I’m writing about anxiety again, because the worrying times are far from over.
Worrying prompts us to take actions to prevent bad things happening. This is fine when there is clearly something we can do.
But when much of what we are facing is beyond our control, how can we manage anxiety that isn’t helping us cope?
People who deal well with worrying events have an underlying sense of trust. They believe that they can cope with whatever life throws at them, and that things tend to work out. They dwell on what’s good about life, rather than on difficulties.
If it’s not natural to you to see things that way – or you’ve had the stuffing knocked out of you in recent months – here are three little exercises which can help restore faith in your ability to cope, in a few minutes quiet time. There’s a more detailed version on my website at https://www.karenbray.co.uk/reduce-worry/.
1. Gratitude: spend about five minutes listing things you are grateful for. You will have to go into some detail: not just “my partner”or “my kids” but the qualities you like in them; not just the present, but past blessings that still influence you now.
2. Strengths: now list all your own strengths, past and present. Think about things you’ve achieved and challenges you’ve overcome – what were the qualities that enabled you to do that? What do your friends and colleagues like and admire about you?
3. Planning: this one comes last because it’s a bit scary – don’t do it if it makes you feel panicky or over-anxious. First, list the things you are worried about. Second, write down the worst possible outcome you can imagine. Third, write down everything you could do to cope if that happened.
And please – if anxiety is spoiling your quality of life or stopping you from functioning, make sure your GP knows about it.
You can also get help from the NHS and wellbeing charities – start here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/
Karen Bray (MBACP) is a counsellor with a private practice in Bath. Her website is at www.karenbray.co.uk.