Anxiety sucks. It really and truly does. It’s like the buzz kill to the whole human experience. Anxiety tugs at our emotions, convinces us that we’re failures, and makes us dread the day. We don’t want to go to work. After all, we’re anxious about getting fired, seeing family or friends because we hate seeing them struggle with our anxiety and worry, or even leaving our houses because of the fear of what might happen.
The worst part is when you feel isolated from everyone else and think they perceive you differently than they do. You begin to believe you’re completely crazy and alone in this world. I get it — I’ve been there too. So, today, I’m going to break it down for you—I’ll help you understand exactly what to do when anxiety is ruining your life.
It is often accompanied by nervous behavior, such as pacing back and forth, somatic complaints, and rumination. It is the subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over anticipated events, such as the feeling of imminent death.
Anxiety is not the same as fear, which is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat; anxiety occurs in situations without any imminent threat and serves to prepare the body for “fight or flight.”
In humans, anxiety may occur as part of a disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), panic disorder, phobias, or obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). The intensity of anxiety may vary over time and between individuals.
Anxiety can influence different aspects of life — personal relationships, professional life, health, etc. The level of anxiety that you experience is based on how much your thoughts and feelings are focused on the negatives in life rather than focusing on the positives.
It can affect people differently depending on their personalities and backgrounds. Some people are more prone to anxiety than others because they may have a genetic disposition or they may have experienced traumatic events in their lives that caused them to feel anxious or fearful.
Some people may appear calm on the outside but feel anxious inside. Others may appear nervous or fearful all of the time because they have been conditioned by their experiences in life to react this way when faced with certain situations or environments where they feel uncomfortable or insecure about themselves and their surroundings.
For you to overcome your anxiety disorder, you must first understand what causes it so that you can then learn how to manage it more effectively without having it control your life — physically and mentally.
Here’s how to overcome anxiety and live your life to the fullest.
1. Accepting Your Anxiety
Anxiety can be a difficult emotion to manage, especially when you feel that you’ve tried everything to help yourself. If you’re feeling anxious, it’s important to acknowledge and accept what you’re experiencing. Avoidance and denial are not helpful ways of dealing with anxiety.
Accepting your anxiety means being OK with it, even if you don’t like it. This doesn’t mean giving up on trying to find solutions — it just means being able to acknowledge that you’re feeling anxious and focus on other things besides your anxiety instead of letting it control your life.
When you accept your anxiety, it’s easier to talk about what’s causing your feelings or emotions so that they can become less overwhelming and easier to deal with. The more we talk about our feelings openly, the less taboo they become and the easier it is for others to understand and support us when we’re feeling bad.
2. Seeking Professional Help
Anxiety can feel like a monster that has taken over your life. But it’s possible to tame that beast with help from a professional therapist. Here are five signs that it may be time to find a therapist if you’re experiencing anxiety:
- You’re constantly afraid of something bad happening.
- You avoid situations that might cause you stress or embarrassment because you fear they’ll lead to catastrophe — even though nothing bad has happened in the past when you’ve done them.
- You have difficulty relaxing, even when no obvious threats are present in your environment (like loud noises or crowds).
- You avoid doing things because they make you anxious — even though they’re important and worthwhile.
- Your anxiety is so severe that it affects every aspect of your life (from work performance to relationships).
There are a lot of professionals who can help you with anxiety. Some people choose to see a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist, but there are other types of professionals out there as well.
- Therapists (also called mental health therapists) are trained to treat patients using a variety of techniques — including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — and often have additional training in techniques like mindfulness meditation or yoga. They also understand the various types of anxiety and can help you come up with strategies to manage your symptoms.
- Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have specialized training in diagnosing and treating mental health problems. Most psychiatrists will prescribe medications to treat anxiety, but they may also recommend therapy as well.
- Coaches work one-on-one with clients to help them achieve their goals by setting them and creating action plans that help people get unstuck and move forward. Coaches often specialize in helping people overcome specific problems like anxiety, depression, or addiction. Still, many coaches are also generalists who can help anyone make positive changes in their life.
