How to Problem Solve and Stop Anxiety in Its Tracks

woman with hand on her chest due to anxiety

Have you ever had a nice, stress-free day only to have incredible anxiety the second your head hits your pillow?

Many of us have been there.

It’s not a fun place to be.

Dealing with anxiety, whether you have a diagnosable condition or not, is tough. Anxiety can be debilitating at times. Ongoing rumination and worry only exacerbates the problem leading to symptoms like difficulty sleeping, uneasiness and lower productivity.

But, what if there was a simple strategy that could help you work through those concerns the next day?

Well…there is!

The key to problem solving is to think smaller, not bigger.

I once attended a training from a psychologist on helping clients deal with anxiety. She provided us with a simple, yet effective technique that I’ve talked to clients about ever since. It’s problem solving.

I know that sounds super simple, maybe even too simple. But sometimes the best solutions are very practical and easy to understand. At least, that’s been my experience.

When you’re anxious, your brain actually doesn’t problem solve well. It’s likely because the sympathetic part of your nervous system gets flooded with worry. This worry halts your cognitive (executive) functioning making it difficult to do even the simplest of tasks.

A little bit of journaling and problem-solving can go a long way in managing anxiety.

Simple problem solving is one way to interrupt that process of worry. This will do two things: it will offer you the ability to relax so that you can actually get the rest that you need, AND it will help you feel a lot more in control of your experience while working to solve a problem.

The next time you’re feeling anxious or worried about a problem ask yourself this question:

“What small step can I take in the next 24 hours to positively impact this problem?”

Not solve it, but positively impact it. This ensures that you create a step that is actually accessible within the next day. Too often we get caught up in big, broad steps which leave us feeling even more overwhelmed. Then, your brain is flooded with worry and you simply get “stuck”. And then you’re exhausted from all the worry and unable to move forward. It’s a lose-lose situation.

The next time you find yourself faced with a worry or problem, ask yourself that one simple question and see how quickly your body relaxes and how much easier tackling problems might be.

Therapy is a great tool for managing anxiety. Learn more about how we can help by clicking here.

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