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6 Tips on How to Handle Your Nighttime Anxiety and Fears

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Do you have trouble sleeping at night because you have a lot of anxiety? Do you wake up in the middle of the night feeling anxious on a regular basis?

If so, you are not alone. Many people struggle with fear and anxiety in the middle of the night. It can be very lonely and depressing to be up all night, pacing around in the dark.

Dealing with nighttime anxieties can be very difficult because not only are you all worked up, you are also very tired, but are unable to sleep. This can cause a vicious cycle of worry and panic in the middle of the night.

Here are six tips you can use to manage your nighttime anxieties and get the rest that you need.

1. Find a comfortable place and focus on your breathing

First and foremost, you’ll want to find a comfortable seat in a relaxed and stress-free environment. I recommend sitting on a meditation cushion or chair with your feet on the ground. Allow your head and shoulders to rest comfortably; place your hands on the tops of your legs with upper arms at your side. Put your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Rest the palms of your hands on your legs, wherever it feels most natural.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath and relax. Keep your attention on the sensation of the inhale and exhale of your breath. Focus on the air moving through your nose or the rising and falling of your stomach and chest. Many people worry about whether they’re breathing the right way. I recommend breathing in whatever way feels comfortable to you. Just be mindful if you stop breathing.

2. Do not focus on your fearful thoughts

Sometimes, a person may encounter a lot of scary thoughts coming at them all at once. Instead of getting upset, remember that your negative thinking is exaggerated with worry. Ignore the fear behind these worrisome thoughts, regardless how the strong the fear may be. When encountering thoughts that make you fearful or depressed, challenge them by asking yourself questions that will maintain objectivity and common sense. At times, a person might encounter a fearful thought that may be difficult to manage. When this happens, visualize a red stop sign, which can serve as a reminder to stop thinking about that thought. Regardless of how scary the thought may be, do not dwell on it. This technique is great in dealing with your negative thinking and will help reduce your fears.

3. Turn on the lights

If you are having trouble getting to sleep because of your anxieties, try turning some of the lights on in your house or apartment. You could also go to your local store and buy some lights that can help calm you down in the middle of the night. It can be very depressing to try to get rid of your anxieties when everything around you is pitch black. Turning on the lights can help you to relax and calm down to the point that you will be able to get some rest.

4. Listen to some music or turn on the TV

If you are unable to calm down in the middle of the night, listen to some music or turn on the TV. Doing these things will help you to get your mind off of your current stresses and anxieties. Instead of laying in bed wide awake, turn on the radio or TV. You could also go on the computer and read the news or go to your favorite websites. This will help you to calm down and get your mind off of your stressful problems.

5. Learn from your experiences

If you have a few nights where you were successfully able to manage your nighttime anxieties, remember what you did so you can do it again. Be aware of what works for you when it comes to managing your nighttime anxieties. Write on a piece of paper what you actually did so you can do again the next time you have an anxious night. The key is to learn from your past experiences so you will be able to improve on your situation in the long term.

6. Get help from a counselor

Sometimes, it helps to be able to talk to someone about your stressful situations. Talking to a trusted friend, counselor or clergyman can give you additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current problem.  Most counselors and psychologists know of ways to manage of your fears. They can recommend treatments to improve your situation.

Overcoming fear and anxiety takes practice. In time, you will become better able to deal with your stressful problems during the day and night.

Getty image by Denis Novikov

Originally published: October 5, 2021
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