We’ve talked about coping with an anxiety disorder—controlling your thoughts, journaling, managing emotions, and practicing peacefulness. While these coping mechanisms certainly help, the fact is, anxiety can be with you for the long-term. That’s because there is something deep-seated within you—perhaps a trauma—that is still affecting you and may continue to do so.
It’s okay if you never totally eradicate anxiety—many people are in the same boat. The key is to lean into it—acknowledge your situation, learn to accept it and practice coping techniques. You can have a happy, fulfilling life as a productive person. Anxiety is just a normal part of millions of people’s lives.
You’re Not Alone.
It helps to know you’re not alone, and that literally millions of Americans suffer from anxiety. If you feel anxious about being anxious, it may be because you think there’s shame involved in your behavior. Perhaps you think it’s illogical to feel anxiety and therefore you shouldn’t feel that way. Perhaps you feel you should have more control over your feelings. Whatever the reason, know that you’re in good company. You suffer from anxiety like so many others because you are human.
Slow-Walk Racing Thoughts.
One of the hallmarks of anxiety is racing thoughts that seem to get out of control. To slow down those racing thoughts, it helps to have a pre-ordained process you can go through. First, identify the problem. Ask yourself: What am I worrying about? Be specific and nail down what’s really worrying you. Then ask yourself: Is this something I can do something about? Sometimes just the smallest act can mitigate your worry.
And sometimes making an action plan will help. What can you do right now? Just do it, and then you can let your worry go. But sometimes, you need to make a plan. What do you need to do overtime? What steps do you need to go through? Schedule the actions you need to take on your calendar. Then let your worry go. There is nothing more you can do about it at this time. You’ve done everything humanly possible. Tell yourself to change your focus and think about something else.
Stay Away from Toxins.
There are toxic people and toxic situations that can trigger your anxiety. Sometimes they’re hard to avoid, especially if the toxic person is a member of your family, or the toxic situation is your workplace. But if you can identify toxins you can avoid, that’s the first step. If it’s a toxic person who makes you anxious, limit your interaction as much as possible. When you do have to be with that person, tell yourself in advance that you won’t engage, even if they try to goad you. Let their negativity roll off your back, which is not easy to do. You can start by being super conscious of what they’re doing and know you are strong enough not to be sucked into their behavior. You can’t control what they do, but you can be in charge of yourself.
Choose Healthy Living.
Getting plenty of sleep, eating well and exercising can make a difference, and is certainly not new advice. Also, tobacco and caffeine can make your heart and mind race, which can contribute to your anxiety or even bring it on. See if abstaining will help you feel better.
Consider, also, how much time you spend on social media. Comparing yourself to others or engaging in toxic exchanges or reading negative news will surely add to anyone’s anxiety. Experiment to see if social media is contributing to your anxiety by limiting your exposure for a time to see if there’s a difference in how you feel. Also, ask yourself if you’re substituting online connections with real-life relationships and interaction. Put down your computer and meet a friend for coffee, volunteer at the soup kitchen or wherever you can make real connections. That will sometimes ease anxiety.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact