How To Deal With Your Anxiety
Why can’t I stop feeling this way?
I ask myself this question regularly, and have yet to really figure it out- but that's okay. Anxiety can cause you to not only feel scared, but lost entirely. You find yourself questioning everything around you, doubting the promises people make and what their ulterior motives may be, or just feeling that something isn’t right. At the end of the day, you'll see that grasping the air in front of you too tightly will only leave your hands bloody and bruised. You'll find that the thing you so desperately tried to force into reality was not truly as bad as you thought, and that sometimes your only choice is to let go. The problem is that often times, we realize this after we’ve successfully screwed everything up. This leads to more anxiety, and we end up right where we started. My hopes are that this article, my own struggles and methods, may help you survive this funny little mental disorder that affects over 40 million adults in the US each year.
As bad as it seems?
Like a broken record, your brain is insisting that the universe is actively working against you. It’s not.
Identifying The Problem
The first (and most important) step to take is figuring out why you’re feeling this way. The issue is that sometimes, this is much easier said than done. Quite easily the most difficult task for those of us that have constant anxiety is answering the big question: What is causing this? Maybe you have a big test coming up, maybe you’re on your way to an interview, and maybe you’re just sitting at home minding your own business when all of a sudden -BOOM!- there’s the tightness in your chest you’ve come to know all too well. Most of the time, when we think we don’t know what’s causing our sudden burst of fear and disociation, there is something buried in our subconscious mind that we’ve yet to come to terms with. With the help of talk therapy, it should become easier for you to recognize and analyze these things on a deeper level. There is a significant difference between suffering a panic attack and having a panic disorder (though I’d like to note that left untreated, recurring panic attacks can lead to anxiety disorders). It’s important that you see a doctor and discuss what you’ve been feeling, and recieve a proper diagnosis to further your understanding of what is going on.
What can I do?
I am not a professional. I am simply one person living with a condition who wants to help others live with their own.
I can share with you some tips that have made my experience with anxiety significantly easier:
- Take a moment.
When you start to feel the pressure, stop whatever it is you’re doing. No matter what it is, no matter who you’re with, put down your phone, step outside, take a breath of fresh air, and just stop. The world will keep moving around you, your attention (or lack thereof) will not affect that. How we behave while we are experiencing severe anxiety is typically not who we truly are, and you could end up saying or doing something you’ll regret if you keep going. Sometimes you need a break, so take it.
Things absolutely SUCK right now. Most of the time, this is out of your control. If you are not in a place where you can simply stop and walk out (i.e. work, major surgery, etc.), I find that smiling when I’m feeling anxious and forcing my body to expel happiness when I may not necessarily be feeling that way allows my mind to move past whatever I’m upset about. The important thing is that you’re not simply smiling to conceal your nerves or anxiety, you should never feel as though you have to hide your struggles. This is for you, to help guide your head in the right direction. Smile and allow positivity to overwhelm you in place of fear.
- Don‘t ignore the problem, accept it
Sometimes the things we worry about are genuine. Sick loved ones, financial struggles, relationship drama. However, it is a well-known fact that worrying will not fix whatever is going on in your life. Once you’re faced with an issue, even a slight bump in the road, address it and accept that it is there and there is nothing you can do to change that. The best plan of action is doing what you can to make the most out of every situation, so take the time you would usually spend dwelling on every mundane detail of some overwhelming thing and use it to figure out the best direction to move in. We are capable of climbing mountains, and you can step over that bump.
- Find your comfort zone, but don’t live there.
It‘s important to recognize what comforts you in times of trouble, and equally as important to slowly but surely escape that bubble. The world can be a scary place, but something even more terrifying is spending your life fearing the unknown. Find the place and things that make you most comfortable, embrace them and surround yourself with them, but whatever you do- do not rely on them. The tangible things in life are inconsistent and disposable. Draw, write, sing, act, yell, it doesn’t matter what- do something that comes from you that cannot be taken away. No matter the vice, know yourself and know what will make you feel better if something goes awry. Once you’ve figured it out, take a small step outside of your zone of comfort. Take the smallest or biggest step you can, it doesn’t matter as long as you take it. Move forward and don’t be too disappointed if your anxiety pulls you back a little, this is normal and to be expected! Just keep working at it and eventually you’ll find yourself doing things you never thought you’d be able to do.
What if I fail?
You spend too much time thinking about the past and the future, and not enough in the present. Ground yourself and accept that you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow at precisely 2:37pm, and that is okay.
You are not your anxiety.
It’s easy to convince yourself that you can’t do something because your anxiety will get in the way. People constantly claim that anxiety isn’t an excuse for not doing things or shutting others out. Anxiety is not an excuse, it‘s a reason. You have a chemical imbalance making you too nervous to say or do anything, sometimes for reasons you don’t even understand. But you have to fight it, fight it every single day and never stop. It may seem like hope is lost but I’m here to tell you it isn’t. You can’t let the fear of tomorrow own your today. Life is bigger than all of us, and it’s going to happen no matter what. Roll with the punches and take them as they come, don’t hit yourself because you’re expecting a knockout blow in the final round. You are more than your anxiety, you are a masterpiece- an intricate being destined for your own greatness. All that matters is that right now, you are here and you are okay.