How to Stop Thinking About Your Anxiety
If you’ve ever lamented, “I can’t stop thinking about my anxiety,” take heart. You’re not alone, and there’s nothing wrong with you or the way your mind thinks. This is a common complaint among anxiety sufferers. It happens because anxiety is so all-consuming that it pushes itself to the forefront of our thoughts. It doesn’t have to stay that way. Keep reading to discover how to stop thinking about your anxiety.
Chances are, if you are frustrated by the fact that you keep thinking about anxiety and your anxiety symptoms, you are aware of your thoughts. Congratulations. Believe it or not, knowing that you’re thinking about your anxiety is an important first step in stopping negative thoughts. According to Stephen Hayes (2007), over time, we merge with our thoughts so that they become the center of who we think we are; consequently, we start to see the world and ourselves through our thoughts. Our thoughts are our lens for seeing things.
With anxiety so prominent, we naturally think about it seemingly constantly. Knowing that we’re doing this is an important step as you learn to stop thinking about anxiety. The awareness allows you to proceed to the below tips.
Practice Self-Care to Stop Thinking About Anxiety
When you begin to take care of your whole self, “you become the leader of your thoughts, not the follower of your fears” (Tristan, 2012, p. 62). When we keep thinking about anxiety, we do see the world through anxiety, and worry and fears tend to take over. Practicing self-care strengthens us to take back our thoughts.
Paying attention to what you eat and drink to provide your brain and body with proper nutrition gives brain, and thus mind, a boost (there are even foods that help with anxiety and vitamins for anxiety to try). Proper sleep helps, as does regular exercise. When we are physically well, we are less vulnerable to succumbing to experiences like anxiety, stress, and depression; further, we can stand up to our thoughts and stop thinking about anxiety.
Think of Popeye. To equip himself to fight off his nemeses, he ate well and sang, “I’m strong to the finish ‘cause I eats me spinach. I’m Popeye the sailor man!” He powered up, and he knew who he was. He didn’t think about anxiety but moved forward toward his goals. Channel your inner Popeye.
Be a Distant Observer
Constantly thinking about anxiety entraps us. We become tangled in our anxiety so much that it’s difficult to free ourselves and our thoughts. Difficult, yes, but not impossible. In reality, you are not your anxiety. This fact is helpful as you stop thinking about anxiety.
Begin to just observe yourself and your thoughts from a distance. When you are aware of your thoughts about anxiety, you can catch them. Tell yourself, without judging or berating, “I’m thinking about my anxiety.” Then, intentionally shift your thoughts to something else. This might seem unnatural at first, but with repeated practice, you’ll not only find it easier, you’ll find that you need to do less and less (How to Use Meditation for Anxiety and Panic Attacks).
Being a distant observer combines well with meditation. When you sit in quiet meditation, you can simply let your thoughts come and go. When you notice yourself thinking about anxiety, point it out non-judgmentally to yourself and let it float away. Again, at first your entire meditation session might involve doing this, and that’s okay. It’s part of the process.
How to Stop Thinking About Anxiety: Create a Calm Mind Plan
Borrowing from the idea of a Life Stability Plan (Imparato, 2016), you can create a calm mind plan. This is a plan for replacing thoughts about anxiety with positive affirmations that bring a sense of contentment.
As you create your plan of thoughts and action, think of who you are at your core, beyond anxiety. What brings you joy? What induces a sense of peace despite anxiety? What are your strengths? Interests? Use what you love to take the necessary action to replace your thoughts about anxiety with thoughts about the good in your life.
Consider the following elements for your calm mind plan:
- What self-care practices can you incorporate into your everyday life?
- What are some positive activities that you enjoy? Make a list and do at least one thing daily.
- How can you cultivate a sense of awe, an appreciation for something greater, something beautiful that captures your attention and thoughts? Examples include stargazing, water (rivers, oceans, small fountains, etc.), art, music, and much more. Awe “clears away inner turmoil with a wave of outer immensity” (Flora, 2016, p. 52).
- Get outside. Nature calms mind and body and reduces stress. Both soothing and invigorating, nature shifts our thoughts away from anxiety.
Self-care, being a distant observer of your thoughts, and creating a calm mind plan are intentional actions that enhance each other. Together, they comprise an effective plan for how to stop thinking about your anxiety.
Last Updated: 17 May 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD