Tuesday, 29 January 2013

How to deal with anxious thoughts - Part 1 - Blue sky thinking

I was walking along the beach the other day... the sky was blue and the sun was shining...as I walked passed people they were generally smiling and saying "hi".Contrast that with many of the cold windy and overcast days of late and passing dog walkers are much less likely to share a smile and say "hi" more interested in getting back home out of the cold and wind as soon as possible.
How does this relate to when you are worrying a lot and feeling anxious and panicky, not quite able to relax?
We think thousands of thoughts a day - some make us feel good, some neutral and some not so great.  How we feel depends on which of those thoughts that we are choosing to focus on and buy into.  Until we put attention on any thoughts all of them are equal.  By the way just because we think a thought does it make it true? Of course not!  But when we are feeling low already it is easy to buy into and believe all the negative thoughts we are having, discounting all the positive ones.  If we do that enough we can go from having a few anxious thoughts to taking on the identity of being an anxious person which makes it a lot more difficult to get out of the negative cycle of thinking the negative thoughts leading to feeling anxious and then behaving differently to try and either prove those thoughts wrong or to try and not think them.
So ...my first tip for you if you are having a lot of anxious thoughts is to do some mindfulness and some blue sky thinking.  What I mean by that is imagine that your mind is the blue sky...and your thoughts are the clouds in the sky...some positive and some negative but like the clouds in the sky our thoughts always pass.  The aim of doing this is to start observing your thoughts positive and negative without buying into them and believing them.  Realise that no matter how many anxious thoughts you are having, they do pass.  By doing this you can begin to break the chain of one anxious thought leading to another and another and another....they just become thoughts that don't mean anything apart from the fact that you are thinking!
Try that out and let me know how you get on!
Part 2 coming soon!

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