Five Ways to Reduce Anxiety and Guilt Now
It's possible to reduce anxiety and guilt starting immediately. Last week's post, Guilt: A Distressing Effect of Anxiety, explored guilt as an effect of anxiety and the vicious cycle created when anxiety increases guilt which, in turn, causes greater anxiety and then more guilt. Just because we feel guilty, however, doesn't mean we have to accept it. The following suggestions can help you reduce anxiety and guilt now.
Five Ways to Reduce Guilt and Anxiety Now
- Acknowledge your guilt then let it go. Instead of ruminating over your thoughts or trying to push them away, notice them and acknowledge them. When you face them and see that anxiety and guilt aren't doing anything positive, but are negatively affecting your mental health, let them go by turning your attention to the here-and-now. Practice mindfulness to calm anxiety and ground yourself in the moment.
- Check in with the other person. If your anxiety and guilt about a situation with another person are really bothering you, talking to him or her could be very helpful. The idea alone might be incredibly anxiety-provoking, but checking in despite anxiety could be well worth it. You might discover that there's no reason to feel guilty, or you could learn that you need to apologize. Either way, deal with it and move on. Checking in allows you to reduce guilt and anxiety.
- Forgive yourself. We're all human, and as such we mess up. Forgiveness is essential to our mental health. When we can't forgive ourselves, we remain stuck in a cycle of self-blame, guilt, and increased anxiety. (How to Forgive for Your Mental Health.)
- Change how you talk to yourself. Belittling yourself with harsh labels and negative judgments doesn't change what you think happened or might happen. Telling yourself that you should be different increases anxiety and guilt when you can't follow your own demands. Stopping negative self-talk and silencing your inner critic helps reduce guilt and anxiety right away.
- Stop apologizing for everything. Excessive apologizing is unnecessary. It's also damaging. It keeps you rooted in the belief that you constantly do things wrong, have a lot to worry about, and owe the world apology after apology. Over-apologizing with anxiety and guilt keeps you stuck. When you find yourself tempted to apologize, pause before speaking. Is it really something you need to apologize for? Or are you acting on worry and guilt? If you need to apologize, definitely do (and then move on). If you're just compelled to apologize because of anxiety and/or guilt, bite your tongue (and then move on).
These five techniques will help you reduce anxiety and guilt. Because they are both normal human experiences, guilt and anxiety won't completely disappear. That's okay. The goal is to distance yourself from them enough to reduce the power they have over you. Start reducing anxiety and guilt now with the above techniques.
Peterson, T. (2016, July 14). Five Ways to Reduce Anxiety and Guilt Now, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, April 9 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2016/07/five-ways-to-reduce-anxiety-and-guilt-now
Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
This is a really good list but unfortunately I am stuck in the cycle of guilt because I met with the person and they told me that I had done something much worse than I had originally perceived and that they don't forgive me.
That is unfortunate, and I'm sorry to hear that this happened. Often, when someone reacts like this, the issue isn't with you at all but with them. Yes, we are accountable for our actions, but we can only control ourselves. We can't control the other person's reactions. It's hard, but sometimes we must realize that not everyone deserves to be part of our life.
Thanks for list. Guilt is always there.
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