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7 Effective Thought-Stopping Techniques For Curbing Anxiety

Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2019 and filed under

Thoughtful stressed young man with a mess in his head

Thought-stopping is one of the most effective ways to deal with anxiety at a particular moment. It’s an effective strategy that allows us to think through the anxiety by interrupting our thoughts. As a result, it helps us achieve higher clarity.

Anxiety, a common mental health issue, is more common than you think. Millions deal with it on a regular, sometimes daily basis. However, anxiety is also a normal part of the human experience. It can be a biological and healthy reaction to the environmental stressors as well.

That being said, anxiety creates a problem when it shifts from a manageable, temporary worry to intolerable, heightened panic. The panic, for instance, can cause issues with your ability to work, interfering with your personal and social relationships. It can also make it difficult for you to function normally, leaving you feeling scared and uncomfortable.

The Top 7 Effective Thought-Stopping Strategies

Thought-stopping is one of the most effective ways to deal with anxiety at a particular moment. The strategy interrupts our catastrophic thinking, giving clarity to our minds.

Here are seven effective ways to make thought-stopping easier.

  1. Scattered counting

Counting up to 10 (or down) can help deal with anger quite well. The same method, however, isn’t effective for anxiety as the process is like a reflex and doesn’t distract our brain much. Counting chronologically allows our mind to focus on things causing the anxiety.

Scattered counting can, therefore, help. You can start with any number and jump onto another one — for example, 7, 49, 85, 13, and so on. Choosing the next number on the list requires more concentration. Subsequently, it takes your mind off the things that are troubling you.

  1. Verbal interruption

Verbal interruption is one of the most common methods to stop a thought in its track. You can speak out loud or say some words to yourself in your head. Saying things like “stop!”, “enough!”, Or “not now!” forces your brain to take a pause. This way, your brain can take a breather and focus on something else. Whenever your anxiety seems to take over, you can do this as many times as you need to calm our mind.

  1. Positive self-talk

Try restructuring your thoughts into empowering statements. This method works well if the thoughts aren’t that negative or scary. For example, instead of thinking that you’re scared that you’ll fail your test, you can try, “It’s okay to feel scared, and I’ll get through this.” When your coach your thoughts to take a positive spin on your anxiety, it eventually subsides. Once you’re through, you can congratulate yourself for not giving in.

  1. What’s the worst that could happen?

We often think of the worst-case scenarios when anxious. We hop from the thought of being nervous about a presentation to performing poorly to lose our job. So, when you think about the worst-case scenario, think about what will you do if it does come true. For example, if you do lose your job, how’d you handle it? What would be your next step? How’d you revamp your resume or use your connections in the industry to apply for better positions? Imagining tackling the worst possible situations helps you feel less scared about the outcome. It gives you the confidence that even if the worst were to happen, you’d be able to get through it.

  1. Auditory distraction

Our thoughts are loud and don’t let us make any space for something else. You can drown that voice with an external auditory distraction. Whenever you’re anxious, put on your favorite music, podcast, or an audiobook. Your mind will soon be distracted by the content it’s hearing, helping you calm down.

  1. Muscle isolation

Anxiety puts negative thoughts and obsessions in our brain on a loop and leaves us feeling stuck. We can draw the attention of our brain to our body instead, with the help of muscle isolation.

The first step is to sit comfortably on the edge of your bed, or a chair. You can close your eyes if you feel like it. After that, start squeezing and holding each of your muscles. Hold the muscle and count until five. At the end of the count, leave the muscle and let it relax. You can start from the ones in your toes and move upwards. You can move from your calves to the abdomen and up to your head. After that, you can run down your arms and stop when you reach your fingers. This exercise releases the tension stuck in your brain through your body.

  1. Meditation

The idea of meditation alone puts many people to sleep. It always seems like an idea that’d work for other people but not you. However, science has stated otherwise and shows that meditation is quite effective in curbing anxiety. Regular meditation rewires your brain and strengthens its ability to deal with strong emotions. You can start by practicing mindful breathing for five minutes a day and then work it up to an hour over time. You can picture your anxious thoughts at this time and try to relax.

Anxiety puts our brain in a loop of “what-if” thoughts, which are challenging to get out of. It’s a scary experience, but you can overcome it with the given thought-stopping exercises. They will help you curb anxiety and make every situation seem a little less frightening.