Anxiety can feel like a never-ending, uphill battle. Sometimes it feels like you’ll never catch up to normal life again. The only way to face this roadblock is to rewire your anxious brain.
If you struggle with anxiety, you’re not alone! There are many ways to help you get your brain back to running smoothly again.
There’s also really good news! Your brain can rewire itself.
This doesn’t just happen once or twice either… this is a constant job that your brain has. Pretty amazing, huh?
What is Neuroplasticity?
Scientists used to believe that your brain was done changing after childhood. They claimed that once you’re done growing, your brain is pretty much locked in place.
It turns out that’s not true at all!
Your brain has the potential to grow, heal, and change over time. And YOU get to be in the driver’s seat.
Modern technology shows that your brain changes constantly based on how you use it.
Imagine that your thoughts work like going sledding. Once you go down the hill, you’ve already left an indent in the snow. That makes it far easier to stay on that same path next time.
When you constantly dwell on certain thoughts, your brain becomes more likely to produce more of those thoughts, chemicals, and reactions. This can be why anxiety feels impossible to overcome.
How to Rewire Your Brain
You can create positive pathways in your brain to replace negative ones. By practicing good thinking and relaxation techniques, you can get your brain back to its healthy state again.
Exposure therapy rewires your brain after a long bout with anxiety. Although it sounds counterintuitive, it’s very effective if done correctly.
Exposure therapy is when you expose yourself little by little to the thing that’s causing you anxiety until you feel better about it. If there’s a specific situation or place that causes you anxiety, you’ll be able to face it more effectively.
For example, if you are scared of flying, start with driving to the airport and parking. Control your breathing and remind yourself that you’re safe until you feel better. Next time go inside the airport. Take it step by step, and soon you’ll be ready to fly again!
Every time that you feel an anxious thought, ask yourself, “Is this thought based on something that actually happened, or just how I feel?” Try to find if there is a reasonable explanation for the anxiety you are feeling.
If you can’t find an explanation, gently remind yourself that there is no need to be anxious. You are safe. Practice some relaxing breathing exercises and move on.
After doing this a few times, your brain will follow this pathway instead.
Change your script
A big part of why you feel anxiety may be because of what you tell yourself. Your brain is warning you that there’s danger, so it’s up to you to convince yourself that you’re safe.
You can create new neural pathways so your brain doesn’t run straight to anxiety anymore. Stop the anxious thought as soon as you can and replace it with a helpful one. It may take a while, but this habit will catch on.
The pathways in your brain are malleable. You can change how your mind works! It may require patience, but you can rewire your anxious brain one thought at a time.