Are there tools I can practice to help with my anxiety and worrying?

I worry quite a lot about people I love being hurt. For instance when they are driving somewhere I have severe anxiety that they will be in a wreck and be hurt or even killed. I understand about intrusive thoughts and battle them by imagining myself sweeping them away with a large broom. But I worry about everyone in my family!!
Asked by Annie

There are several ways to deal with anxiety-provoking thoughts. One is to practice Grounding Techniques to distract yourself. Another one is to confront your worries by using Cognitive Behavioral Restructuring Techniques. 

The Grounding Techniques can include the 5-4-3-2-1 technique or engaging all of your 5 senses by answering the following questions:

What are 5 things you can see?

What are 4 things you can feel?

What are 3 things you can hear?

What are 2 things you can smell?

What is 1 thing you can taste?

Go slowly through the process of really describing the things you can see in detail, paying attention to what you can smell and hear. Be in the moment. By shifting your attention to the here and now, your anxiety will go down.

The second option is to analyze the Negative Automatic Thoughts that you have. Catastrophizing and Emotional Reasoning are symptoms of anxiety. You can lower your anxiety by learning how to restructure your negative irrational thoughts or cognitive distortions. It takes time to learn the techniques which is why being in therapy can be helpful.

Another way to deal with anxiety is to do breathing exercises. When we are anxious we don't breathe right. We may start panting. It prevents our bodies from receiving the amount of oxygen necessary for proper functioning. We may start feeling dizzy or experiencing a Panic Attack. It is important to remember to start taking deep breaths or diaphragm breathes. You can count to one, two, three to breathe in, hold, and count one, two, three to breathe out. Repeat it several times. Your anxiety will lower. 

You can challenge your irrational thoughts by using questioning techniques.

Are my thoughts based on facts or feelings?

How would my best friend see the situation?

How likely is it that my fear will come true?

What is most likely to happen?

It would be helpful to analyze in therapy the family of origin dynamics. In many cases, people have both genetic predispositions to anxiety and also learn from their parents if the world is perceived as a safe or a dangerous place. By observing their parents and how they react to different situations, children learn how to respond to them.

In severe anxiety cases using medication together with therapy can be the best way to lower the anxiety.