The spiral of anxiety is a bit like flushing the toilet. You know exactly what’s on the other end, but you flush anyway. Oh, and you totally peek before you do, don’t you?
When anxiety spirals out of control, you spiral with it. Your mind, your thoughts and your emotion drown with the darkness. And once you are there amongst the bottom of the deep it is almost impossible to get out.
So how do you stop the spiral of anxiety from looking like that deplorable thing that just flushed down the toilet? How can you hope to stop it from happening in the first place?
What is the spiral of anxiety?
So, you are sitting in your office at work scrolling through Instagram, watching as the perfect lives of your friends and loved one’s play out in front of you. You begin to think about your own life. You know, the one littered with imperfections because you’re real. Suddenly, a maverick thought approaches. “Am I going to work here for the rest of my life?” And then another. “Is this my destiny? I’m 35, beyond my prime and I am beginning to bald.” And another. “I’ll probably end up alone, this debt is killing me. What type of woman would be interested in me anyway? Good god, I can’t even keep my cats around. Leo got out last week and now he has his own website.” And then, the granddaddy of all thoughts happens.
“I’m a worthless piece of sh—.”
This – is the spiral of anxiety. Or better yet, “The Matrix.”
Although it may not be nearly as flashy, or look as good in leather, the spiral of anxiety can do diabolical things to your mind. One minute, you might be happy as a clam. The next, you’re borrowing though the rabbit hole faster than Dorothy ever did.
The spiral of anxiety is a negative vortex assembled by your mind and only you can stop it. (Only you can prevent forest fires.) But today, the Lion is going to help you.
Rationalize your thoughts and anchor them to reality
The spiral of anxiety is real and if you ever hope to get rid of it you need to change your mindset. When you are spiralling, those improbable things that happen to 1% of people suddenly become the most likely thing to ever happen to you in your godforsaken life. Or, so you think.
But once you step back and think for a second, you will realize your fears are unsubstantiated and a bit exaggerated. Breathe, and think to yourself, “am I overthinking this?” (Trick question.) Yes! Yes, you are. Listen, a spider bit you, but that doesn’t mean you are going to suddenly harness the abilities of Spiderman. Although, that would be awesome. Most likely you’ll get a quite mundane bug bite. But, that’s all. (Just put some cream on it, you’ll be fine.)
Once you begin to think rationally, even amidst the spiral of anxiety you will find that you can break your line of thinking. Tether your thoughts to reality and use the past knowledge of knowing that everything is fine and will be just as fine as it was before.
So mental gymnastics and breathing techniques are not your thing? Maybe you’re too lazy for yoga and other wellness activities? (Well, if you tend to ruminate on the same subject matter over and over again and there’s something you can actually do about it – then, do it. Why are you still at your computer? Go, now. If you have been thinking about a girl and how she’ll say no to your bridling request of a dalliance – ask her. If your anxiety makes you think you have a heart condition, get checked by a doctor. Getting rid of doubt will give you another ally in your corner, because the next time you spiral you can assure yourself that everything is fine.
Feel free to freak out about your date with Sheila now that she said yes. You’re welcome.
Stop obsessing about the future.
Stop living in the future. The spiral of anxiety, or anxiety in general, is a by-product of fear and fear is derived from thinking and concerning yourself about the future. This ominous entity you cannot see or stop from happening. You cannot change the future, all you can do is be the best version of yourself today. Essentially, the future doesn’t exist, so stop worrying about it.
Besides, you are not a clairvoyant that can penetrate the veil and see the future and even if you could, nothing is certain, so enjoy your life and rummage a smile from time to time you cranky bastard.
Knowing where it leads
“You’ve been down there Neo. You know that road. You know exactly where it ends. And I know that’s not where you want to be.” – Trinity.
The spiral of anxiety never changes. It always leads to the same place – mainly with you feeling like a pile of poop. But, you don’t have to stay on that ride. Get off now and stop feeding into the spiral. You have full control of yourself and when it comes to anxiety, you are your own worst enemy. So, get off the anxiety express and take a different ride. I hear universal studios is great this time of year.
Stop the spiral of anxiety by changing the scenery
If you begin to feel the negative spiral of anxiety happening. If the tide is rising fast and the hurricane force winds are about to blow, then don’t just sit there passively and let it happen. Get out! Get up and leave. Go for a walk, a run. Do something. If a chain of thoughts is causing you to feel bad about a situation then do something to stop thinking about it. One of my best suggestions is watching a comedy special, or anything on YouTube. Or, if you are so inclined, read my blog. I hear it’s the cat’s meow – or something.