Like salt, a small amount of anxiety is a good thing. It stimulates us to accomplish what needs to be done and it’s more than a good thing when it warns us of danger and motivates us to protect ourselves. However, like salt, an excessive amount is ruinous.
It is a great deal easier to manage anxiety effectively when you understand the process that brings it about.* In the next post, I will review how to prevent anxiety, but let’s consider here how to reduce anxiety when it serves no useful purpose.
Anxiety is basically very simple. It only comes about when a subconscious basic belief is triggered by a threatening sight, sound, touch, smell or thought, releasing adrenaline into the bloodstream. Therefore, consciously choosing thoughts that are nonthreatening will replace these subconscious triggers. Then, as long as your conscious thoughts remain focused on something nonthreatening, the feelings of anxiety will continue to diminish over the next few minutes. This improvement takes place as the adrenaline already in the bloodstream is automatically removed.
This is only a temporary fix since anxiety will return the instant another basic belief is triggered. Nevertheless, there are many instances when even temporary relief from anxiety is beneficial. For instance, your ability to use reason and logic is far greater when you are free of anxiety, skills crucial to making wise decisions. Also, you can drift off to sleep more easily when your thoughts are nonthreatening rather than when you are worrying about any number of issues.
Practice reducing mild occasions of anxiety to develop your skill in this area. If you do this frequently, you will be better equipped to reduce more intense bouts of anxiety when it becomes important to do so.
Finally, remember that good anxiety management contributes to your overall mental health.
*For a full explanation of the process of anxiety, please see Part III of “Pathways to Mental Health and Anxiety Management” or see the “How to Prevent Unnecessary Anxiety” post.
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