Does your brain sometimes run a mile a minute, jumping from thought to thought? Do you wish your mind would just slow down, and your worries, fears and memories disappear? Yep, us too.
So why is it so hard to stop a racing mind? And how do we beat this anxiety?
Researcher Matthew D. Della Porta says it’s important to take anxious feelings seriously, explaining that intrusive and distressing thoughts can have a seriously negative impact on your life. They can cause you to feel exhausted, overwhelmed and hopeless. Moreover, a running mind can affect your sleep and concentration levels, as well as lead to more serious mental disorders such as depression.
Della Porta says that observing your thought patterns will enable you to more effectively cope with them. He recommends methods such as the “Focus and Flow”, in which you breathe in and address whatever thoughts are in your head. Take ownership of them, round them up and face them.
Dr Michele Murphy, an Adelaide psychologist who co-authored Release Your Worries
, believes to help reduce your negative thoughts, one must look at where all this worry and anxious behaviour is coming from. Dr Murphy says part of the problem is that we live in a culture that propagates the idea that happiness should be a constant state of mind.
“Perhaps young women are more vulnerable to believing that this idea is the truth and if they are not constantly happy then something is wrong with them,” says Dr Murphy.
“The belief that something is wrong may make them strive to be ‘perfect’ as a way of attaining happiness. Of course perfection is impossible, so anxiety may result from a sense of failure and the exhaustion of attempting to attain unrealistic standards.”
So if you're suffering from high levels of stress and anxiety then try these 10 tips: Relaxation:
This can include simple slow breathing techniques, meditation, reading, a massage, having a bath or sport (playing) and other hobbies. Do things you value:
Prioritise the most rewarding and meaningful areas of your life for your time and energy to avoid spreading yourself too thin. Connect with family and friends:
Good social support can act as a buffer against stress, so surround yourself with people who know how to relax and have fun. Be in the moment:
Practice mindfulness: engaging in the present moment reduces stress and makes you less likely to worry about the past or future. Use humour:
Simple ways to de-stress using humour include: watching your favourite comedy show, listening to what little kids say and trying to see the funny side of a situation. Aim for a healthy lifestyle:
Eating healthy foods, getting adequate sleep and regular exercise all assist in helping people cope with daily stressors (what are stressors?). Challenge your negative thoughts:
Substitute all-or-nothing thinking like “If I don’t get full marks, I am a failure” (maybe do this job rather than grades) with realistic thoughts such as “I am an intelligent and valuable person regardless of my mark.” Learn to say no
: Don’t say yes to win approval at expense of yourself: it is okay to say no and most people will appreciate clear boundaries and honesty. Prioritise yourself:
It is important to remember that you will have trouble being of any use to anyone if you are stressed to the point that you burn out. Self Compassion:
Take comfort in the knowledge that everyone feels stressed at some time and we are all in this together. Related content:
The stress effect
How to de-stress in under a minute
The new health rules