Anxiety – Generalised Anxiety Disorder
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD for short) is a common anxiety disorder where a person worries excessively in most situations. Their fear or anxiety is not limited to one specfic situation but is generalized to many different types of situations. GAD often involves a sense of dread and/or doom and “what if” thinking.
Often, people who have Generalised Anxiety Disorder possess positive beliefs around worrying. These, however are erroneous. They believe that worrying keeps them safe from harm and helps them to be prepared. Investigating this idea further usually demonstrates that there are no guarantees in life and that there will often be times when we worry in order to stay safe and events still occur that are beyond our control. “What if” thinking means that the present moment is ruined by feeling anxious over an occurrence in the future that may never happen.
Having GAD leads a person to imagine worst case scenarios and pretty much torture themselves mentally. They live a fearful life in their minds rather than engaging with reality around them.
Ways to deal with Generalised Anxiety Disorder:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a very good therapy to help counteract GAD.
Challenge your thinking
Where’s the evidence that what you are thinking is true? Always ask yourself is there is another way to look at something…is there another explanation?
2. Gain perspective
Are you likely to feel this way in a week from now? A year? What would you say about this if a friend asked you for advice and was in the same situation? Can you add some logic to the picture?
3. Know the difference between what you can and can’t control
A lot of our “what if” thinking is based upon hypothetical worries/events – in that they may never happen. A real worry would be fixing a dishwasher that has packed up. A hypothetical worry would be worrying that someone might not like you if you don’t act in a certain way. There is no obvious evidence for this so it is best to learn to dismiss this thought and not focus on it.
4. Focus externally rather than internally
GAD sufferers tend to be really caught up in their own heads. Focusing on others and the environment can ease worry by focusing less on our fears and insecurities. Consider what other people may be thinking or focus on their behaviour rather than your own.
5. Allocate ‘worry time”
If you absolutely must spend time worrying, try setting aside an hour a day to write worries down and then try to problem solve them and create an action plan. Worrying that goes over the same thing again and again is wasted energy and will not achieve anything.
I have a fridge magnet with this quote on it: “Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere”. So true!
If you cannot control your worries and they are seriously interfering with your life, it might be a good idea to seek professional help and go see your doctor who could recommend counselling/CBT and/or medication.