5 Easy Steps to Treat Generalized Anxiety (and Worry Less)

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Are you sick and tired of struggling with Generalized Anxiety? If so, you’re at the right place!

In this article, I’ll explain how you can cure Generalized Anxiety and give you 5 practical tips to do so!

if you’re ready to ease your Generalized Anxiety, this article is made for you.

Let’s dive right in!

generalised anxiety

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

There is one big trigger that creates anxiety for people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Curious what that is?

It’s uncertainty. People with generalized anxiety have a low tolerance for uncertainty.

People with generalized anxiety get anxious whenever there is uncertainty in a situation or if they are not 100% sure about something. 

People who have generalized anxiety find it extremely hard to tolerate uncertainty in their life. But the fact is: most of life is uncertain, which makes struggling with generalized anxiety very exhausting.

When you have GAD, you don’t “just” worry about big life decisions, like moving to a new place or deciding to take kids, you also worry about the small, everyday things or things that are extremely unlikely to happen.

“What should I wear today? What if my friend doesn’t show up today? What if my boss secretly doesn’t like me? What should I bring for lunch today? What if I get sick 10 years from now?”

When you have GAD, you find it hard to tolerate uncertainty. And to eliminate as much uncertainty as possible you might be doing the following… let’s take a look!

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Because people with GAD find it hard to tolerate uncertainty, they have a lot of behaviours in place that give them a falsely perceived sense of control.

According to WebMB, other symptoms of GAD include:

  • Exsessive Worry (Thinking about what makes you uncertain repetitively, in the hope to eliminate all uncertainty about the situation)
  • Making excessive to-do lists (Planning out your days too exessively, sometimes on the minute, because it gives them a sense of control)
  • Avoiding uncertainty (For example: not planning vacations because you’ll be faced with lot’s of uncertainty… so why not avoid it altogether? This is essentially staying in your comfort zone)

Other Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder include:

  • Finding it hard to control your worries
  • Feeling on edge and restless
  • Feeling irritable
  • Having trouble falling asleep

Because GAD is most of the time a low-level anxiety problem, you often don’t have extreme waves of anxiety, but feel on edge most of the time.

Can Generalized Anxiety Disorder be Cured?

You are probably wondering: can generalized anxiety be cured? Or am I stuck with this form of low-level anxiety for the rest of my life?

Don’t worry (sorry for the pun!)… generalized anxiety can be cured… not by figuring out your anxiety and wishing it goes away, but by learning how to tolerate uncertainty in your life. 

Because your GAD is triggered by uncertainty, the more you practice tolerating uncertainty, the less you’ll worry and the less anxiety you’ll experience. Even though this takes practice and time, it is the most effective way to ease your generalized anxiety disorder. 

Learning how to tolerate uncertainty can create more anxiety in the short term, but it will help you reclaim back your freedom in the long run. It is a form of exposure therapy, which is the most effective way to overcome your anxiety disorders.

If you want to learn how to respond to anxious feelings the right way, then download my Limited Time FREE PDF here.

generalised anxiety

Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

In this article, I’ve explained which 5 steps you can take to ease your generalized anxiety. I’ll give a brief summary of the steps down below:

Step 1: Learn more about generalized anxiety

Don’t wait in the hope your anxiety goes away: learn more about it! Trying to ignore anxiety is not how you overcome it. You do overcome it when you learn more about what anxiety is, what it tries to do and when you learn new ways of coping. Learning more about it doesn’t mean your anxiety will get worse. What it means is learning the innocence of it and understanding what to do when anxiety hits … and definitely what NOT to do.

Step 2: Become aware of your worries

If you struggle with GAD, you are someone who worries excessively. And it is the worry that makes you anxious, because your mind interprets worry as danger. To successfully manage your worry, you first have to become aware of it.

One of the best ways to do this is by writing your worries down in a worry diary for 15-20 minutes a day. Your worries always start with a “what-if” which makes them easy to recognize. Write down your worries at a set time during the day (preferably in the morning or during lunch). Whenever you begin to worry, tell yourself that you’ll worry about it during your next worry minutes.

