Tips for reducing the control that anxiety has on us

February 15, 2024

If you live with anxiety of any kind, I hope this is of help to you. Anxiety and panic attacks were a big problem for me for a long time and I was able to learn some strategies to help weaken their power and control over me. I hope what I share in this article gives you some ideas to squelch your anxiety.

The most important thing we need to understand is that anxiety feeds on worry. This of course is a pretty obvious conclusion that we can all make. But here’s the interesting thing. On those rare occasions when anxious people are not experiencing anxiety, it can feel strange. It can actually cause more anxiousness because it feels different and strange to not worry because anxious people are hypervigilant and used to feeling on edge. Many anxious people then look for problems or something to worry about to nourish their anxiety to feel comfortable. It’s a horribly painful cycle, and I know this because I have done it myself and I still do from time to time.

If you have anxiety, please think hard about this to see if this is your pattern. If so, you need to begin starving your anxiety. In other words, recognize that you are having an anxious thought and don’t feed it with another anxious thought or worry on top of it. Tell yourself, “This is nothing but a harmless anxious thought. This is normal. Everyone has them. I am safe. I don’t need to get more upset about feeling anxious.” Or say something similar. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but the more you practice the more you will feel in control. We need to train ourselves to allow peace of mind and calmness to be our reality.

For people who have obsessive compulsive disorder, you might be familiar with a term called Exposure Response Prevention (ERP). What this means is that you purposely expose yourself to what causes you anxiety and then not act on the anxiety. In OCD terms, a person has an obsessive thought and then they do an activity, a compulsion, to try and turn off the obsessive thought.

The purpose of Exposure Response Prevention is to expose yourself to what would cause a compulsion due to the anxious voice and then NOT act on it (for example, turning a light switch on and off a certain number of times because you think if you don’t someone you love will be harmed). It’s usually very uncomfortable at first to not try and appease the anxious thought, but it gets much easier with practice. I speak from personal experience regarding OCD, as it was once a very profound part of my life years ago that I have learned to work through effectively, but it is still an ongoing practice.

To put this in terms of all forms of anxiety, the key to switching out of it is to fully experience and accept all the uncomfortable feelings and allow time for them to pass. DO NOT RESIST. DO NOT RUN. Let them come. Let yourself feel all of it. Breathe and let your rational mind enter. Speak to your anxious thoughts with that rational mind, understanding that these are just harmless thoughts that have no meaning other than what we choose to give them.

This is SO MUCH easier said than done which is why letting go needs to be a daily practice with steadfast dedication. Changing our mindset involves small, repeated steps, also called “micro habits.” Each step builds on the one before it, and this takes time. Be okay with this. There is no rush. Remember that your mind has been doing what it has for a long time and it might take time to unlearn its habits. Be patient with yourself.

Remind yourself that this is just anxiety. It’s normal and it’s okay to feel this way. There is no need to be alarmed above and beyond what we already are. Replace your thoughts with new thoughts that are calming. Repeat them over and over to break the pattern of the broken record of fearful and anxious thoughts. Meditate, pray, breathe, go for a walk, talk to someone…do whatever you need to do to not feed the anxiety. Let it be what it is without adding more worried, anxious thoughts on top of it. Recognize it, sit with it without emotion, and let it go.

Lastly, don’t identify or label yourself an anxious person. You are just a person with normal anxious thoughts that come and go. Don’t think of it beyond that. Practice this, and what was mentioned above, every day and it will help reduce your anxiety. Below is a list of additional resources that might help and please see the resources section on my website by clicking here.

Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey by Tom Seaman
Beyond Pain and Suffering: Adapting to Adversity and Life Challenges by Tom Seaman
Hope and Help for your Nerves by Dr. Claire Weekes
Pass Through Panic by Dr. Claire Weekes
Reversing Chronic Pain by Maggie Phillips
Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Anxiety Disorders and Phobias: A Cognitive Perspective by Aaron Beck and Gary Emery


Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and the author of 2 books: Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey and Beyond Pain and Suffering: Adapting to Adversity and Life Challenges. He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, health blogger, volunteer for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader, and is a member and volunteer writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers NetworkThe MightyBrain & Life Magazine, and Patient Worthy. To learn more about Tom, get a copy of his books (also on Amazon), or schedule a free life coaching consult, visit Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram.


6 responses to “Tips for reducing the control that anxiety has on us”

  1. Sheila Sutton says:

    Hi Tom
    Myself and my daughter(age 36) have Generalized Dystonia. Both of us have had Deep Brain Stimulation in 2003. Unfortunately, we have deteriorated physically and mentally over the past two or three years.
    At the moment my daughter, she is terrified of falling over, so she is walking around the home
    on her knees!
    She has been using a mobility scooter for
    about three years, but it is heartbreaking
    to watch and her anxiety is through the
    roof! We both attend The National Hospital for Neurology in London about once or twice a
    year, but when I mentioned about Jennifer
    not being able to stand or walk around
    at all, she said ‘that’s a Shame!!!’
    We’re hoping for some kind of physiotherapy
    to help her to be able to regain the ability to
    walk about indoors.
    My husband and I are very concerned that
    one day she will not be able to get out of

    • Tom Seaman says:

      I am so sorry that you are both not doing well! It sounds like physiotherapy would be a very good option, but I am curious if your doctors have tried different settings? It would be wonderful if your daughter could regain the confidence to walk again, which is where I think physio would be very helpful.

  2. Brian Langwerowski says:

    Great stuff as usual, Tom! I really appreciate your intuitive and easy to follow articles/blogs. This one was particularly helpful. The resources are very good also. Thank you! I hope all is well with you.

  3. Vic Shumate says:

    Bulls eye! You hit me right between the eyes! I resemble this article! I am working on all the points you mentioned especially the breathing and disallowing the thought to take hold!!

    Thanks Tom! Great article and advice!


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