“Stop thinking, and end your problems”
One of the most common worries for anxiety sufferers is health anxiety.
When your symptoms are so strong, overpowering and all consuming, it’s no wonder you believe there has to be something else which is causing you to feel the way you do.
Something much, much worse that is causing you too feel so ill.
“Why do I feel this way?”
“How can I feel so bad?”
“What is going on?”
“Surely this can’t just be anxiety?”
“There has to be something else wrong with me?”
Well, for many people, these questions play over and over in their heads.
So today, my friends, I want to talk to you about how your thoughts can make you feel the way you do.
We will be looking at why not only your anxious thinking and state of mind is able to make you feel ill, but how this keeps you stuck in the anxiety cycle and what you can do to break free.
Anxiety and panic can make you feel terrible
When I say terrible, I mean TERRIBLE.
The range of symptoms reported is vast, affecting both your mental and physical health.
From confusion, brain fog and depression to tremors, shakes and heart palpitations. When at their worst they can really stop you being you and being able to function in the world.
When you have felt this way for many months or even years it can feel like you are trapped in a tangled web deep inside a giant maze.
Escape seems impossible and, in the end, you give up hope and all you are left with is the feeling of being completely lost.
The answer you are looking for, to be well again, appears to be more complicated than you’ll ever be able to grasp.
Thankfully this doesn’t have to be the case, all you need is to fully understand why you feel this way and how to use this information to help you recover.
This simple knowledge is what made a huge difference to me and the way I now feel.
Sometimes the simplest things can make all the difference, but only if you understand why.
Why you feel the way you do
Let me first start with an assumption……
If you’ve had feelings of anxiety and panic for a little while now, you’ve probably done your fair share of reading into what it is, what causes it and what you can do to try and relieve it.
But if you’re here reading this, I’m also going to assume that all this knowledge has done little to help.
Knowing all the science and neurological factors behind anxiety is all well and good, but all you really need to know is this:
Your brain is no longer functioning as it should.
Now, don’t panic, there is no need to worry.
Your brain is fine, it is just your mind which is currently not.
So what has caused your brain to stop working like it used to?
Before I had anxiety, I never realised how powerful a thought could be.
Now I fully respect the fact that constant, worry, negative thinking and the stress they cause can make you feel ill.
It seems a little far fetched right? How can thinking make you feel so bad?
Well to help explain this, I’m going to use a very simple analogy…..
We all know that exercise is good for you and one form of exercise I do is going for a run.
But what if you went for a run and didn’t stop, how long do you think it would take until something felt wrong?
My guess, for most people, not very long.
Your muscles would soon start to ache as the lactic acid built up, and even if you could push through the pain it wouldn’t take long for your energy resources to be depleted.
Eventually you just wouldn’t be able to go on, if you tried any longer you’d probably collapse, be sick and even pass out.
Afterwards you’d feel exhausted and unwell, you’d need food, water and a good amount of rest to feel better again.
Well this is exactly what your anxiety is doing to your brain.
By constantly thinking and worrying about all the things you do, you are pushing your mind passed its normal healthy functioning state.
Do this for long enough and there has to be a reaction.
It makes you feel the way you do.
Your brain is just not able to cope any longer and it makes you feel mentally and physically ill.
But of course, you have anxiety, so instead of realising this, you start believing something else much worse has to be wrong.
Now just like the running can make you feel dizzy and give you a headache, the mental fatigue of anxiety can cause all kinds of physical symtoms too.
The body and mind are closely interlinked, overwork one and it will affect the other too.
All the symptoms your anxiety is giving you comes down to one thing and one thing only, a tired and overworked brain.
It cannot keep functioning at that level for long and its message to you is very clear….
Just like your muscles scream out stop when you don’t give them a rest, this is exactly what your mind is doing too.
But you don’t stop, instead you now just add on top of this the worry about how you now feel.
I want you to take a moment to really think about that for a few minutes.
Sit back and think about all the times over the last few days, weeks and months you’ve had your mind racing with thoughts of worry, despair, doom and gloom.
“I can’t go on like this”
“Why do I feel so bad, something must be wrong”
“I can’t cope with life anymore”
Thought after thought, worry after worry.
Each new thought leading to an even more worrying and depressing thought.
Over and over and over again.
Day in day out, from the moment you open your eyes until the time you’re lying in bed again that night.
Really, truly understand what you are putting your mind through and then ask yourself this.
Is there any wonder why I feel the way I do?
I really hope right about now you are having that ‘oh…..my…..god’ moment.
That realisation of ‘shit, that is all this is, my brain cannot cope with what my mind is doing to it”.
Imagine going running for as long and as frequently as all the thoughts have been running through your mind.
