Anxiety symptoms such as negative thoughts, fears and worries dominate many people’s lives. It often has a negative effect on both mental and physical health. It makes it harder to be successful, happy and fulfilled in life.
Anxiety often comes from worrying about uncertain situations in our lives. We fear that something bad might happen and this fuels fear and anxiety.
I believe that the opposite of anxiety is confidence. If you really believe that you can handle the situation or person to the best of your ability, then you can achieve peace and eliminate anxious thoughts and feelings.
To help you, I have researched and identified the 7 most effective ways to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Many of these have helped me personally and I believe they can help you too.
1. Change your Perception of the Future
Anxiety symptoms arise from thinking (or more likely imagining) that a future event will go badly. We imagine ourselves messing up a speech, missing a golf shot or upsetting someone we love. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “90% of what you worry about never happens”. Well this is so true!
So instead, imagine how you would like the future event to go. Make it believable. If you don’t have much experience of public speaking, imagining it going OK, rather than brilliantly. As long as your future perception is neutral, that will be enough to reduce the anxiety symptoms.
2. Reduce Anxiety Symptoms by Embracing Uncertainty
We live in an uncertain and rapidly changing world. This can be a good or bad thing. It’s all about perception.
- What would your life be like if everyday was exactly the same?
- How exciting would it be to watch a football match if you knew exactly what the result would be?
We need an element of uncertainty to make life exciting, fun, interesting, fulfilling and meaningful.
So to embrace change, you will want to become more comfortable with uncertainty. Having the faith and confidence that whatever happens will be OK really helps. Another great method is to step out of your comfort zone by trying new things.
3. Answering “What If” Questions
Anxiety symptoms arise from creating but not answering “what if” questions. For example, “What if I mess-up my words during a job interview?” Thinking about this question over and over again will fuel anxiety symptoms.
Instead, take a deep breath and then write down all the answers you can think of. These could include “The interviewer will realise that I really want this job”, “The interviewer will smile and realise that I’m human and authentic”. By answering these questions, you’re brain will be “satisfied” and will bring up the what if questions less often.
4. Have Confidence, Trust and Faith
As I mentioned earlier, I believe that confidence is the opposite of anxiety. Confidence comes from believing that you will get a positive outcome and that you have the skills and abilities to give it your best shot.
If you are religious or have spiritual beliefs, use these to help you develop the faith that the situation will turn out for the best. Make use of this higher power (whatever it is for you) to guide you. This can also help you let go of the details and focus on the outcome.
Also trust yourself. Looking at situations that have gone well in the past can help with this.
5. Chunking Down
Anxiety symptoms often arise by thinking about the negative outcome and not the steps. This is known as Globalisation or Global Thinking. Examples include “I’ll never get this report finished on time”, “I know my mother-in-law won’t like me” or “I’m never going to lose this weight”.
When you notice thoughts like these, my recommendation is to chunk then down. For example “What do I need to do exactly to complete this report on time?”, “What things can I do to increase the chances of my mother-in-law liking me?” or “what things can I do this week to start losing this weight?”.
Also notice when other people say these globalisations to you. Encourage them to focus on the steps instead.
6. Decide which Voice or Feeling to Listen To
Our internal dialogue (self-talk) and feelings can lie. We have around 60,000 thoughts per day and most of those thoughts you pay no attention too. You may even have some thoughts that would get you into trouble if you did pay attention and act on them! This is normal and part of being human.
It is extremely difficult to prevent negative thoughts from coming up. However, it is very possible to ignore any thoughts that don’t serve you. By doing this, you give less emotion to these thoughts and you will become aware of them less and less.
The same goes with feelings. You can choose which feelings to pay attention to and which to ignore. Letting go of negative feelings removes the emotional charge and this helps reduce anxiety symptoms.
7. Not Over-thinking things
When you think about something too much, this tends to fuel anxiety symptoms. These thoughts don’t necessarily need to be negative. Often neutral thoughts around strategies to fix or deal with the problem can have the same effect on anxiety symptoms.
A good solution is to set aside a specific time to think about the issue. When you do this, I suggest you work on changing your perception and answering any what if questions at the same time.
To Sum Up
I’m confident that if you apply some or all of the above strategies that you will see a big reduction in anxiety symptoms. Then you can experience real happiness, peace and joy.