We currently live in a world that moves faster than most of us can wrap our heads around. The last 50 years have shown rapid innovation and changes in the way we live, but what impact has this had on our mental peace? Anxiety is estimated to impact 40 million Americans and nearly 300 million people worldwide. Growing up, many of us never learned about mental illness or anxiety, as these were seen as taboo. Even ten years ago, mental health was in a much different space than it is now. As I went through my battle of anxiety, I had to learn my tricks to quiet my anxiety as there was little information available. Today, I would like to share those with you to offer some lift in your journey with anxiety.
Feed the part of you that you want to grow. When you focus on your anxiety, it becomes bigger and bigger until it consumes you. You begin to feel like your anxiety is larger than anything else in the world and is impenetrable. The key is to put your attention and focus on anything but yourself. Go for a walk and notice each leaf on a tree, the weather, people, birds, or anything that intrigues you. If walking isn’t for you, then cook, shop, paint, dance, or whatever it is that demands your focus. The more time you give your attention to things outside of yourself, the less time you give to your thoughts of anxiety.
Anxiety can be extremely challenging. You may go from being perfectly fine one minute to then being overcome with anxiety the next. Do not judge yourself for dealing with this mental illness. You did not ask to have it, and it is not by choice. The more frustrated you become with yourself for having anxiety, the more your anxiety gets triggered. Trust and believe in yourself, that you’re doing the best you can in the given circumstance. You do not need to apologize for your emotions. Be there for yourself and be gentle when anxiety throws a wrench into your day. Canceling plans to take care of yourself does not mean you are a failure or not good enough for your loved ones.
There are three ways that therapy has helped change my life. The first is that it has given me someone I can unload on without feeling guilty for sharing negative emotions. I hate to burden anyone around me with my problems, so this has been a critical way for me to release and recharge. Talking about your issues is also the first step to tackling them. The second being that it has given me tools to quiet anxious feelings. It is vital to have tools in this battle between you and your anxiety to bring down the beast to a size you can take on. Whether it be breathing exercises, cognitive behavior therapy, exposure therapy, having tools you can tap into is critical. The third and last way therapy has helped me is to recognize past traumas and behaviors that triggered my anxiety. It’s essential to have a roadmap from where you have been to help you avoid the same path.
While everyone would like to rid themselves of their anxiety as soon as possible, it is essential to be realistic. It took time to develop your anxiety, and it’s going to take time to overcome or control it. Do not give up, as your efforts may feel like one step forward and two steps back. This is not easy to face, so the fact that you are choosing to stand up against it is brave. As you stand up to it, it isn’t as scary, and you train your mind to learn how to overcome the obstacles that anxiety throws in your way. Everyone’s timeline will be different, so don’t compare one person’s progress to yours. This is your journey to getting better. When it took me a few years to overcome my severe anxiety disorder, there were so many times that I felt that it was an insurmountable feat. However, now I am on the other side and understand that you can’t always see progress at the moment. After pushing yourself day after day, you wake up and realize that you are getting better.
I understand that medication is not for everyone, but it was crucial to my initial progress in overcoming my anxiety. I tried many natural techniques to help my anxiety. I was so afraid of medication and how it would affect me that it took me two years to try. If I could go back and change anything, I would tell myself to give the medication a shot. It helped to bring down my baseline anxiety so that I could go back to doing what I stopped because of my anxiety. The more I could go back to what my healthy life looked like, pre-anxiety, the less anxious I felt. I did not have to tools to do this on my own, and I partially credit my medication for helping to quiet my anxiety.
These tips have been crucial to my recovery from severe anxiety. I know that everyone is different, and some of these will help you more than others. Anxiety does not have one cookie-cutter way to battle it. It is essential to cultivate tools to help alleviate it. The goal does not need to be never to feel anxious but to have the tools to live on your terms rather than anxiety.
What techniques or tips would you provide others who want help with anxiety?