This blog post was written by Marilyn Harris, MSE, LPC, a Licensed Professional Counselor at the Beloit Area Community Health Center.
You can’t change the past, but you control your future
2020 was a year unlike any other in most of our recent memories. It certainly changed our thoughts on health and wellness, safety and security, individual/family economics, political systems, educational programming, entertainment, travel/vacations, and our Holiday celebrations. Every event listed comes with its own set of old and new worries and anxieties.
The goal here isn’t to rehash what has happened because we can’t change the past. No one can go back and correct or change the past. To date, the only time travel available is fictional. What you can control is your future.
Calm your anxious mind
Your future starts with learning skills to calm your worry and anxiety. If you experience anxiety you tend to avoid anything and everything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Your justification is the situation/task is “… unpleasant, confusing, awkward, boring, time consuming and/or stressful (Wilson, 2016).”
It certainly is easier and feels safer to do or think about something more pleasant that you enjoy. Avoidance and safety behaviors (behaviors that you do to reduce your sense of risk and keep from being hurt), after all, are deceitful gifts you give yourself. They keep you stuck in in your anxiety and worry. They stifle your ability to move forward and enjoy new challenges and life moments.
Retrain your brain
Believe it or not your brain can be retrained and re-route the triggers that create your anxious moments. This takes time and practice.
The best way to do this retraining is to stay with your discomfort. This doesn’t mean the discomfort will go away, but you will learn to lower your anxiety from a very high numerical score (example is 10 is extremely high anxiety) to a score one or two numbers lower.
Each time you practice this technique you are training your brain to understand you are not in danger. A therapist can work with you on this exposure therapy.
Other skills that may help work through anxiety and worry are learning deep breathing techniques, mindfulness and meditation, and practicing gratitude. Journaling helps you recognize triggers that activate your worry and anxiety. Recognizing your triggers goes a long way to managing your anxiety and worry.
Making the decision to start to change your anxiety is within your power. You have the answers within you so trust yourself to try and achieve less anxiety and worry.
Re-train Your Brain With Self-Care — Dima Abou Chaaban
How to Replace Anxiety with Purpose — Jake Heilbrunn
How to Stop Feeling Anxious about Anxiety — Tim Box
- Greenberger, D., & Padesky, C. A. (2016). Mind over mood: Change how you feel by changing the way you think. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
- Pittman, C. M., & Karle, E. M. (2015). Rewire your anxious brain: How to use the neuroscience of fear to end anxiety, panic, & worry. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
- Wilson, R. R. (2016). Stopping the noise in your head: The new way to overcome aniexty and worry. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications.