How to Keep Your Mind from Spiraling Out of Control

Have you ever been so worried about someone you love or something bad happening that is so consuming it leaves you feeling  paralyzed and unable to think about anything else?

Has it caused you so much anxiety you have been unable to show up in life in a way that is useful or productive?

If so, you are not alone.

In fact, when it happened to me last year, I discovered a visualization tool which helped me to stop that anxiety spiral and return to a more peaceful state of mind.

Death of Dog, Father, and Best Friend

2021 was one of the most difficult years I have lived since the year my son died in 1999.

The year started off with the death of my beloved dog Ollie, followed by the lengthy illness and eventual death of my incredible father and later in the year my best friend from high school and college roommate died suddenly.

What I’ve discovered is that grief and anxiety can go hand in hand.

After my dog died, I experienced deep and profound grief and sadness and fully entered into the process, letting myself feel what I needed to feel, so I could eventually heal.

Just as I was coming through that chapter, my dad entered the hospital and it was a six week roller coaster ride of anxiety and the fear that he could actually die. 

When you come face to face with the possibility and then inevitability that someone you dearly love is going to die, the worry, stress, fear and other emotions you feel can be overwhelming as you begin to realize you have no control over the situation or the outcome.

What you are actually experiencing has a name.

It’s called anticipatory grief.

Anticipatory Grief

Anticipatory grief is the grief you are feeling when your loved one is still living. The stress you are experiencing in addition to the fear and uncertainty of what is happening and what is about to happen.

And once your loved one dies, you now are fully immersed in your grief.

Can the death of a loved one cause anxiety?

Absolutely, and it’s not just their death and your grief, it’s all the other stuff that goes along with it like the mess that was left behind following my fathers death.

Not only did I have to deal with my grief, but the family needed to show up to support my mother through her grief journey and help her downsize. We needed to clear out the family home, hold estate sales,  sell her home, purchase a new one, and move her. In this process which lasted months I found my grief and my anxiety almost unbearable at times. 

When I found myself in this state last year, I remembered something a business coach taught me and that is, when you find yourself in a state of deep negative emotions and low vibration, your ONLY job at that moment is to try and find something to raise your vibration.

Decisions are harder to make in that lower state and taking action is next to impossible unless you find a way to lift yourself up and out.

So how can you lift yourself out of your negative state and keep your anxiety from spiraling out of control?

Here is a trick I used and it truly worked for me. Maybe the next time you are feeling your anxiety spiraling, it can help you too.

Every time I felt myself in that lower state that was filled with fear. And the anxiety was not allowing my brain to think of anything positive, I closed my eyes and imagined my mind’s eye as a camera lens and I took a close up shot of my current worry, or fear, or situation, and would slowly zoom out until my mind could see a bigger picture.

As I focused up close on my dad lying sick in his hospital bed I was filled with the fear of him dying and having no control over the situation. Then I would begin to slowly zoom out and start to see the people surrounding him and caring for him

As I continued to zoom out I would see the hospital staff lovingly care for hundreds of other patients in the hospital. Zooming out further, I would visualize the leaves popping out on the trees, the flowers beginning to bloom and the blue spring sky. The further I zoomed out, I saw people praying for him and taking care of things at home for us, so we could be by his side.

The more I zoomed out to see the bigger picture the better I was able to connect to the beauty and healing that was present in my life and that still exists in this world, and instantly I would begin to feel calmer and more peaceful.

When I zoom in and am looking closer at the situation, I realize the less control I have. That’s when I begin to feel  anxious and fearful.

This is when I can’t see anything clearly because I’m so focused on the problem,  all the what-ifs and worst-case scenarios.

But as I zoom out I can see a bigger picture of what is going on around me and in my life and around the lives of the people that I love, and all of a sudden I can see a broader view, and a bigger plan. 

Feel Calm and Overcome Grief Anxiety

Practicing this not only allowed me to feel calmer and more peaceful, it also allowed me to connect to gratitude. And when I started allowing the gratitude to flood in I began to feel emotionally stronger as I would visualize the support and peace I needed to help me get through this chapter of life.

This is what worked for me and the effects were almost immediate.

So much so, that people noticed a marked difference in me and my mood in less than 24 hours. 

This is why I wanted to share it with you.

So the next time you find your fear and anxiety trying to spiral out of control, remember, you have a new tool in your grief toolbox to use to help you get it under control. Zoom in, and then start zooming out.

Try it and see if it helps you shift your mood and perspective, then reach back out to me to let me know how it worked for you.

More Grief Tools and Support Tactics

For more tools to put in your graduating grief toolbox, check out the following episodes of the Graduating Grief Podcast:

Using Mindfulness to Bring you Relief

Listen on Apple Podcasts

How to Handle Painful Triggers

Listen on Apple Podcasts

How to Stop Negative Thought Patterns

Listen on Apple Podcasts

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