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Anxiety Hack: Capture

by Jason Collins

Enjoy this 4 part series:

Recent studies in the field of neuroscience by experts such as Dr. Caroline Leaf and Dr. Daniel Amen are finding just how much our inner thought life affects our brains and our bodies. What we think about has an effect on our bodies and our overall health. And negative, depressive, anxious thoughts are literally doing damage to our brains, which is doing damage to our bodies. In fact, brain scans comparing people who are addicted to drugs or pornography to those who are anxious or depressed show very similar patterns. In simple terms, when your brain constantly dwells on negative, anxious, depressive thoughts it’s affecting you in almost the same way as if you were taking hard drugs. 

We have to think better thoughts. But in order to think better thoughts and lift ourselves out of the patterns we’re in, it’s going to take practice. It’s the practice that leads you away from anxiety and leads you toward peace. And the good news is there are some methods or “hacks” that can help you gain more control over these thought patterns and even change the way your brain functions. Over the next few blog posts, I’d like to suggest a four step process to implement some of these “anxiety hacks.” I learned these from a book titled Finding Quiet by Dr. J.P. Moreland.

Anxiety Hack #1: Capture the Anxious Thought

And I know this might sound silly but I want you to imagine that your anxious thought is a real physical thing and then I want you to visualize yourself reaching out and grabbing it. See, we are not powerless to our thoughts. The thought was created by me in my brain and I get to decide what happens next. I can take control of that thought and tell it where to go and what to do if I’m aware of it and I can keep the presence of mind to do it.

For example… I’m lonely. No one wants to be with me. I’m unlovable. I’m no fun to be around. I’ll be alone this weekend and next month. I’ll probably die alone.

Or… I don’t feel good about that test I took. I probably failed it. It’s because I’m not smart. I don’t study enough. I’m a failure. I’ll never get into a good school. I won’t get the job I want. I’ll be miserable and broke my whole adult life.

Or… I feel a pain in my chest. I’m probably sick. I should be. I don’t exercise enough. I feel like a slob. I’m unhealthy and never take care of myself. I should go to the doctor but I’m afraid to hear what they might say.

A lot of anxious thoughts are just speculation about the future. I’m deciding what’s going to happen. I’m predicting the future. But the problem is none of us are very good at it. In fact, studies show that 85% of the stuff we worry about never actually happens!

So when the anxious thoughts get triggered, stop, visualize it, and imagine yourself grabbing hold of it before it goes any further. In the next post, we’ll talk about step two and what to do next…

Anxiety Hack #4

Anxiety Hack #3

Anxiety Hack #2

Anxiety Hack #1

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