Tools for Anxiety: Mindful Thinking

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Orlando Counselor Providing Tools for Anxiety Relief

It’s Sunday evening and you’re preparing for the week and you notice an undercurrent of dread, doubt, and anxiety. “After I get all my stuff done, I will feel better,” you think to yourself. The next day rolls around and it hasn’t gone away. You’re still feeling anxious and unsettled.

Anxiety stinks! It pulls us out of the moment, whether we are with our kids, at work, or even at the gym, into a feeling of dread and darkness. One of the most baffling parts is that there doesn’t even have to be a trigger or explicit cause, it can just be a feeling that drags you down and revs you up (not in the fun way either).

As an anxiety and trauma counselor in Orlando, I help my clients develop tools for coping with these anxious feelings. In the first post of this series, Tools for Anxiety: Know Your Body, Emotions, and Thoughts, I discuss how anxiety impacts your entire system. In the last blog post in this series, Tools for Anxiety: Somatic Resources, I offer readers body-oriented tools for settling anxiety. In this post, I will introduce ways to use mindfulness of thought to interrupt anxiety ripping through your body, mind, and emotions.

There are certain styles of thinking that contribute to anxiety that run in the background of our minds. Often times, when we are plagued with anxiety that isn’t triggered by a specific event, it is likely that the way we think, in general, is contributing to our high levels of anxiety.

When you feel your thoughts are gravitating into a negative thinking pattern again, use these tools to interrupt your sticky thinking and lead you towards a more positive thought cycle.

Take A Pause

First of all, let’s just pause, take a breath, and focus on the exhale. Give your thinking mind a break. If left unattended, the thinking mind will go and go and go. It really never stops. Our bodies and emotions are in a constant state of flux as they respond to the approximately 60,000 thoughts we have per day.

When you notice you’re all jazzed up, allow that to be a reminder to step out of the virtual reality of thinking and step into the present moment. First breathe, then bring your awareness to the present moment by noticing something in your environment. Even if you just give the thinking mind a five second break, those five seconds of quiet are a heck of a lot more peaceful than five seconds of mind-babble.

Check Out the Quality of Your Thoughts

If you’re going to spend a ton of time in your head, at least check out the environment. Is it a pleasant place to hang out or is it toxic? Is it positive or negative? Some research shows that 80% of our thinking is negative. I am not suggesting it is as simple as just thinking positive thoughts. If it were that easy, the positive affirmations movement that occurred 10 years ago would have cured our planet. What I am advocating for here is to orient your mind toward things that are neutral, pleasant, or positive.

When you notice you’re in a sh** storm of negative thinking, direct your attention to something pleasant in your environment or something positive in your life. The mind has a lot of momentum, so it’s going to think thoughts. That is what it does and that is what it is good at. But, don’t let your mind be a runaway train of negativity. Give it something positive to chew on. Intentionally, spend a few minutes each day giving your mind healthy material to grind. Your body and your emotions will thank you by replacing that feeling of dread, we talked about earlier, with a feeling of neutrality, peace, or joy.

Notice Your Thinking Style

Sometimes, it’s not as simple as boiling your anxiety down to positive or negative thinking. Another mindful thinking tool is to notice the style of thinking that contributes to your anxiety. I discovered this jewel when I was in graduate school and have used it as a mindfulness tool for myself and my clients for the past 10 years.

Review these Unhelpful Thinking Styles and identify the styles you gravitate toward to loosen the grip of categorical thinking that contributes to anxiety. By simply becoming aware of and noticing when you use these thinking styles reduces their stronghold over you and sets you on a path of mindful thinking.

Anxious feelings and the negative thoughts that surround these feelings are inevitable when we have up to 80,000 thoughts per day and no control over these thoughts. However, when equipped with the tools to stop or change these thoughts anxiety relief is possible.

More Tools for Anxiety:

Tools for Anxiety: Know Your Body, Emotions, and Thoughts

Tools for Anxiety: Somatic Resources

For More on Anxiety, Check These Out:

Anxiety Much? Mindfulness to the Rescue

Discerning the Difference between Danger and Discomfort [a tool to calm anxiety]

Anxiety? Use this Quick Tool to Tame the Runaway Train

Lauran is an anxiety and trauma therapist providing counseling in Orlando, FL. She also specializes in helping people heal old broken relationship patterns that keep them from finding, creating, and keeping healthy relationships with partners, friends, and family. Lauran uses a down to earth approach infused with cutting-edge therapies that go beyond traditional talking to help clients feel calm in their body and mind and find peace within themselves.