3. Self-care Techniques for Managing Anxiety
When you’re feeling anxious, it’s easy to focus on the sensation of your heart racing and think about all the terrible things that could happen in the future. Getting caught up in what other people think about you is also easy. But these distractions don’t do much to help you feel better.
Self-care doesn’t mean spending hours at a spa or buying expensive creams or serums (though those things can be nice). It means ensuring your needs are met and your body is healthy enough to handle stress and anxiety better. Here are four ways self-care can help you manage anxiety:
- Self-care helps you feel less stressed out.
- It helps prevent burnout and exhaustion.
- It gives you the energy to take on challenges without feeling overwhelmed or overwhelmed by them (like getting through an interview or meeting new people).
- It helps prevent depression by boosting your mood and giving you more energy — a win-win situation!
The following are five tips for how to start practicing self-care today:
- Eat healthy foods
- Get enough sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Take time off work when needed
4. Building a Support Network
Having a strong support network is one important way to help manage your stress levels and reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Friends, family members, and co-workers can support you when you feel anxious or overwhelmed. They can listen to your concerns and help you solve problems. Here are some ways to start building a strong support network:
1. Talk to someone who understands. If you’re struggling with anxiety, the best thing you can do for yourself is find people who understand what you’re going through.
Talking about your feelings with friends or family members who know what it’s like to live with anxiety is one of the most helpful things you can do. If possible, find someone who has gone through similar experiences — they’ll understand what you’re going through and may be able to offer advice based on their own experiences.
2. Join a support group for people with anxiety. Support groups for people dealing with anxiety disorders provide an opportunity for members to share their experiences and learn from each other’s successes and failures. You may hear about new medications or therapies that could help you manage your symptoms better.
Support groups can also help you feel less alone when dealing with an illness that many people don’t understand very well (even if they think they do). Many local organizations offer free or low-cost support group meetings for those dealing with anxiety disorders and related conditions such as panic attacks and phobias.
3. Do things that make you happy — even if they initially seem small. You might not believe it at first, but even small things can be enough to help you feel better.
Try listening to music or watching a movie that makes you smile, exercising, cooking, baking, going for a walk outside, cleaning your room, doing yoga or stretching, meditating, talking with a friend, playing video games, drinking alcohol responsibly (but not too much); writing in a journal — anything! It all counts as self-care!
5. Changing Your Mindset
Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health conditions, but they’re also among the most stigmatized. The problem is that negative thoughts often go hand-in-hand with anxiety and depression, so it can be difficult to tell if something is just a normal part of being human or whether it’s a symptom of an underlying condition.
For example, a person who has been diagnosed with anxiety might think: “I feel like everyone hates me.” But what if that thought isn’t accurate? What if there is no evidence to support it? And even if there were evidence, would that warrant such a strong reaction?
In reality, these thoughts can harm yourself and those around you. They may lead to avoidance behaviors (like not leaving your house because you fear public judgment), which only reinforces your fear.
Positive thinking has long been associated with happiness — but now there’s evidence that it could also help reduce stress levels and improve overall health.
Positive thinking can help you cope with anxiety in several ways. For example:
- You’ll be less likely to misinterpret your feelings as signs of an impending disaster.
- You’ll be more able to see the bright side of things.
- You will feel better about yourself, boosting your self-esteem and confidence.
- Positive thinking can help you build resilience in the face of setbacks or challenges.
- When you practice positive thinking regularly, you’ll notice that your mood is generally more cheerful and optimistic than before.
- Positive thinking is a skill that can be learned over time with practice and persistence.
You Are Not Alone
And that’s how to stop anxiety. It isn’t simple, and it won’t be easy. But the first step is simple: Understand What Anxiety Is And What It Does To You. Use this newfound knowledge to challenge your thinking and develop an action plan for dealing with your anxiety as it rears its ugly head. That’s how you’ll start living a healthier, happier life.
Ultimately, I want to reiterate what I said: you are not alone. Your anxiety does not define you, and you have the power to change your life. If you can show yourself that more of life could be good without anxiety, it will help you normalize your feelings and symptoms to a certain extent. And when those anxious moments come up, they likely will feel less like a tidal wave because you realize that they are just moments—they don’t define every part of your life.