Step 3: Rethink the usefulness of worry

Most people with GAD believe that worry is useful. You probably believe it helps you with eliminating the uncertainty you’re dealing with. But as long as you believe that it is something productive, you won’t stop worrying. People with GAD believe that when they worry, they are solving the problem they are dealing with.

But that is simply not true. When you worry, you are going over a problem in your head so many times that you get exhausted. Worrying is a passive activity, while problem-solving is active. It means identifying your problem and coming up with a plan to eventually work towards a solution.

When was the last time you overcame a problem because of worry?

Yup… that’s the unusefulness of worry.

Step 4: Practice acceptance

When you made the decision to tolerate more uncertainty in your life, you’ll start to feel a little bit more anxious.

Why? Because you are doing the opposite of what you were used to do: overly planning and worrying excessively.

Now you’ve made the decision to worry less and plan less and that can cause your anxiety to increase a little bit. 

This doesn’t mean that your anxiety condition got worse, or that you’re doing things wrong. It means you are stepping out of your comfort zone. The more you do this, the bigger that comfort zone will be.

When you are doing things that cause more uncertainty, you are expanding your comfort zone. Because you are in a phase of expansion, you’ll feel more anxious. Understand that this is completely normal. Try to accept these anxious feelings… or if possible: even welcome them! This eliminates your resistance to anxiety, which results in becoming way more resilient.

And when you become more resilient, anxiety has less of a grip on you.

Step 5: Rebalance your nervous system

The more you worry, the more stress your body has to deal with and the more sensitive it will become to stress. This is a vicious cycle that you have to brake. 

By engaging your parasympathetic nervous system more (rest and digest system) you can help rebalance your nervous system, by making it less prone to stress. 

You can start practising yoga, start exercising, try meditation or find other activities that make you feel more relaxed.

These activities reduce your body’s sensitivity to stress, which results in less worry, less stress and eventually less anxiety.

That way you break the vicious cycle of anxiety.

worry diary

Bonus Tip: Welcome your anxious feelings

All humans have something in common. They all try to move away from pain and towards pleasure. 

Unfortunately, we also do this with our feelings. We try to avoid negative feelings, because we believe that when we avoid them, we successfully avoid pain.

But all feelings have to be dealt with at some moment in your life. When you walk away from your feelings, the pile of unprocessed emotions gets bigger and bigger, until it becomes too much for your body and your body starts telling you it has enough of it.

This could result in an emotional breakdown or anxiety.

Feelings can go within or without… and you always want to let them out. Whenever you feel excessively anxious or sad, frustrated or angry: feel your feelings.

Embrace them with open hands and understand that the more you welcome them, the faster they go away.

Resisting your feelings makes the process of metabolizing your emotions a lot more painful and time-consuming. But when you welcome your feelings and feel them, you’ll notice they go away much faster. 

It’s like walking in a cold lake.

Are you someone who takes the plunge and feels the cold for 10 seconds? Or are you the person who goes in slowly and feels the cold water for 15 minutes?

generalised anxiety

Takeaway

I hope you now understand that Generalized Anxiety can be cured. When you struggle with generalized anxiety, you are someone who is a chronic worrier that finds it hard to tolerate uncertainty.

By increasing your tolerance for uncertainty, you’re on your way to worrying less during your days. This means that you have to practise being uncomfortable with uncertainty. And after some practice, you can expect the intensity of your worry to decrease.

If you want to learn more about freeing yourself from anxiety, then watch my FREE Limited-Time Training where I teach you the 3 biggest mistakes anxious people make and what to do instead.

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Author: Wouter Manders

Wouter is a mindset coach from The Netherlands. For many years he suffered from depression and anxiety. It gave him the motivation to coach people on overcoming their anxiety, out of first hand experience. With more than 6000 blog visitors a month he helps many people on their road to having less anxiety.

About Wouter

Wouter is a mindset coach from The Netherlands. For many years he suffered from depression and anxiety. It gave him the motivation to coach people on freeing themselves from anxiety. With more than 6000 blog visitors a month he helps many people on their journey towards less anxiety.

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