I Don’t Need to Plan for Threats That Don’t Exist

By Shahaa Kakar

I Don’t Need to Plan for Threats that Don’t Exist.
I Don’t Need to Plan for Threats that Don’t Exist.
I Don’t Need to Plan for Threats that Don’t Exist.

This is a mantra I have been repeating to myself today.

For people with anxiety, our minds are constantly playing out every possible disaster scenario and planning how to respond to them, should they occur:

“What if this happens? What if that happens? How will I cope then? How will I deal with that? What if something happens that I haven’t even thought of!”

Our minds go spinning off into all sorts of imagined apocalypses. Even though these threats are not real, this thought process is anxiety-inducing in itself and triggers a stress response in our bodies. Our nervous systems don’t know the difference between real and imagined. Our heart rate speeds up, the adrenaline starts pumping and we go into fight-or-flight mode (or maybe live there), ready to respond to the non-existent threat.

Have you ever noticed this when you watch a really scary TV show, for example? Your back might start tensing up, you may notice yourself holding your breath. It’s the same physiological response at work – and over time it has a toxic effect on our beings and our bodies. It’s not a nice way to live!

When you notice your mind running down these paths, pause, take a deep breath and remind yourself, you are safe in this moment and everything is okay. You don’t need to prepare for impending disaster. You are perfectly capable of responding to anything that actually happens.

In the meantime, come back to this moment. Physically turn your head and look around in all directions. This act of turning our heads signals to the brain to take in the current information. Perhaps you notice a beautiful painting in your room or a lovely tree outside your window. Take a moment to really notice it. Breathe it in and notice what it feels like in your body to be present with the beautiful painting or the lovely tree.

Then, if you want to take one step further, put your vivid imagination to good use and imagine the situation you were worried about now working out. See it fall into place in your mind’s eye and imagine how great you will feel when that happens. If you have a mind that needs to plan, plan how you will celebrate when this happens! 🙂

Repeat as needed. Everything is okay. You got this!