Anxiety feeds off of obsessive thoughts, and they can truly be the bane of existence from the many Americans who are plagued by them. Obsessive thoughts are maleficent intruders that poison your mind and deprive you of peace, but they can be overcome. Read on to learn more about obsessive thought patterns and how they can be defeated.
An obsessive thought rarely stands on its own. It’s akin to a malignancy that will continue to grow in your mind and lead to numerous physical and emotional problems until you decide to destroy it. These obsessive thoughts won’t go away on their own, so it’s up to you to fight them with everything you’ve got. The best way to deal with obsessive thoughts is to fight them through cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of therapy focuses on distorted thought patterns that lead to anxiety. Common examples of cognitive distortions include all-or-nothing thinking and catastrophizing, or “making a mountain of a molehill.” Most anxiety sufferers feel anxious because they’re not thinking realistically, and cognitive-behavioral therapy is designed to help them overcome that. Keep in mind that this is only a short-term therapy, as the eventual goal is to train you to become your own therapist.
There are also a variety of lifestyle changes that you can make to leave yourself better equipped to fight anxiety. Perhaps the most important of these is to make sure that you get plenty of sleep at night. Most people do not get the recommended eight hours of sleep every day, but it is vitally important for anxiety sufferers. Your body needs this time to relax, and studies have shown that sleep deprivation can worsen anxiety symptoms. To make this an easier proposition, clear out the clutter in your bedroom and transform it into calm, relaxing environment where you can escape from the stresses of the world. Turn off all electronic devices at least an hour before retiring, and cut back on the caffeine for at least a few hours before bedtime.
Exercise and nutrition also pack a powerful punch against anxiety. Only consume caffeine in moderate doses, because too much caffeine can exacerbate anxiety attacks. Instead, try sipping a soothing cup of chamomile tea, which is well-known for its relaxing qualities. Other herbs to consider are kava kava and passionflower, as well as St. John’s wort. However, make sure to get permission from your doctor -to use these supplements if you are currently taking another medication, as the combination of the two can have serious consequences. Try to get at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day, even if it’s only by walking. Getting your heart rate up causes your brain to release endorphins that promote a sense of well-being, and some studies show that exercise is as effective for treating anxiety as medication. Yoga has also been shown to treat anxiety, as it promotes levels of anxiety-reducing GABA in the brain.
Finally, breathing and relaxation techniques are vital for many people in overcoming anxiety. To breathe properly, take a deep breath in to the count of five, hold the breath for five seconds, and then slowly release. There are many variations of this, but this is the best way to begin practicing. The ultimate goal is to get you to take breaths into your diaphragm and concentrate on those breaths. Progressive relaxation is another technique can also be helpful. To practice progressive relaxation, lie down in a comfortable place and tense a set of muscles, hold the tension for a few seconds, and then slowly concentrate on the release. Watch your breathing as you do this, and make sure to concentrate on the difference between the tension and release. Ideally, you should do this for every major muscle group in your body.
Obsessive thoughts don’t have to rule your life. It’s now or never-make today the day that you will start your journey toward living anxiety-free.
“Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.” Mayo Clinic <http://www.mayoclinic.com> 22 Jan 2012.