Life is always changing, and change can be difficult for many. Whenever something happens in our lives, whether it’s a job change or a family illness, our brains can accidentally jump to worst-case scenarios, or catastrophic thinking.
Catastrophic thinking is problematic because it triggers a worst-case scenario outcome, says Lauren English, a licensed professional counselor and business development representative with Pinnacle Pointe Behavioral Healthcare. This catastrophic thinking is unhelpful because it spikes the stress hormone cortisol and reduces our ability to react effectively. This thinking in turn makes it hard to complete daily tasks.
English recommends some steps you can take when your brain is catastrophic due to anxiety.
1. Recognizing that you are having catastrophic thoughts.
Take some time to notice your thought patterns, and identify why you are experiencing realistic anxiety, as well as unrealistic anxiety. Take a moment to ask yourself “am I making this a bigger deal than it really is?”
2. Identify what you can and can’t control.
English advises that we can’t control everything, but our brains sometimes beg to differ. By recognizing and identifying the things that we can control, we’ll become more grounded and accepting of the things that we can’t control. Additionally, this will help us to regain control of the things that we do have control over.
3. Taking steps to exercise control of the things in your power.
By emphasizing your control on the things in your life that are up to you, you can better ground yourself. Whether that is controlling your diet, your daily routine, your ability to relax, your sleep schedule, and the people you surround yourself with, you establish the groundwork to identify, counteract and minimize catastrophic thinking.
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