We all experience distressing thoughts in our lives in different stages. That creeping sense of fear about something bad about to happen seems to consume us overwhelmingly at times. There used to be a time when anxiety had a role to play during the hunter-gatherer era, as the anxiety alerted us to danger and helped us save from predators.
But coming to the 21st century, there’s no risk of natural predators for people living in the urban locales. However, the anxiety levels of people have shot up off the roofs and are having a debilitating effect on our lives. Anxiety stems from a lot of factors; it could be a genetic predisposition, a traumatic event in your life or a chronic illness. Anxiety or distressing thoughts don’t discriminate between races, nationality, ethnicity, age, gender or even your socio-economic background. It adversely affects your personal and professional life.
Though Medication and therapy can help you relieve your distressing thoughts, think of it in more practical terms. You cannot pop a pill whenever you feel anxious as SSRIs are habit-forming. To shift the focus of your mind away from distressing thoughts, we’ve put together seven ways that will ensure that anxiety does not get the better of you.
Tips to get relieved from your distressing thoughts
1. Mindfulness – The Five senses
Also called the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise, it is advised by many certified counsellors and psychologists to this day to calm their patients’ suffering from anxiety.
The aim of the exercise is to engage all the senses and be mindful
Just look around the room for once and name five things you can see, 4 things you can touch; 3 things you can hear; 2 things that you can smell; and finally a thing you can taste. Doing this exercise brings all the senses into motion and also shifts your attention away from anxiety
2. Counting Games
It’s another dated practice from the past that is proven to reduce anxiety
When it comes to counting, don’t get bewildered that you need to be a wizard in math or something. It’s something every average Joe can practice right from the place they are put up. When used effectively, math can be highly useful in developing concentration and eliminating negative feelings.
Count backwards from 100 or 1000s in eights ( or any number of your choice)
Think of a number and keep adding 7 (or any number of your choice) and go on
3. Visual Imagery
Using visualization is one of the well-known coping-up mechanisms while dealing with anxiety. Though it’s not intellectually challenging like counting or mindfulness, for ages, it is proven to engage your brain and increase your focus
The purpose behind visualization is to create a perfect world at times of distress where you feel safe and secure. Imagine yourself taking a mental stroll through your neighbourhood and remember all the buildings, structures, houses, shops, and trees that lie nearby. If you want to be more specific, imagine a bookshelf with all your favourite books on it
4. Memorize a passage
Memorizing poetry or a passage from literature used to be our least favourite activity. However, memorizing is an excellent distraction when your mind is losing its focus due to a distress
For example, you can memorize a paragraph or a passage from the book you have. If you are musically inclined, you might as well memorize the lyrics of the song and recite it
On the other hand, if you are visually inclined, you might recall the collection of things that lays on your desk. If you have the habit of playing card games like 13 card rummy online, you can try to recollect your last discards and melds in your hand. The more you give your brain a workout, the more it will compress the depressive thoughts
5. Words & Names
Just like visual imagery, games using words demand your attention and divert it away from your worries. If you have a good vocabulary, shortlist a category, and begin listing out things either in an alphabetical way or an in a way you’re comfortable with
For example, you can choose a category of animals, and further narrow it down to mammals and reptiles and then you can list out the respective beings in their particular categories
Whatever exercise you pick up, the main idea is to free yourself from the clutches of depressive thoughts and feel grounded.