Along with panic, paranoia is one of the worst symptoms of excessive anxiety and worry. The classic nail-biting is just the start of the troubles.
Paranoia will, as they say, ‘destroy ya’.
There is nothing wrong with being aware, and sometimes extra cautious, but there is a price to pay for this over-awareness.
Anxiety-related paranoia makes you feel like everything and everyone is against you. You’re on edge and constant alert. You focus on the negatives, and whatever you do or try, you can’t get past the worst case scenario to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Eating and sleeping are secondary to the worry, and when it’s biting hard, paranoia will drain your energy and leave your tank empty. It takes away your ability to function, and overthinking makes you sick with worry.
A silent room can sound like it’s filled with a hundred different voices. You just want your mind to stop.
Paranoia isn’t reserved for just the highly anxious and excessive worrier. It can happen to anyone at any time. It frequently pops up its ugly head at times when we’re stressed or dealing with something that tests us. Recognising the pattern is the first step to dealing with the paranoia that comes with stress and anxiety.
Here are three powerful ways to stop anxiety-related paranoia from getting out of control.
1. Find your energy
What can you do without energy? Correct: absolutely nothing.
You can’t tackle paranoia without energy. All tips and advice beyond getting your energy up are pointless if you don’t have the energy to implement them, which is why it’s the #1 priority on the list.
Paranoia is draining. Upping your energy is the start of the turnaround process. By upping your energy alone, you’re making sure you’re in the best place you can be – mentally and physically. When you find your energy, the rest will follow.
It’s the draining that paranoia does to us that is the biggest issue. It makes us lose our appetite, so we don’t eat. We also stop sleeping, which makes us feel fifty times worse. The longer we stop eating and sleeping properly the more it fuels the fear cycle. Being stuck in the fear cycle is the cause of the constant, unshakeable paranoia.
PARANOIA > NOT EATING & SLEEPING > NO ENERGY > MORE PARANOIA
To stop the paranoia you have to break the cycle, and you can’t do that without energy. There is no other way to get energy than to eat and drink well.
Don’t stop eating and drinking. You’ll be dragged back into the fear cycle, and you’ll find it hard to break its grip.
Focus on achieving one thing at a time, and don’t worry or focus on what you’re not able to do.
The first focus is food.
Although you won’t feel like eating and drinking, you have to force yourself. Drink lots of water, and if you can, have a piece of fruit. If solid food is too much, drink a protein shake. This will provide the temporary energy you need to get you back on track.
Don’t worry about your sleep. Just concentrate on getting some food inside you. That will give you the energy you need to start dealing with the negative thoughts, which will eventually help you get your sleep right.
2. Let out your emotions and talk
Bottling things up and holding our emotions inside makes us feel worse. It only serves to increase our anxiety, worry and paranoia.
If it makes you feel better, go ahead and have a cry - men included. (For the extra macho, go and find somewhere on your own.)
If you’re lucky enough to have someone close to you to talk to, tell them what’s on your mind. Don’t feel like you have to go through it on your own – because you don’t. There is always someone who can help and support you.
If you have a concern about something, your friend will be able to give you an extra point of view. It’s likely you’ll be thinking irrationally (the ‘what if . . .’ type thoughts), and your friend can help you rationalise what’s going on in your head, which, in most circumstances, is rubbish.
If you’re going through a prolonged period of paranoia, go get some help.
There is always somebody who can help, and it doesn’t have to come from the people closest to you. If you want to keep things private, speak to your doctor who can point you in the right direction, or an experienced counsellor.
Remember: It’s OK not to be OK.
We all have a different tolerance level to stress. Stop pretending that everything is OK if it isn’t. It’s not a form of strength to hold everything inside, including your paranoid thoughts.
True strength is sharing what it is on your mind, even if it makes you feel like you’re weak, stupid, or it embarrasses you. It’s these superficial feelings that will keep you trapped.
Stop looking for perfection, stop pretending you’re fine, and stop beating yourself up. Start talking.
3. Get out and don’t stay still
Paranoia and ‘what if . . .’ related worrying thoughts will flourish when you continue to focus on the negative thoughts that fuel it. The most effective way of letting this happen is to stay planted in the same spot.
When we worry we tend to sit still in silence or pace up and down, back and forth in the same spot. One worrying thought continues to the next, and it’s all we focus on.
These negative thoughts, and the paranoia that comes with them, won’t stop until you decide to focus on something new – something you can control and take action on.
Staying planted in the same spot will make you feel trapped. Your home can quickly turn into a prison.
Feeling trapped is an illusion caused by the paranoia and worry.
Don’t stay trapped in the same environment.
You are free.
Embrace your freedom.
Allow your brain to focus on something else – even if that’s just a change of scenery. It will help you refocus, so you can move past the paranoia and worry.
Get out of the house and go do something – ANYTHING. Anything else but stay still. Get some fresh air. Go for a walk. Go for a drive. Feel the air on your face, take some deep breaths, and stay in that moment (the only thing that is real).
Paranoia, like most anxiety-related symptoms, is temporary.
With time and better focus, you will move past the paranoia. Your mental strength will rebuild, and you will rediscover the person you have always been. You’ll take the experience and use it to make you stronger.
ANXIETY REBALANCE COURSE
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