Have you ever remembered an embarrassing moment and ended up thinking that everybody hates you? Or perhaps you worry about being unprepared for an exam, and you suddenly find yourself fearing you’ll be kicked out of school. When one negative thought leads to a series of worse ones, then you might be spiraling out of control.
Spiraling happens when the mind feels out of control and keeps feeding on negative thoughts and emotions. The anxiety spiral, also known as “catastrophic thinking” or “magnifying,” occurs alongside anxiety and depression. It’s normal to have anxious moments, but spiraling leads us to think of the worst possible scenario.
Spiraling is also associated with rumination or repetitively dwelling on negative thoughts. This is especially common among people with anxiety disorders. However, this also happens to people who have certain personality traits, such as perfectionism and neuroticism. According to the American Psychological Association, people ruminate because:
- They believe that by doing this, they’ll gain insight into their life or problems;
- They have a history of emotional or physical trauma; or
- They’re facing ongoing uncontrollable stressors.
With overwhelming anxiety and spiraling, people can reach a mental breaking point where the situation becomes more critical. This can manifest as panic attacks—where the body’s fight-or-flight response is—gets triggered, and physical symptoms become more intense.
An individual can also dissociate in an attempt to cope with overwhelming anxiety. That’s why anxiety is a common symptom or comorbidity among people with dissociative disorders.
Dissociation involves feeling disconnected from the body (depersonalization) or the world (derealization). Although it could provide a convenient escape from overwhelming emotions, dissociation can only work short-term and has negative long-term ramifications.
So what are the healthy ways of coping with anxiety and spiraling? In this article, you will learn about different techniques and other frequently asked questions about anxiety. So if you want to put your spiraling to an end, then keep on reading!
How do you calm anxiety instantly?
Here are some immediate steps you can take when anxiety starts to take over:
- Focus on the present moment instead of worrying about what’s going to happen.
- Fact-check your thoughts.
- Breathe deeply and focus on evenly inhaling and exhaling.
- Do something to interrupt your anxious train of thought.
- Talk to someone or write down your thoughts.
How do you control hyper anxiety?
It’s easy to get carried away when feeling overwhelmed with anxiety. Here are some ways to control hyper anxiety:
- Take a time-out by doing relaxing activities, such as yoga, meditation, or getting a massage.
- Count to 10 slowly and repeat.
- Take deep breaths.
- Talk to a friend or a healthcare professional.
What is the 3-3-3 rule for anxiety?
The 3-3-3 rule is a grounding technique that helps you cope when you’re experiencing immense anxiety. To reduce your anxiety quickly, all you have to do is, firstly, identify three things that you can see. Then, identify the three sounds you hear. Finally, move or lift three parts of your body.
How do you break the cycle of anxiety?
To break the cycle of anxiety, you must first become aware of it. This involves:
- Identifying core beliefs and challenging negative thoughts.
- Learning how to tolerate uncomfortable feelings and emotions.
- Identifying behavioral tendencies and acting differently.
How can I kill anxiety naturally?
Aside from prescription medications, you can treat anxiety using natural methods. Here are some ways on how you can kill anxiety naturally:
- Exercise regularly.
- Don’t smoke and drink alcohol.
- Eat a healthy diet and try drinking tea.
- Get enough good-quality sleep.
- Meditate or do breathing exercises.
Can I get rid of anxiety forever?
Anxiety is a natural human response and a product of evolution. It means that it’s impossible to get rid of anxiety forever, and we should be thankful. Our anxiety response is crucial for our survival. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by anxiety or if you’re diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, know that there are still ways to manage it.
Why do people get anxious?
There are many different causes of anxiety disorders in people. It can be due to biological factors (e.g., genetics, personality) and social factors (e.g., trauma, stress buildup). In some cases, anxiety links to other health issues, such as heart disease, drug misuse, or respiratory disorders.
How long can anxiety last?
Episodes of anxiety attacks typically peak within 10 to 30 minutes. However, its effects may last hours or even days and weeks. People may also experience chronic anxiety that lasts months or years
How do I cope with anxiety?
Here are five easy ways to cope with anxiety:
- Question your negative thought patterns.
- Focus on deep breathing.
- Try aromatherapy using oil, incense, or candles.
- Go for a walk or do light exercise.
- Write down your thoughts.
No matter how real your thoughts might feel, remember that they are just thoughts and controllable. Changing the narrative in your mind can help ease your worry and anxiety. A resiliency specialist shares some strategies on how to get out of an anxiety spiral:
- Move Your Body.
Exercising can lower anxiety at the moment and has a long-term positive impact on mood.
- Distract Yourself With Music
Create a calm playlist as focusing on calming music can lower anxiety and improve your mood.
- Breathe From Your Belly Instead Of Your Chest
When we’re anxious, we tend to breathe shallowly, making our heart pump faster. You’ll feel more relaxed once you breathe deeply.
- Be Kind To Yourself
Being self-compassionate can help you recognize that you are not your thoughts.
- Remind Yourself That This Is Temporary
Instead of fighting your feelings, let yourself feel everything without judgment and remind yourself that these won’t last forever.
Learning from your experience is essential. Once you’ve gotten out of the anxiety spiral, take note of your learnings and insights to prevent future occurrences. You can do this by keeping track of your triggers, identifying your coping mechanisms, and seeking professional help.
Other ways to prevent catastrophic thinking include:
- Mindfully observing your thoughts without judging their validity
- Finding your spiral’s source to address your anxiety at its roots
- Using logic and learning the facts to disprove your negative thoughts
- Challenging your anxious thinking by asking, “Is this threat real right now?”
The next time you feel like you’re spiraling out of control, know that you can still do something about it. Hopefully, you’ll feel more equipped to handle anxiety spirals after reading this article.
If you find these strategies ineffective in easing your anxiety, consider reaching out to a mental health professional for assistance. Anxiety is a real problem, and you don’t have to be afraid or ashamed to seek help.