Anxiety can be extremely debilitating, and its effects cannot be understated. It is something that can prevent you from living the life that you want to lead. I know this, because I have in the past suffered from chronic anxiety.
My main issue was in fact panic attacks, but I used to experience a great deal of anxiety in anticipating those attacks. It would stop me from doing things as simple as going to the hairdressers. Menial daily tasks became a struggle. When you find yourself in such a position, life becomes quite difficult to endure.
So if you are in that position, rest assured that I have a good idea of what you are going through. Know that you can beat your anxiety.
I have included below some tips that I have used myself, as well as advice as to where you can seek further help beyond this blog.
The first thing I would recommend is that you seek therapy. I personally went through an extended course of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and it was a complete revelation. In time, I was able to understand and rationalize my thought processes, and alter them to provide me with ample weapons against my anxiety and panic attacks.
Once you have suffered from chronic anxiety and panic attacks, I do not think that you will ever get over them fully. But what you can do is equip yourself so that if anxiety raises its ugly head, you know exactly what to do to put it in its place. This is where CBT is so effective – it can ‘re-wire’ your ‘hard-wired’ reactions to events and give you fuller control over your impulses.
Anxiety is in your head. Of course it is. It is not a physical thing. As such, it is not something that requires physical exertion to overcome. It is entirely conquerable with your mindset and your attitude.
You will be thinking, “yes, but that is easier said than done”. And you would be absolutely right. It is unlikely that you have ever let anxiety get the better of you without a fight. So you know that you often lose the struggle.
But do you? What is the struggle exactly? And at what point do you “lose”? Anxiety isn’t something that can be beaten. It is something that can be controlled. Anxiety is a natural human emotion and should be treated as an inevitability. It is how you deal with anxiety that defines you, not whether or not you “defeat” it.
So stop trying to “defeat” anxiety. Instead, focus on allowing it to exist as an emotion, but in a rational context. The sooner you accept anxiety as an inevitability in your life, the sooner you can learn to control it.
If you ever start feeling anxious about any situation, ask yourself if it is rational to feel anxious at that time. If you feel that it is, try to give yourself a clear explanation in your head as to why it is. If you have such an explanation, then take a long hard look at it, and try to objectively assess if it truly is a rational explanation.
This will do two things:
- You may realize that the anxiety is not based upon rationality, in which case, you are far better-placed to control it.
- In going through the thought process, you distract your brain and give you time to ‘breathe’. This in itself can help in controlling your anxiety.
If you do discover that your anxiety is based upon irrational fears, then you need to set out in telling yourself that. Over and over again. It may not feel like it is helping at times. But the more you do this, the more you will re-train your brain to understand the lack of logic behind your anxiety. In time, this will improve your ability to handle anxiety.
Depending upon the severity of your anxiety, you may wish to go on a course of medication to help bridge the gap between your anxiety and your healing. Medication does not have to be viewed as a crutch (nor should it be). It can be a useful tool to help you overcome your anxiety. When I suffered badly from anxiety and panic attacks, I was put on a course of Citalopram by my doctor. It was wonderfully effective in blunting my anxiety and panic attacks, but I could sense that the drug was masking the issue, rather than eradicating it.
It was in fact the therapy and personal efforts that led to my control over anxiety. The medication was simply a tool that I used to help me in my quest. You would do well to think of medication in the same way – as a tool, not the solution.
You’re Not Alone
There are so many people that can help you with your problem. I urge you to reveal your anxiety issue to your friends and family. This is something that I didn’t do. I hid it from almost everyone. That in itself was a huge struggle. Don’t make it harder for yourself than it has to be.
And please seek help in the form of CBT. Do not lie down and let anxiety beat you. Reach down inside of yourself and find the strength to do what is needed to conquer your anxiety and get on with your life.
No one should have to struggle with chronic anxiety. So make sure that you don’t let that happen.