Anxiety exists in many forms. Some people experience panic attacks, some don’t. Some see their anxiety growing after a stressful event in their life, some experience it everyday in a more generalized way. One thing is for sure: Anxiety something that we all feel, it’s just as normal as experiencing sadness or joy. It become a problem when it takes too much space in your life and becomes a barrier to your well being.
I am a very anxious person. But until a couple of years ago, I didn’t know just how much of an anxious person I was. Anxiety was something I felt so often in my life, and I was so used to having it taking over my life. I noticed just how much, the day I started looking up for tricks to stop biting my nails. It may seem strange, but I will explain more in details.
One of the tricks to stop biting your nails, is to really try to notice every time you do it, then you stop. It might sound basic and ridiculous, but when I started taking note of every time I took my fingers to my mouth, I realized I was doing it way more often than I thought. It was almost automatic, without thinking, I did it, and I was never aware of it more than half of the time.
I didn’t stop there. Every time I caught myself doing it, I also took a moment to notice what I was thinking at that time. And so I realized every single time I was biting my nails, I was in a mindset of stress, and anxiety. I was either thinking about something negative, worrying about something, stressed over silly stuff, waiting on something that bothered me etc.
So not only did I had the bad habit of biting my nails and it was a lot more frequent than I thought, but I also experienced anxiety and stress SO often everyday. I had to find a way to control that anxiety, and be a more relaxed person. So I started looking up and practicing exercises to be more at peace in my mind. I will share everything that helps me in my next anxiety post.
But the first thing to do if you have anxiety, and I learned that a little later, is to notice, every time your mind wanders into anxious, stressful, negative, unproductive thoughts. The same trick I learned for stopping to bite my nails, was also the starting point to controlling my anxiety.
You have to be more aware of what’s going on in your head. It takes practice. It takes moments when you have to really stop what you are doing and take a minute or two to just notice what was going on.
We live a fast-paced life, and it’s almost like our minds are doing their own things. We rarely stop and notice… we don’t “filter” our thoughts. We let them flow. And they keep running and they have a huge impact in our lives, in our well being.
So for now, the first thing you have to do is learn to stop, sometimes, and listen to your mind. And “filter”. When you catch yourself having one of those negative, irrational, anxious thoughts, catch it, and let it go. And go back to the present moment.
This is the first thing you have to learn and to practice. Don’t just let your mind roll on auto-pilot. Notice.