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Dealing With Anxiety

Updated on October 23, 2008
Can you take the plunge with your anxiety holding you back?
Can you take the plunge with your anxiety holding you back?

Anxiety. How do you control it when your life's strongest pressures seem to come at you full force? It's impossible to think rationally when your boss is screaming at you and your migraine is at its worst. You can't lie down or decompress. You're stuck listening and dealing with your stress without any time to breathe.

To me, anxiety resembles the size of a ball depending on your personal stress level for the day. Monday's could the size of a golf ball, while Friday's is the size of the boulder chasing after Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Controlling your anxiety is one thing but understanding it and accepting it is another.

Sadly, I've never really accepted my anxiety. I tend to cover it up in order to make myself feel better. I don't want to rock any boat at home or at work because I detest confrontations. I avoid saying what I really feel about someone to avoid starting a fight that could change everything. How do you resolve a conflict anxiety when you're afraid of it? I had a roommate in college that drove me nuts with her partying and gossiping about me behind her back while I was in the room. I had headphones on but I still heard everything. It hurt to hear everything she said, but I never told her I knew what she said. I just let it hang in the air until we graduated and I never heard from her again.

Avoid making the same mistake as me and deal with your anxiety directly. Pick a fight if you have to tell someone how you feel. Not literally a physical brawl. Just be truthful without hurting someone too much. Focus on your personal and professional anxieties and tackle the external conflicts at a later time. Here are five tips for you to understand and remedy your stress. Read through them to figure how 1 or more of the steps apply to you. It's important to take care of your anxiety before it compromises you in any way, so let's get started.

Make a list of everything that causes you the most stress. Think about why each item or activity drives you to distraction. The only way to deal with your anxiety is to face your problems head on through acknowledging them. Don't sweep your dislike of your new boss under the rug. Realize that they're human and deal with your feelings in a way that you avoid wanting to punch them in the face. Be rational with your list because there's no need to include your cable going out for two hours during your favorite shows. Focus on the stressful concerns you can control before obsessing over small stuff.

Once you got your list started, elaborate on each stress by writing down reasons why each item causes you stress. Take as long as you like to do so because it's better to have everything written down. Dealing with anxiety takes a lot of work, which means there's no time to waste. Relieving your anxiety is only effective if you tell the entire truth and unburden yourself of any internal pressure. Know what keeps you up at the night before taking the next step.

Talk to someone you trust to vent your frustrations to. It could be a friend, a family member or a counselor. Unburden yourself of any concern in order to function properly for the rest of your work week. It's better to have a clearer head than to worry about mounting bills and relationship problems. Don't make any rash decisions if you're distracted in any way. Take a minute to calm down before signing any legal documents or approve any business decisions under duress.

Be aware that you can't rely on your sounding board too heavily because there's only so much stuff they can handle. Your sounding board has a world outside of the one that includes you. Respect that in order for that person to respect you. Lend your support where they need because your relationship needs to be a two way street for it to survive. If not, say farewell to your personal sounding board.

Focus on your health. No amount of anxiety is worth getting sick over it. Don't sacrifice sleep because you're worried about your job review or an important test. Attempt to go bed only when you're tired. Relax your mind by doing something that puts you to sleep such as watching CNN. Let sleep come naturally to you by not forcing it. Pressuring yourself more sleep only makes it less likely to happen that night. No expectations or best laid plans. Relax and it'll come sooner rather tomorrow.

If your health is declining further due to your anxiety, see a doctor immediately to seek medical treatment for it. Make sure you tell the truth about your symptoms with your doctor because any lie or omission hinders you from a full recovery. You don't want that, so tell the truth.

Take some "me" time. The most important thing to do in dealing with anxiety is relax. If your stress gets to be too much, put what you're doing down and take a walk. Calm your nerves with a glass of water. Allow your blood pressure to go down and focus on getting heart to stop skipping too many beats. If you're at work, take your 15 minute break and leave your desk for a while to clear your mind. Forget about this year's budget report to talk with some of your colleagues in the cafeteria and share a laugh or two. It's good for the soul not to work yourself into the ground. Have fun every once in a while to keep things interesting.

Find a means of escape. Choose something you can do outside of your stressful environment to focus your energy on and forget about your work related problems. My personal preference is to watch cheesy television programs such as Rock of Love Charm School or The Hills. I like watching other people walk through their distorted version of reality and be thankful I don't have a camera following my every single move. I also like watching crime and procedural shows where I can focus my energy on solving a mystery and not how one of my bosses dislikes my work performance. I don't have to worry about that when I watch Cold Case Files or CSI.

Of course, not everything is so simple and not all problems are work related. Sometimes it's your home life that screams trouble. In that case, you need to find something to do outside of that environment that makes you feel good. Take up a hobby through playing basketball in the park or hanging out at a friend's house. It's nice to be in an environment where your stress doesn't follow you. Leave it behind to be dealt with later when you're in a better mind frame to do so.

In the end, anxiety is relative to the person afflicted by it. It's different for everyone and you need to learn how to make only a supporting figure in your life instead of the dominant one for your sake, as well as those in your life. You don't want to drive them batty with your problems because they have some of their own to battle. Don't be greedy, it's not becoming.

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