3 Ways 'Game Of Thrones' Teaches You How To Control Anxiety In Every Day Life

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How To Deal With Anxiety Disorders & Symptoms By Watching Game Of Thrones

Disclaimer: If you haven’t started watching season eight of Game of Thrones and don’t want to read any spoilers, this is your chance to stop reading.

Want to know how to deal with anxiety disorders and symptoms? It turns out that you can learn a lot about coping with anxiety from the show Game of Thrones.

RELATED: 5 Brutal Truths You Need To Know Before Loving Someone With Anxiety

Game of Thrones' season 8 has been one long anxiety-inducing season that can stress out even people without anxiety disorders; so imagine what waiting for the Night King to appear is doing to people with high anxiety!

If you live with the symptoms/signs of anxiety in your life, you likely know very well how even sitting down to watch something for entertainment can make your heart leap into your throat. And Game of Thrones has been exceptional at making its viewers wonder what comes next, or who might get killed off.

I watched Game of Throne’s “The Long Night” episode with my heart in my throat. I was anxious and concerned, and the combination of trying to see what was happening in the dark and the ominous music wasn’t helping, either.

It occurred to me after some time (but before the army of the dead arrived) that I was inviting the feelings of anticipatory anxiety and sadness about watching some of my favorite characters die, and I didn't know how to deal with the anxiety once it had arrived.

I turned to my fellow Game of Thrones fan and said, “I just have to accept that not everyone is going to survive.”

So what causes anxiety, and how can you stop it once it shows up?

In this instance, I wanted to control what was happening. I told myself (and hoped with all of my heart) that everyone would survive the long night. I wanted it to turn out positive. I wanted things to go my way.

These are just a few ways anxiety can sound like: Worrying about things that haven’t happened yet, trying to control the situation, jumping to the worst conclusions, and making the situation harder for yourself in your head.

But the episode’s outcome was not up to me. That is not how television — or the world — works.

Just like it’s hard to be a person in Westeros, it’s hard to be a human being on planet Earth.

It’s such a divisive and challenging time for us politically and culturally And it’s easy to try to control things at home, at work, within your minds and bodies when it doesn’t feel like much else in the world is in your control.

When these attempts to control your surroundings and circumstances fall short or fail completely, then suffering is sure to follow. One could easily fall down the rabbit hole of fear, anxiety, guilt, and shame.

So, what is a person — and GOT fan to do? How can you make it easier to watch an episode and even to survive the next presidential election?

1. Challenge what your inner critic (or inner "Joffrey") is saying

My inner Joffrey said, “You can't control what’s happening on the screen,” and, “Every single character is going to die halfway through the season.”

Instead of approaching a situation with pessimism, fear, negativity, and anxiety, there’s less suffering when you come from a place of logic, wisdom, love, and kindness.

On my couch, my fellow GOT fan challenged my inner critic by saying, “There's still more of the season after this.”

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2. Accept what is and isn’t in your control

It’s important to find that balance between being proactive (focusing on and doing what is in your sphere of control) and accepting the situation as is without trying to change it) and allowing things outside of your sphere of control to "be."

“It’s a TV show," I told myself. "There are going to be highs and lows throughout the entire episode. I can enjoy this.”

You can go into experimenter mode (“What happens if I do this?”) or you can search for the joy, fun, or humor instead of the fear.

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In fact, by doing this I found there were several times I laughed out loud during the episode!

(I love you, Tormund Giantsbane.)

3. Show yourself compassion

There’s much involved when it comes to GOT. We had to wait over a year for season eight to begin, and there are only six episodes in the last season.

Main characters are not above being killed off in the first season, as Ned Stark proved. So know that this isn’t a 30-minute comedy or a romantic comedy movie.

Allow yourself to be upset (I truly cried when Rickon and Hodor died). Allow yourself to be anxious, mad, fill-in-the-blank emotion.

Life isn’t always fair, and it’s certainly not always fair in Westeros. Focus on what goes well instead!

Battling anxiety is not a case of sticking your head in the sand and saying, “Everything’s going to be OK.” Instead, remind yourself that you're going to be OK no matter what happens.

So, use one, two, or all three of these weapons to battle anxiety. You can’t control others. You can’t control the world. You can’t even control your knee-jerk thoughts or feelings.

What you can control is what happens in your mind and body after the knee-jerk thought or feeling. It is totally do-able to withstand the ups and downs of the rest of the season and through the next presidential election and any other aspect of life that brings you stress or anxiety.

RELATED: Why Trying To Overcome Your Anxiety Only Makes It Worse

Dr. Joann Toporowski is a psychologist and anxiety coach who helps driven, successful, high-achieving executives and corporate employees to be confident in the boardroom and relaxed in the bedroom. Learn more about her services by visiting her website.