Do you know that feeling? When anxiety keeps you up into the wee hours of the morning, fretting and ruminating on every potential worst-case scenario?
You imagine your reactions, subsequent events, and the thoughts go on and on. Are you dragged further and further into a nightmare of your own making?
Some people are able to manage anxiety with yoga or mindfulness meditation. But mindfulness sometimes fails them.
It’s easy in those situations to want to fight against anxiety. You want to give yourself a stern talking to, but fighting it can make the situation worse.
Do people you know try to tell you to “just stop worrying?”
Doesn’t yoga purport the message that “all we need to do for a happier life is to think positively?”
Perspective in all experiences, including uncomfortable ones, is valuable. Actually, only focusing on what’s nice and comfortable can be dangerous. Trying to convince yourself that everything is fine when it isn’t, essentially lying to yourself, only serves to amplify anxiety.
So, if you’re being honest, you can’t “just stop worrying.”
Stress reactions originate in your amygdala, the primal part of your brain that oversees your nervous system. The prefrontal cortex is the rational, conscious part of your brain. Attempting to force calm is basically your prefrontal cortex trying to override your amygdala. This only serves to further rile up the primal fear response.
You can’t boss your amygdala around, but you can demonstrate awareness of the problem.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may be a helpful course. The technique is derived from the idea that thoughts affect feelings, which lead to behaviors, which impact thoughts.
Though it’s difficult, working with your thoughts and behaviors can interrupt the downward anxiety spiral.
- What thought is contributing to this feeling
- What evidence do I have that this thought is true?
- What else could be going on?
- What evidence do I have for those alternatives?
These questions can help press the pause button on internal nightmares. Other interpretations can be considered, and reactions held back, until you have more information. It’s okay to not know the answers.
Read the entire article here: How to Manage Anxiety When Mindfulness Fails You
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