Everybody faces anxiety from time to time. We all face thoughts that cause us to worry or become stressed out. It’s a natural part of life that everybody experiences. However, if your anxiety becomes so debilitating that it disrupts your life, it might be time to try to get it under control. Using psychological training is a good way to stop your anxiety. Psychology is the study of human behavior and thinking — obviously the perfect discipline to address anxiety. You don’t need to see a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or become one yourself to benefit from what psychology has to offer.
First, you need to determine what is causing you anxiety. You can’t move forward with stopping your anxiety if you’re unclear about where it’s coming from. Spend some quiet time alone reflecting on where your anxiety is coming from. If you have an overwhelming sense of anxiety you need to distill the factors that are actually causing it. Write down the causes of your anxiety on a piece of paper.
Next, you need to begin developing tools and skills to alleviate your specific anxieties. One psychological tool is known as thought-stopping. Usually your anxiety comes from a specific negative thought that keeps entering your mind. Instead of trying to banish a specific thought from your mind you will stop the thought and replace it with something more positive. As the author Dostoevsky showed when he wrote, “Try to avoid thinking of a white bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute,” trying to not think about a specific thought just makes it even more prevalent in your mind. You need a better tool than just trying to not think about something.
Thought stopping is a technique that psychologists use that is very successful. The first step is to list all of your stressful thoughts. Everything that is causing you anxiety should go on this list. You should write these thoughts in order of most stressful to least stressful. You’ll first use the thought stopping technique on the least stressful of the thoughts you listed.
Next, you will sit or lie down in a place where you can be alone. Close your eyes and visualize a situation where you may have this particular anxious thought. You should visualize the situation as clearly and vividly as you possibly can. You will probably notice yourself beginning to feel anxious and stressed.
Once you have a clear visual of the event that is causing you anxiety, you need to stop it. This is why you’ll probably want to be by yourself when you’re first learning this technique. The best way to stop the thought is to startle yourself. One way to do this is to set an alarm for three minutes. Until the alarm sounds, you focus on your unwanted thought. Once the alarm goes off, you shout, “Stop!” Some people also stand up or clap their hands. The other method is to record yourself shouting “Stop!” at intervals of one, two and three minutes. Focus on your unwanted though and stop thinking the thought whenever you hear your recorded voice shouting “Stop!”
Anxiety can be conquered by using this psychological trick. There are other psychological methods for conquering your anxiety as well. The main idea is to replace anxious thoughts with something more positive. The thought stopping technique is the most simple and easiest to master without the assistance and guidance of a trained professional like a psychologist or psychiatrist. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed by anxious thoughts give thought stopping a try. You might just be surprised how well this simple technique works.