Anxiety is without a doubt one of the most common issues I get questions about on Dr. Allison, and it is also one of the primary reasons clients come to see me in private practice. Fear, doubt, and worry are a normal part of life, yet for many people, these emotions can cross a line and become overwhelming and in many cases, paralyzing. The “what ifs,” the worst-case scenarios, and the catastrophic predictions begin to rule our thoughts, convincing us they are real, accurate, and happening now. And while many of our anxious thoughts have some roots of truth, meaning they could happen, the likelihood of them happening is often much less than our anxiety wants us to believe.
I’ve written a post on the importance of infusing logic and rational thought when we are anxious, and if you haven’t read that post, I highly recommend it. (You can find it here.) This post is an extension of sorts of that post, providing you realistic and tangible statements to use in moments of increased fear and anxiety. These statements are short and simple, yet profound in terms of challenging the “what ifs” and worst-case fears. These statements strike a balance between recognizing the impact your anxiety can create, while gently challenging the catastrophic tone that your anxiety feeds on.
Here is an important point before you jump ahead. These statements won’t feel totally believable when you first say them. They might feel fluffy or unrealistic at first, and that is okay and totally expected. Remember, we are trying to infuse logic and rational thought when anxiety wants to run the show, so a little bit of “fake it till you make it” is needed. Just like a partner, friend, or child may not fully believe you when they are swimming in self-doubt, the idea is that if they hear affirming and encouraging messages enough, they will start to believe them. These coping statements work the same way.
Slowly read through each statement in the list below. Take time to focus on each word in the sentence, soaking up the message, and taking in the gentle challenge to your anxiety.
This is temporary.
My fears are not reality.
This anxiety isn’t comfortable or enjoyable, but I can tolerate it.
I’ve felt this way before, and I’ve made it through.
While this is difficult, I don’t have to let it consume me.
I can work to think differently.
I’m going to ride this out until my anxiety decreases.
This isn’t a crisis; it is okay for me to take time to think through this.
I can move forward even when I feel anxious.
This is difficult, yet I can cope with it.
My thoughts are not the truth.
I don’t have to figure it all out now; I can take a small step forward.
Now reread the list again, this time selecting three to five of your favorite coping statements, statements you think could be helpful in combating your anxiety. Everyone responds differently to these coping statements. What works for you may be different than what works for someone else.
After you have your go-to coping statements, write them down somewhere fairly accessible so that you can reference them in moments of fear and anxiety. Most people tend to have their phones on them frequently, so I encourage many clients to create a “note” in their phone with their personalized coping statements. Maybe you can write them in a section of your day planner or on a sticky note at your desk. I have also created a PDF at the bottom of this post for those of you that are interested in printing this list of coping statements for easy access. Underline, highlight, or circle your favorites. Stick a copy on the refrigerator or on the inside of the pantry door. Fold up a copy for your purse or glove compartment. Having these statements close by and easily available in moments of anxiety is key, as it will take some time for these coping statements to sink in and become a habit.
For those of you wondering if these statements really make a difference, yes they do. Are they difficult to believe at first? Yes. Do they take practice implementing in moments of fear? Yes. Do they require some energy and effort to use? Yes. With practice, they can totally make a difference. I know because I use them each and every day in my own life, making fear, doubt, and anxiety much more manageable.
So what’s your favorite coping statement on the list? What statements are you vowing to implement and practice this week? Leave me a note in the comments below; I’d love to hear!
I really like this article about anxiety and the steps to help I deal with anxiety from time to time and reading these statements has helped me put some things into perspective. Thank you. I enjoy all of your articles. Very good advice on many subjects.
So awesome to hear that, Cheryl! I’m glad this post resonated with you, and you are not alone! This is one of the most popular posts on my site, and I use many of these statements myself on a daily basis. Thanks so much for reading Dr. Allison, and many thanks for leaving a comment. I love engaging with readers on my site, as well as Facebook! Take care!
You are so awesome Dr. Allison! I needed to hear this tonight and you have such great knowledge and great practical ways of dealing with things.
Can’t wait to
Read more! You definitely found your calling!
Thank you SO much Lauren! This made my day! So glad you found these helpful. I literally use most of these statements EVERY DAY. And they absolutely help. Thanks for reading and commenting; have an awesome weekend!
I like these anxiety relievers. For me it helps to say you’ve worked through this feeling before. In my mind I reflect my last anxious
moments big and small, remembering how strong I was, I survived and came out better.
Yes; I love this! I think of this as a “data driven” approach, because you’re using real, actual examples from your life to comfort your fear and worry. Bravo!
You truly are a blessing, Dr. Allison. Of all the videos that are out there on YouTube, yours have resonated with me more, by far. I’m not sure why I haven’t found you before, but all that matters is that I found you. I can’t wait to go through all of your videos, and I know you’re going to be a big help to me as I try to deal with this “what if?” anxiety that I struggle with constantly.
What a wonderful and kind thing to say; I am SO glad and grateful that my videos has resonated with you! Anxiety is a major challenge, but I love knowing that there evidence-based ways to deal with it, meaning we have a say in what we do and how we handle anxiety. Thanks again for watching, reading, and commenting!