Welcome back to the Confident Careerist podcast. My name’s Teena Evert, and I’m so glad you’re tuning in to today’s episode.
I provide career coaching to professionals who want to transform their careers into meaningful, satisfying, and prosperous work. I primarily focus on career clarity, confidence building, strategic job search strategies, and strength-based planning and development in my work with clients.
I also provide counseling services. As a licensed mental health professional, I specialize in providing solution-focused care for individuals who need support navigating rough spots in their personal or professional life. In my work with clients, we focus on stress management, coping with anxiety and depression, life and career adjustments, self-esteem, and identity development.
In today’s episode, I’m going to share some strategies and techniques to help you stop the worry and step into feeling more confident in your ability to manage stress and anxiety.
I chose this topic because, let’s face it, there’s a lot to worry about with all the world’s turmoil.
The number of people seeking mental health services has surged over the past year as stress and anxiety increase, uncertainty grows, and exhaustion sets in from not feeling in control of our lives and more areas than just our health and livelihood.
Clients tell me that their biggest struggle is the time and energy spent on worrying. They are worried about what will happen tomorrow, in a week, a month, and even a year from now.
Worried about getting sick, not spending time with their family, concerned about their kids, worried about their job, worried about – fill in the blank __________ I think I’ve heard just about everything!
It’s a severe issue driving the surge of people seeking a mental health professional to help them stop the worry and get their anxiety under control.
What is worry?
When you are worried, you experience unpleasant thoughts that you can’t seem to get out of your head. Some people describe the thoughts as annoying bugs that keep buzzing around and won’t leave you alone.
It can be normal to have worries, everyone worries about something from time to time. It becomes a problem when your fears get in the way of living your life to the point where you’re unhappy, and your unhappiness begins to impact the quality of your life.
Often people have stopped doing the things that once gave them energy, like exercising regularly, eating healthily, spending time with people they care about, planning fun weekend get-a-ways to look forward to, etc. As a result, we feel drained, uninspired, down-and-out, and worried.
When we worry, our body’s physiology starts to change, and sometimes it can feel like we’re losing control. If our worry turns into panic, it can feel scary. Common symptoms are a rapid heartbeat, feeling hot, sweating, feeling sick, and shaking.
These symptoms can be very uncomfortable and unsettling; therefore, I want to give you some strategies to manage your worry and anxious thoughts.
Keep in mind that feeling anxious often forces us to focus on our problems and search for solutions. It can become a catalyst for personal growth and making significant improvements to how you live your life.
However, if your anxiety is growing to the point where you think it’s out of control and it’s crippling your ability to problem-solve, then irrational thoughts often play a role.
Anxiety gets magnified by irrational thoughts. An irritation thought is when you think that something terrible will happen or that you will make a devastating mistake, yet there is no evidence that this is true, and it still impacts how you feel.
Doing some investigating or exploring to determine the accuracy of your thoughts can help you change your thoughts. It’s powerful because your thoughts have the power to change how you feel.
Your thoughts have the power to change how you feel.Teena Evert
Here are some questions to ask the irrational thoughts that are fueling your anxiety:
- Is my thought based on facts or feelings?
- How would a close friend see this situation?
- How likely is it that my fear will come true?
- What’s most likely to happen?
- If my fear comes true, will it still matter in a week? A month? A year?
There’s a strategy you can practice to deal with these irrational thoughts. It helps you catch your irrational thoughts and replace them with rational alternatives. It takes some consistent practice before it becomes a natural way to manage the anxiety that fuels your irrational thinking.
Here’s how you might go about putting this strategy into practice. First, I want you to take a moment to reflect on a common situation that triggers your anxiety or worry.
You’ll know something is a trigger when you’re in the situation, and you start to feel changes in your body, such as a rapid heartbeat, sweating, feeling hot, feeling sick, and/or shaking.
Our thinking also gets distorted when we feel anxious, causing us to overestimate the likelihood of something going wrong and imagining things are much worse than they are. These are the irrational thoughts that begin to distort our thinking.
When we can take a moment to notice what’s happening, we can learn to catch the irrational thought and replace it with a rational alternative.
When faced with an anxiety-producing situation, take time to slow down and describe to yourself three outcomes – the worst outcome, the best outcome, and the likely outcome.
Although I am not the kind of person who would encourage you to dive in and explore the worst outcome, in this case, I do want you to take a moment to imagine the worst outcome coming true.
Then I’d like you to reflect on whether it would still matter- one week from now, one month from now, or even one year from now.
This particular strategy illustrates that when we worry and give into our anxious thoughts, we tend to focus on the worst possible outcomes, even when they aren’t likely.
The key to getting your worry under control is to pause and give yourself a moment to practice catching your irrational thought. Once you notice it, then further describe the worst, best, and likely outcomes.
If the worst outcome keeps pushing its way into the front row of your mind, then stay with it by exploring the impact if it were to come true and reflect on how it would matter in one week, one month, or even one year from now.
This process is not easy, but it can be incredibly helpful in getting a handle on your worries. With consistent practice, you can catch your irrational thoughts early and replace them with a rational alternative.
The more you can experience a sense of control over your worry and anxious thoughts, the more confident you will feel. You will have gained the ability to manage uncertainty in a way that doesn’t interfere with your day-to-day activities.
You will be able to take care of yourself because you’ll get the energy back to re-engage in activities that allow you to flourish.
A few other techniques and strategies for coping with anxiety are probably ones you are already familiar with; however, are you putting them into practice?
Breathwork is the practice of utilizing breathing exercises to increase mindful self-awareness. Specific breathing techniques expand conscious awareness and promote physical, emotional, and spiritual health and healing.
Mindfulness techniques can help you maintain emotional health and wellness by noticing thought patterns that impact your emotional experience.
Solution-focused guided imagery and learning to catch your irrational thoughts help you understand and create solutions to reduce suffering.
As I mentioned a few minutes ago, your thoughts have the power to change how you feel. If you think of something sad, you’ll likely start to feel sad. The opposite is also true: When you think of something positive and calming, you feel relaxed. Solution-focused guided imagery is a technique that harnesses this power to reduce anxiety.
If you have been dealing with a mountain of worry to the point where you don’t feel like you can get a handle on your anxious thoughts, I invite you to reach out to receive support from a mental health professional.
As a licensed mental health counselor, I specialize in providing solution-focused care for individuals who need support navigating rough spots in their personal or professional life. I offer monthly and quarterly telehealth plans by application only.
Until next time, take the time to tame your worry, and be confident!