When I Feel Anxious, My First Step Is To ‘Get Out Of My Head’
For those who are prone to depression and anxiety, getting carried away by thoughts and the subsequent emotions they may drudge up can feel like a part of daily existence. It can be hard to know if the anxiety and depression amplify the negative thoughts you're already experiencing, or vice versa. Either way, it's up to you and me to do our best to break that cycle.
Because of the nature of our modern world, we are continually bombarded with messages all day long. Some of those are good and uplifting. Some are not. We do have some power over what we are allowing into our psyche. If you find you're feeding yourself negativity and toxic material, choosing to avoid that is step number one. It seems strange, but we can program our own minds, to some extent.
Today, many of us can feel quite isolated, in spite of social media. Even moreso during the quarantine. If we spend too much time feeling disconnected, taking in all kinds of stress-producing info and ruminating on it, and we're not spending enough time living in the physical world, this can start to be a problem for anyone. But, if we are already prone to melancholy, we may more likely to fall into the downward vortex of "overthinking." When we do that, we are just asking for Depression, and his/her cousin, Anxiety to come for a visit.
The Greek philosopher Plato wrote about those who are continually "feasting on their own thoughts" and how it caused them sadness and frustration in their lives. It's hard to imagine that something said twenty-four hundred years ago could be said of modern humans. For the record, I'm all about thinking. The last thing we need is for more people to *not* think. It's a matter of learning to rule over our thoughts, rather than letting them rule over us.
One of the best ways to avoid getting stuck in our thoughts? Get out and connect in the physical world. Call a friend. Take a walk. Have coffee with your brother. Go to the gym. Meet up with a community group that reaches out to those less fortunate. All of these are great ways to shift your mental paradigm. Keep doing that.
Also, I have found that meditation really, really helps me. It doesn't have to be woo-woo at all. I personally enjoy the Calm or Headspace app. Just try it for 30 days. You may feel like you're doing nothing until one day...well. You just have to do it and experience the difference. It's difficult to articulate. It's a bit like seeing your thoughts from a birds' eye view, more objectively. That can be freeing.
Let me refer you to an article from Forbes that I found helpful several years ago. Let me know how it goes.
Disclaimer: We are not doctors. If you are seriously depressed or anxious, please see a medical professional. This is not intended to replace counsel and, if needed, medical intervention. Please don't hesitate to seek therapy. It can be truly life-changing.
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