“I should exercise more.”
“I didn’t make it to Bible study last night and now they probably think I’m a horrible person.”
“I said something embarrassing and I’m afraid my friends won’t like me anymore.”
“That was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done! I’m so stupid!”
“I never get anything right.”
At some point in our lives, we have said one or more of these things to ourselves, or something like it. On the surface, these sentences sound innocuous, right? I mean, they don’t really mean anything, do they? The above statements are examples of negative self-talk, which can fuel negative feelings like anxiety.
Anxiety indicates a level of fear in our lives, or feeling afraid or scared. Other words that we use to describe anxiety include worry, nervousness, and stress. Sometimes this feels like butterflies in our stomach, tense shoulders and neck, headaches, tightness in the chest, a racing heartbeat, racing thoughts, dizziness, nausea, and sweaty hands – the list of symptoms of anxiety can go on and on.
Negative thoughts that lead to unhealthy emotions such as depression, anxiety, and anger are nearly always illogical and distorted even though they seem realistic – often times the lies sound very true. Reality does not produce clinical depression or anxiety, but wrong thoughts about reality does. Therefore, if you can replace distorted negative thoughts with thoughts that are positive and realistic, you can change the way you feel.
You can decrease the anxiety, or better yet, make it go away. How can I do this, you might ask? Some will experience a decrease in symptoms by making lifestyle changes, such as:
* Getting sufficient rest and sleep.
* If you smoke, quit
* Reducing or eliminating caffeinated beverages
* Reducing exposure to stressful environments
* Exercising regularly
Some people report that relaxation techniques help reduce their anxiety significantly, when used regularly as part of a daily selfcare routine. Relaxation can include, but is not limited to:
* Practicing deep breathing and meditation.
* Choosing a positive mantra (“I can overcome!” or meditate on your favorite Bible verse.)
* Learning how to do progressive muscle relaxation.
* Engaging in pleasurable activities. This is could absolutely anything you enjoy doing – take an art class, play with your cat, drink a cup of hot tea.
Having a strong support system of family and friends is key to coping with any mental health issue. Also consider seeking therapy to improve your coping skills, and/or join a support group. You might find that talking to a counselor can help you to address thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that play a role in anxiety.