You’d be a complete mess, which is probably how you currently feel a lot of the time.
The effect is so strong that even when you are not worrying and thinking about things you still feel bad.
This is often why people think it has to be something else and will say things like…..
“I’m not feeling anxious now, but I still feel bad, there must be something wrong with me”.
Well guess what, your leg muscles are going to hurt and ache for days after you stop running too.
Why would you think your mind would be any different?
After all the months or even years of anxiety you’ve gone through, it makes sense that it’s going to take a while for your mind to feel well again too.
So how does this help?
Understanding and admitting that it is your thoughts and your thoughts alone which have caused this is a huge step in being able to recover from anxiety.
If you’ve read a number of my articles you will likely know by now that I don’t talk to you like a doctor or psychiatrist will do.
They will tell you things like ”don’t blame yourself, you didn’t do this, try not to be too hard on yourself’.
In a lot of circumstances they are right, but not with anxiety.
You have made yourself feel unwell because of the way you think.
But this shouldn’t make you feel bad, it should make you feel good.
Because it means you now know what is causing it and why you feel the way you do. Even better, you are the one who can stop it and you don’t need help from others or the taking of drugs and pills.
Always remember, at its core, anxiety is all about having thoughts and feelings of being unable to cope.
Well, the irony is this:
You can cope with a lot more in life than you think, but what you cannot cope with is all the worrying you do about not being able to cope.
In the end you’re left feeling anxious and ill and this is then what makes you worry further about your health.
What you really need is to just give your mind a rest.
Giving your mind a rest
The way to recover from anxiety and stop worrying about your health is to give your mind a rest in order to allow it to function correctly again.
When it is allowed to do this your anxiety reduces and so will your symptoms.
Naturally you stop worrying so much about it and you begin to feel better and better.
To explain why this is so important to do I’m going to use another analogy…..
When you get a cut on your body you know that other than cleaning it up and protecting it there is little you can do to make it heal.
Over the coming week or so it will slowly close over and repair itself. Eventually as long as it is not a deep cut, the wound disappears completely. Even if it forms a scar you soon forget about it and it doesn’t bother you.
Now imagine if the next time you got a cut you constantly played with it. Rubbing it and poking it, pulling the skin apart and making it bleed again.
You could go on doing this indefinitely and the wound would never heal. It would just weep and bleed and slowly get worse and worse.
Well this is exactly what you are doing to your mind.
By constantly trying to fight the anxiety and think your way out of it, all you are doing is getting involved in a process which does not need your direct intervention.
Just like the cut heals on its own, so will your mind.
If only you’d just let it!
Think of it as the itch you get from a scab as it heals, you want to scratch it but you know it is better that you don’t.
The problem is, it’s not easy to leave it alone, not when it is there bothering you every single day.
So how do you leave your mind alone?
You stop worrying about and reacting to your thoughts.
I’ve written a few posts on how to do this, so rather than going over them again I will just link the articles below. If you have not read these, I suggest you do so after you finish reading this.
- Stop caring about your anxiety by learning to let go of your thoughts
- How to spot and stop unrealistic and negative thinking, part 1 and part 2
- Reduce your worries and boost your energy by learning to accept the inevitable
- Learning to live Day by Day
I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to your recovery to allow your mind the time it needs to rest and function correctly again.
Anxiety is your brain’s way of telling you it is overworked and overstressed and it needs a break.
Unfortunately we do not interpret it this way, but rather take it that something is wrong which needs more mental work and stress to overcome it.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Your mind is making you feel ill because it wants you to stop doing what you are doing to it. Just like it makes the person who doesn’t stop running to be sick.
When you do begin to leave your thoughts alone, know that it will take time and won’t happen over night. Most people who notice significant improvements do so over many months.
Resist that temptation when you have a bad day to start trying to get involved again. It’s just your anxiety trying to make you believe something which is not true.
Your aim is to think like a non anxiety sufferer does. They still get worrisome and troubling thoughts, but the difference is they do not play them over and over again in their minds.
They are able to see them for what they are and just let them go, and not only that but they do it naturally without even thinking about it. This is what you have to learn to do.
The actual thoughts are not your problem. It is your reaction to them that is. This is what stresses out and tires the mind to exhaustion.
In turn this stops your brain and also your body from functioning properly and causes you to feel unwell and worried for your health.
Anxiety is a warning to stop overthinking, not overthink the anxiety and the way you feel even more.
Trying to get your head around this is not alway easy, but I recently read a book which contained a line I thought summed it up very well.
So let me leave you with that thought:
Trying to think your way out of your anxiety is like trying to do a 10,000 piece puzzle blindfolded. It can’t be done. Much better to leave the puzzle unsolved on the floor, get up, walk away and go do something else instead.
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