The world can be a scary place, especially if you live alone or have gone through a traumatic experience, but it’s how you react and respond to such negativity that will determine if you live your life in fear or not.
Negative news, in stories, headlines and video are splashed all over the television, online, and social media — you can’t avoid it. I read way too much online and all of those negative, scary stories get inside my head. It’s gotten to the point that my husband has suggested I quit reading certain articles that I know will make me nervous or create a worry. I have taken his advice and am very selective now with the articles or blogs I choose to read or videos I choose to watch. And I’ve also limited myself on how much I’m on social media per day, which has helped tremendously.
Underneath all the worry, I know it’s the thoughts I allow to enter into my mind that make me a frightened person. Most of the time I don’t feel safe in this world with so much terror going on and reading, hearing or watching terrible story after terrible story. It’s exhausting! However, I know it’s my imagination running away with me formulating the worst possible outcomes. In reality these thoughts are extremely irrational. They say that 99 percent of what you worry about will never ever happen. But tell that to my brain when I have a slight chest pain from bad posture and I immediately go to the worst case scenario and think that I’m having a heart attack at 11pm.
To get my fear under control, because no one wants to live with fear-based thinking 24/7, I have found that there are ways to calm my thoughts, find comfort within myself and get back to a sense of security.
When your thoughts start to run away with you, here are some tips on what you can do to make yourself feel safer:
1. Stop and be present. Practicing mindfulness can do wonders to calm the mind. Meditation is a wonderful exercise to start and do every day. It allows you to be still and become present with “what is,” and in that moment, you will find that everything is fine. You are safe. Then throughout the day, try to focus on simple things you normally wouldn’t even think about. For example, when you wash your hands, try to really focus on what you’re doing: feel the warm water rushing over your fingers, smell the soapy suds as they lather in your hands, watch your hands become clean when you rinse them and feel the soft towel as you dry them off. Being present helps to slow the mind down and concentrate on the “now” moment.
2. Remember a safe time in your life. Maybe it’s when you were a child, a teenager, or in college. Think back about how you felt during that time of your life. Who were you around? Imagine them by you right now. Where were you? Imagine being back in that safe place. What were you doing? Think about the fun you were having and how happy you were back then. Allow yourself to feel safe and secure in the present moment just like you were in your old memories.
3. Think of the worst possible outcome. I know this sounds counterintuitive but if you imagine the worst case scenario, then you can start imagining what you would do in that situation. You can even make a plan of action so you would know how to handle yourself and choose how you would react to a terrible situation. Surprisingly, it might make you feel better because you have a plan and you won’t be going into such unknown territory if a tragedy were to happen.
4. Take a hot bath or shower. Whether you’re not feeling well or just want to feel clean and refreshed, a hot shower or bubble bath may do the trick. If you like the bath route, make it a nice quiet time for yourself by using your favorite bath salts or bubbles, light some candles and put on some soft music. Suddenly, you’ll notice all the worry melt away.
5. Cuddle up in your favorite blanket or clothes. Do you have a favorite soft blanket or afghan, or a cozy outfit you like to relax in, like sweatpants and a sweatshirt? Sometimes, we just want to feel secure in comfort, so snuggle up on the couch or bed in your favorite lounge outfit or with your blanket and watch a funny movie or read a good book.
6. Drink your favorite hot beverage. There’s nothing like a big mug of hot chocolate or hot chamomile tea with honey to calm your nerves down. Sipping your favorite hot beverage will soothe the body and calm down the mind. Again, you can practice mindfulness here. Notice the taste of the drink and how the hot liquid runs down your throat and warms your belly. Enjoy the moment.
7. Do a fun activity in your favorite “safe” place. What is one of your most favorite activities to do in one of the safest places you like to be? Think about it, then go do it. Get your mind off of worrying and focus on having fun and being happy. Maybe you love to watch comedies with your family on the couch, or read a good book cuddled up in bed, or paint a picture outside on your patio, or make a delicious meal in your kitchen. Whatever you love to do, make time for yourself to do it.
8. Talk to a loved one about how you’re feeling. Sometimes there’s nothing better than getting your feelings out of your system and sharing them with a loved one. It can be your spouse, child, parent, sibling, other family member or close friend. If they don’t live with you, call them or email them. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, buy a journal and write out your thoughts. Soon after releasing your fears, you will find yourself feeling better knowing you were thinking fear-based thoughts. You may even feel a little foolish.
9. Create a vision board. This activity allows you to focus on what you want in life instead of what you don’t want. Fill as many boards as you’d like with clippings from magazines, journals, articles, etc. to describe the kind of life you want to live. Then put it somewhere you will see it every day and take just a few minutes to visualize that life and concentrate on achieving your goals and dreams so that eventually, you will be living the life you want. When you think about all the positive things you want for your future, there’s no room for negative thinking and fear to enter. You will only have love in your heart.
Transform your destructive fears into positive energy and newfound freedom by following Lucinda Basset’s techniques for treating anxiety in From Panic to Power.
Want more? You might also like:
Jessica Espinoza is the author of Real Food 101. Read more about Jessica’s food journey and discover delicious recipes on JessicaEspinoza.com.