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Quiet the thoughts causing your anxiety
Anxiety can ruin your life — and your health. And if you’ve ever experienced it, as many American’s have, you can feel powerless at controlling it and the negative thoughts that race through your head. How can you stop it?
Start with quieting the negative thoughts. The way to do that, say scientists at Binghamton University in Binghamton New York, is to go to bed earlier and sleep later.
Their study shows that people who curtail their sleep and don’t go to bed until very late, encounter overpowering negative thoughts more often than those who get to bed at a reasonable time and get more shut-eye.
It’s called repetitive negative thinking, and it’s defined as being obsessed with pessimistic thoughts that rerun themselves constantly through your head and leave you feeling out-of-control of your negative thought processes. That tendency leads to increased worrying about future events and persistent regrets about past actions.
These repetitive thoughts are characteristic of conditions like generalized anxiety disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
All of those conditions are linked to sleep problems.
When the Binghamton researchers surveyed 100 people about their sleep patterns and relationship with anxiety, they found that those who slept for shorter periods and went to bed later were more prone to repetitive negative thoughts.
“Making sure that sleep is obtained during the right time of day may be an inexpensive and easily disenable intervention for individuals who are bothered by intrusive thoughts,” says researcher Jacob Nota.
The researchers believe that disruptions of sleep by negative thoughts may be tied to a tendency for repetitive negative thinking. It’s a vicious cycle. And if sleep is the answer, what can you do to break the cycle?
Quieting those thoughts so that you can sleep is not so easy — unless you tire yourself out so much that your mind can’t fight your body’s need for sleep. Exercise is the easiest, most natural way to do that.
Additionally, exercise on its own is a great stress reducer. I’m not suggesting you jump into a strenuous routine if you’re not accustomed to much physical activity. Simply walking daily can work wonders for your body and mind.
Researchers at the University of East Anglia in England reviewed 42 studies that took a look at 1,843 people who walked daily and found that they had a reduction in depression scores, waist circumference, fasting glucose — and a better mental outlook.
It’s definitely worth a try. Walking after dinner may be just what you need to begin winding down for a good night’s sleep, free from the stress of the day.