What are anxious thoughts?

We all have anxious thoughts sometimes, some more often than others. Often they start in reaction to something external that happened, like someone said something negative about you or you made a mistake. Sometimes they seem to come out of nowhere to bite you in the bum! You may feel like you’re going a bit mad as these thoughts can take on an energy of their own and spiral out of control.

Thoughts like:

  • I’m not good enough
  • I can’t do this
  • Why is this happening to me?
  • What if…? (insert worst thing happening you can think of)
  • I’m stuck and lost, I don’t know which way to turn
  • Why am I so useless?!
  • I should be further ahead than where I am

These worrying thoughts can rage quite an inner battle, especially if you resist them (which why wouldn’t you?), it’s like having a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other, arguing away on every point. If left unchecked, these thoughts can escalate and you can become anxious about the anxiety itself, wondering will this ever stop?

Anxious thoughts are by definition, negative (recognise Debbie Downer anyone?), often scary and usually quite irrational – although we can’t see that when ‘in’ an anxious state. They can be incredibly stressful, debilitating and so overwhelming that they leave us mentally depleted and incapable of taking positive action or even sometimes getting out of bed. They can keep us up at night and cause us to lose sleep and might even turn you into a right drama queen!

Anxious thoughts cause us to sit on the sidelines of life, to stay quiet even though we have something valuable to say, to stay stuck because we don’t feel ready, to talk ourselves out of action for fear of failure, getting it wrong, looking stupid or being judged.

Not what you want, right?

So, what’s the opposite of anxiety? Feeling positive, confident, determined, clear, excited, hopeful, with a strong sense of self-belief, of I can do this!

Better:-) Of course, we all want to feel like that and yet it is impossible to authentically feel like this ALL of the time – and that’s OK.

So, anxious thoughts are definitely not a good thing because they hold us back from fulfilling our dreams. They need to be addressed as early as possible once they start. You probably already have some tools to move through anxiety, but are you able to use them when you’re feeling anxious? Because that’s the annoying catch-22, the very thing you need is probably forgotten about or totally out of reach when the anxious thoughts take hold!

Tools to manage anxiety

There are so many tools you can use to help you quieten anxious thoughts, I’m offering below a very simple one that you can do any time, any where. Of course, it takes practice – they all do. Like many aspects of personal development, there’s no quick fix. Other methods would be things like meditation, mindfulness, exercise, in addition to working on clearing or healing the root cause.

I teach an incredibly powerful tool (which anyone can learn), which helps my women entrepreneurs to step out of their busy, anxious, self-deprecating thoughts and become calmer, more grounded and centred and feel happier and more peaceful. I’ll be sharing this tool and much more at my two taster sessions in May for my Boost YOU to Boost Your Business work.

Check out the details of the 2 tasters (May 9th & 17th) and the next 6-week series here.

How anxious thoughts affect the body

Physiologically anxious thoughts cause nervousness and unease in the body and will cause you to breath more shallowly and quickly and more in your chest. While anxious thoughts can cause shallow chest breathing, the same is true the other way around – shallow chest breathing may cause you to feel more anxious and nervous too.

You can change your state and your thoughts, by shifting your energy and you can do that by doing something different with your physical body. So the quickest antidote to having anxious thoughts is to change your breathing. Deep, slow breathing in the belly will actually bring about a calmer, more grounded feeling and start to positively impact your thoughts too.

BUT! It takes practice, so the best thing is the practice when you’re NOT feeling anxious or having anxious thoughts.

Your Practice:

#1 When you’re feeling good, positive and confident, practice breathing deeply and slowly into and out of your belly for 5 minutes. Sit still with your back upright, all distractions turned off (ie phone on silent) and nothing constricting the movement of your belly (ie no tight clothing). Start with your breathe where you are, just notice it moving in and out of your body. Then keeping your mind gently focused on following your in breath and out breath, gradually slow and deepen your breath over the course of 5 minutes, or more.

#2 Do this slow belly breathing every day for a week (or longer), when you’re feeling good or at least OK.

#3 The next time you start to feel anxious, do the same deep, belly breathing until you feel better (5 minutes+).

Can you do it now? Go on, you have 5 minutes I’m sure – and feeling more grounded will help you be more productive.

Please do leave a comment and let me know how you feel after doing this practice for 5 minutes.

Love Hils x

PS: you may enjoy my last blog on the importance of having ‘me-time’ and slowing down and why it is critical for your success here.

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