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  • Writer's pictureDezerrae Sanchez

"Quieting the Storm: How to Tame the Noise of Anxiety and Regain Control"

Happy Sunday! I hope the weekend has gone well, and the week is shaping up to feel the same or better. Continuing the conversation regarding negative thoughts, I wanted to speak further on what that noise in our heads with anxiety is like, and what else we can do to help ourselves.

The noise of anxiety in your head can be like a relentless cacophony of thoughts, worries, and fears, all clamoring for your attention. It's like a turbulent storm inside your mind, with lightning strikes of doubt and thunderclaps of apprehension. This mental turmoil often takes on different forms, depending on the individual, but it generally shares a few common traits.

Firstly, anxiety noise can be visualized as a swirling whirlwind of thoughts. These thoughts might range from concerns about the future to dwelling on past mistakes, creating a constant loop of negativity. This mental turbulence can be incredibly distracting and draining, making it challenging to focus on daily tasks.

In terms of daily tasks, anxiety noise can wreak havoc. It becomes the background noise that drowns out your ability to concentrate. Simple tasks can feel monumental as your mind races with self-doubt and what-ifs. Procrastination becomes a close companion, as the weight of anxiety makes it difficult to muster the motivation to tackle responsibilities.

Motivation often takes a hit when anxiety is in control. The inner turmoil can leave you feeling overwhelmed, sapping your enthusiasm for even the things you once enjoyed. It's like trying to light a fire in a storm; your motivation gets dampened by the downpour of anxious thoughts.

Progress, whether in your personal or professional life, can be significantly impeded by the noise of anxiety. It's challenging to move forward when your mind is preoccupied with worry and fear. This stagnation can lead to a sense of frustration and hopelessness, further fueling the anxiety noise.

So, what can you do about it?

We can try the ABCDE activity, which stands for:

A: Activate Event

B: Belief

C: Consequence

D: Dispute

E:New Effect

Here's how you can use this activity to identify and challenge automatic negative thoughts:

1. Activate Event: Start by identifying the event or situation that triggered the automatic negative thought. It could be a specific event, a comment from someone, or even a situation you find yourself in.

2. Belief: Write down the automatic negative thought that occurred in response to the event. Be as specific as possible about what you were thinking. For example, if the event was receiving constructive criticism at work, your belief might be, "I'm terrible at my job, and I'll never improve."

3. Consequence: Describe the emotional and behavioral consequences of this thought. How did it make you feel, and how did it impact your behavior? In our example, you might feel demoralized and anxious, and your behavior might involve avoiding challenging tasks at work.

4. Dispute: Challenge the automatic negative thought by asking yourself questions like:

- Is this thought based on facts or assumptions?

- What evidence do I have to support or contradict this thought?

- Am I using all-or-nothing thinking (seeing things in extremes)?

- What would a friend say about this thought?

In our example, you might realize that you've received positive feedback before and that one criticism doesn't define your entire job performance. You could also acknowledge that nobody is perfect and that improvement is a natural part of any job.

5. New Effect: After disputing the negative thought, record the new thought and its effect on your emotions and behavior. This is where you can reframe the thought into a more balanced and realistic perspective. For example, your new thought might be, "I have areas to improve, like anyone else, but I've also received positive feedback in the past. I can learn from this criticism and grow in my job."

Practicing the ABCDE method regularly can help you become more aware of automatic negative thoughts, challenge them, and replace them with more constructive and realistic beliefs. Over time, this can lead to a more positive and balanced mindset.

Remember, reducing the noise of anxiety is an ongoing process, and it may take time and effort. Be patient with yourself and seek support from friends, family, or professionals when needed. You have the power to turn down the volume on anxiety and regain control over your life.

Let's start with looking at an old event that caused distress. Can you identify the ABCDE of that situation?

Here is a video that gives a funny look at what that noise in our heads can look like.

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