How to Calm Your Anxious and catastrophizing Thoughts

If you suffer from anxiety, you know how overwhelming it can be to try to manage your thoughts and emotions.

Fortunately, there are techniques you can use to prevent catastrophizing your anxious thoughts and find some relief. Here are three tips from an STG counsellor that can help you calm your anxious mind.

Recognize Catastrophizing

The first step in de-catastrophizing your anxious thoughts is to recognize when you’re catastrophizing. Catastrophizing is when you imagine the worst-case scenario and believe that it’s inevitable. For example, if you’re anxious about a job interview, you might catastrophize by imagining that you’ll completely bomb the interview and never get hired.

To combat catastrophizing, start by identifying when you’re doing it. Pay attention to your thoughts and notice when you start imagining the worst-case scenario. Once you’ve recognized that you’re catastrophizing, try to challenge your thoughts by asking yourself questions like:

  • Is this really the worst thing that could happen?
  • What evidence do I have to support this catastrophic thought?
  • Are there any other possible outcomes that are more likely?

By challenging your catastrophic thoughts, you can start to reframe them in a more realistic and less anxiety-provoking way.

Anxious woman looking to window

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a technique that involves focusing your attention on the present moment and observing your thoughts and emotions without judgment. By practicing mindfulness regularly, you can train your brain to be more aware of your thoughts and less reactive to them.

To practice mindfulness, try setting aside a few minutes each day to sit quietly and focus on your breath. When your mind starts to wander, gently bring your attention back to your breath. You can also try incorporating mindfulness into everyday activities, like washing dishes or taking a walk. Focus on the sensations and experiences of the present moment, and try not to let your thoughts spiral into anxiety.

Challenge Your Anxious Thoughts

Another way to decatastrophize your anxious thoughts is to challenge them directly. When you’re feeling anxious, it’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of negative thinking that reinforces your anxiety. By challenging your thoughts and looking for evidence to support them, you can start to break that cycle.

For example, if you’re anxious about a social event, you might have thoughts like:

  • “Everyone is going to think I’m awkward and boring.”
  • “I’m going to embarrass myself in front of everyone.”

To challenge these thoughts, ask yourself questions like:

  • Is it really true that everyone will think I’m awkward and boring?
  • What evidence do I have to support that thought?
  • Have I ever been to a social event where I didn’t embarrass myself?

By challenging your anxious thoughts, you can start to see them in a more objective and realistic light.

If you struggle with anxiety, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. By practicing these techniques regularly, you can start to decatastrophize your anxious thoughts and find some relief. Remember to be patient and kind to yourself as you work through this process. With time and practice, you can learn to manage your anxiety and live a more peaceful life.

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