A psychologist explains the 6 best ways to rewire your brain to let go of anxiety

Image credit: Shutterstock - By Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley

Anxiety inflicts all of us on a regular basis.

Whether you experience the type of anxiety that leaves you frozen in your room for days at a time, or the subtler cases exhibited only in nail-biting and teeth-gnashing, you are more than familiar with the symptoms anxiety can cause: shallow breathing, sweaty palms, a racing heart—these are all caused by the “fight or flight” response going into overdrive, activating several responses at once.

Melanie Greenberg wants to help you beat that anxiety away.

A Ph.D. cognitive-behavior therapist who has been treating patients with anxiety for over the last 15 years, in Psychology Today Greenberg describes 6 proven and effective techniques that she regularly introduces to her anxiety-ridden patients. 

We’ve summarized  them below:

1) Face Your Fears

It may be cliché, but one of the best things you can do for your anxiety is to simply face your fears.

By pushing yourself into situations that make you anxious and gradually becoming comfortable with the situation, you can melt away the anxiety slowly over time. Familiarity is the key towards moving forward.

2) Shift Focus from Your Fears to Your Values

Anxiety is when we’re too caught up in what we fear, and thus to ease your anxiety, you must loosen the grip fear has over you.

ACT, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, teaches you to accept that fear is a part of life, and therefore we shouldn’t let it control us.

Turn your focus away from worrying about your fears, and towards the idea of living out your values.

3) Breathe and Relax

One exercise that is so simple yet so easily forgotten is to simply escape from your situation and just breathe.

By mindfully breathing and relaxing the tension in our muscles, we automatically calm down, mentally and physically. Let your nervous system naturally put an end to your worries.

4) Think About the Threat

Often when we are anxious, it’s because we are faced with a sizable dilemma and we are afraid of the outcome.

However, most of the time the outcome isn’t nearly as bad as we assume. You just need time to step back and reevaluate the issue properly.

5) Become Mindful of What You Are Doing

Anxiety blinds us from the rest of the world, and even from ourselves. We lose track of our reactions and responses, emotionally and physically.

Recognize your actions, and ask yourself how necessary they actually are, if at all. This will soothe your panic and help you analyze whether you are acting rationally.

6) Decatastrophize

What does this mean? It means solving the issue that happened. Anxiety isn’t always an overreaction; sometimes bad things do happen.

But if that’s the case, then it’s time to pick yourself up and fix it. Take the appropriate steps and measures to right what has been wronged; recognize that as bad as the situation may have been, it wasn’t the end of the world.

Check out Hack Spirit's eBook on How to Use Buddhist Teachings for a Mindful, Peaceful and Happy Life.

Here's what you'll learn:

• How and why to be mindful: There are many simple exercises you can do to bring a mindful attitude to quotidian activities such as eating breakfast, walking the dog, or sitting on the floor to stretch.

• How to meditate: Many beginning meditators have a lot of questions: How should I sit? How long should I meditate? What if it feels awkward or uncomfortable or my foot falls asleep? Am I doing it wrong? In this book, you’ll find simple steps and explanations to answer these questions and demystify meditation. (And no, you’re not doing it wrong).

• How to approach relationships: This section offers tips for interacting with friends and enemies alike and walks you through a loving kindness meditation.

• How to minimize harm: There is a lot of suffering in the world; it’s best for everyone if we try not to add to it. Here you’ll read about the idea of ahimsa (non-harming) and how you might apply it to your actions.

• How to let things go: As Buddhism teaches, excessive attachment (whether we’re clinging to something or actively resisting it) all too often leads to suffering. Practitioners of mindfulness meditation find peace in letting go and accepting things as they are in the moment.

Check it out here.

Pearl Nash