Stuck at Home? Anxious? Depressed? - Mental Health Awareness Week

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Mental Health Awareness Week, Day 7

Learn how to break free from worry and negative beliefs and reduce stress

Seven blogs for seven days of Mental Health Awareness Week. Today lets take a look at how, being stuck at home might be causing anxiety and depression. How getting rid of negative beliefs can reduce stress why it is important for your mental health and wellbeing.

Worrying is a form of thinking about the future, defined as thinking about future events in a way that leaves you feeling anxious or apprehensive. Many of us don’t know what the future holds right now and we are all worrying about many things.  When will lcokdown end? When can I see my family? Will I still have a job to go back to? How will I survive, let along thrive?

We’ve all been told that our stresses don’t really matter, that there’s no point in worrying. But have you ever been told that they don’t really even exist?

Well think about it for a minute. Worrying about the future that has not happened yet.  Yes it might but it also might not be as bad as you think.  How does worrying serve you in any way except to make you feel worse? Try these ideas to reduce worry, banish negative belief and feel better.

1. Have a daily worry period and let it go

Write down all your worried on paper.  Use one paper for each worry.  If an anxious thought or worry comes into your head during the day, make a brief note of it and then continue about your day. Remind yourself that you’ll have time to think about it later, so there’s no need to worry about it right now. Also, writing down your thoughts is much harder work than simply thinking them, so your worries are more likely to lose their power. Now find somewhere safe and go burn the worries.  Imagine as the ashes fly that the worries are diminishing and disappearing

2. Challenge negative beliefs

If you suffer from chronic anxiety and worry, chances are you are believe things are much blacker than they actually are. For example, you may overestimate the possibility that things will turn out badly, jump immediately to worst-case scenarios, or treat every anxious thought as if it were fact. You may also distrust your own ability to handle life’s problems, assuming you will fail. These types of thoughts, known as cognitive distortions, include:

  • All-or-nothing thinking, looking at things in black-or-white categories, with no middle ground. “If everything is not perfect, I’m a total failure.”
  • Generalisation from a single negative experience, that it will always be bad. “I failed that exam, I always fail exams.”
  • Focusing on the negatives and missing the positives. Noticing the one thing that went wrong, rather than all the things that went right. After an appriasal meeting you only remember the one improvement point not all the good stuff.
  • Coming up with reasons why positive events don’t count. “I did well on the test, but that was just dumb luck.”
  • Making negative interpretations without evidence. “I just know something terrible is going to happen.”
  • Expecting the worst-case scenario to happen. “The pilot said we’re in for some turbulence. The plane’s going to crash!”
  • Believing that the way you feel reflects reality. “I feel like such a fool. Everyone must be laughing at me.”
  • Assuming responsibility for things that are outside your control. “It’s my fault because i didn’t tell them to be careful.”

How to challenge these beliefs

During your worry period, challenge your negative thoughts by asking yourself:

  • What’s the evidence that the thought is true? That it’s not true?
  • Is there a more positive, realistic way of looking at the situation?
  • What’s the probability it will come to pass?
  • Is the thought helpful? How will worrying about it help me and how will it hurt me?
  • What would I say to a friend who had this worry?
  • Has it happened before?
  • WhenI have worried before did it come to pass?

3. Is your worry solvable?

Productive, solvable worries are those you can take action on right away. For example, if you’re worried finances, you could call your bank to see about flexible payment options. If the worry is solvable, start brainstorming. Keep a journal to help you notice patterns of behavious and negative beliefs.

If the worry is not solvable, accept the uncertainty. Worrying is often a way we try to predict what the future has in store-a way to prevent unpleasant surprises and control the outcome. The problem is, it doesn’t work. Thinking about all the things that could go wrong doesn’t make life any more predictable. Focusing on worst-case scenarios will only keep you from enjoying the good things you have in the present. Make a note of when these things happen and note the circumstances. How can you change the internal dialog? What positive action can you take?

4. Interrupt the worry cycle

Changing your state can help break the cycle of worry:

  • Get up and get moving
  • Get some fresh ai
  • Meditate
  • Dance
  • Practice deep breathing

Take a look at my Simple Stress Busters Video for more ideas.

5. Talk about your worries

Talking with someone who will listen to you without judging is one of the most effective ways to calm your nervous system and diffuse anxiety. When your worries start spiraling, talking them over can make them seem far less threatening. They can also be great at challenging your beliefs and help you see a different path.

Keeping worries to yourself only causes them to build up until they seem overwhelming. But saying them out loud can often help you to make sense of what you’re feeling and put things in perspective. If your fears are unwarranted, verbalizing them can expose them for what they are—needless worries. And if your fears are justified, sharing them with someone else can produce solutions that you may not have thought of alone.

Build a strong support system. Human beings are social creatures. We’re not meant to live in isolation. If you are struggling in isolation take a look at blog from yesterday about social contact.

Keep away from too much social media. It is easy to overdose on the world problems and add to you worry and beliefs that everything is hopeless.  It will make you feel more anxious and helpless.  Limit to maybe once a day to catch the headlines and then go do something fun to feel better.

6. Practice mindfulness

Take a look at the blog for day 2 Be a bit more zen