choose among several strategies:

1. If stressed, calm yourself by pointing out that the thoughts are likely consequences of stress and hence see the worry-theme as a mainly stress symptoms and not as real concerns. Instead of entering into the thoughts, try to revert to for example mindfulness techniques, see separate posts, while focusing on your breathing, take a walk or distract yourself with an activity that demands your full attention. Also, see stress management techniques posted earlier.

2. List the likelihood and evidence that supports that your worry/fear theme is true and/or will likely happen. Then also list statistics and proof that do not support your worst fear with this. thought. Then develop a nuanced mantra, an alternative thought, covering both sides, such as: Even if it is scary to fly since I have no control over what will happen, I still will do it because it is unlikely something will happen and regardless, I will not let my fears make me avoid doing things I want to in life.

3. After deciding to do or not to do an exposure, see post last week, or when the worry hour is over: try not to enter into the unproductive worry themes but instead talk to yourself in a comforting and self-supportive way about how unhelpful it is to use more time on thoughts/things that are unlikely or where you have no/minimal impact or control. Do this in a considerate and self-compassionate way and kindly distract yourself without going further into the thoughts.

An important reason for the worry hour is that you learn that thoughts can be postponed – and if they can be postponed, they can also be altered and replaced. Remember, you do not control the first thought that enters your mind, but you can learn to control the second one.

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