Anxiety is not the enemy
Living with anxiety can be debilitating and frustrating. Constantly worrying, catastrophising and creating worst-case scenarios do nothing but leaving you feeling exhausted and fearful, and it is taking away from you a precious little thing called living in the present. You might ask yourself what’s wrong with you. It might seem to you that you are the only one struggling, the only one that is experiencing devastating episodes of panic, fear, and a lack of control. Living with anxiety can bring up powerful and overwhelming feelings of shame, anger, sadness, isolation, and loss of hope.
No wonder that you feel scared and ill-equipped to manage everyday life, work or relationships. Panic attacks can leave one in a state of utter shock and in a constant state of fear, not knowing when it will happen again.
Good news! Anxiety can be treated...
Anxiety is not as uncommon as you might think. There is nothing wrong with you and there is no reason to believe that what you might go through right now will be your life forevermore.
We all experience anxiety from time to time, and in certain circumstances ,it can be beneficial. Some anxiety can do the trick when you are procrastinating on putting off doing your tax return, or responding to emails, or writing an essay that is long overdue. You want that anxiety to kick in, you want that worry telling you to stop binging on Netflix and get some work done. To have some anxiety is normal, for example when going for a job interview, sitting an exam, meeting new people, or doing something for the first time.
I wonder if you have the expectation that you should not feel anxious at all. I wonder if you find it hard to tolerate the discomfort that healthy levels of anxiety might bring. Do you tell yourself that you shouldn’t feel this way? Do you think that experiencing anxiety is a reflection of your levels of confidence and self-esteem? Do you find yourself comparing your response and reaction to others in a negative light? Be gentle with yourself, learn to be compassionate to whatever you might feel right now and bear in mind that you are doing your best, and your best is work in progress.
Anxiety is triggered in us as a response to a situation that might be perceived as dangerous or life-threatening to our brain. Meeting new people or sitting an exam is not a life-threatening situation, so what can be done to de-escalate the intensity of your thoughts and feelings? What strategies can you follow to manage your anxiety and to not let it take over?
As a first step, it might be helpful to identify that anxiety is a part in you, and not who you are. A part in you that you got tired of bossing you around and telling you what you can or can’t do. A useful strategy in managing anxiety is to develop the ability to have an attitude when your anxiety is showing up, to be assertive with this part in you who acts as your life coach. Find your mantra, and pick a phrase you might want to use when your worries are taking over. Start practising saying 'I am in charge, I am in control, I can manage', because you can and you will.
Maybe the time has come for you to stop being afraid of your anxiety. How do you feel about changing your thinking around anxiety? Instead of being terrified and dreading anxiety showing up, what about seeing it as an opportunity for you to practice skills and training your anxiety into knowing that you are in charge.
Start challenging what anxiety is saying!
Anxiety wants two things - predictability and comfort. Be aware when anxiety is showing up and expect it; be ready for it. Every time anxiety is showing up, it’s an opportunity to practice skills to manage. The more you practice, the less scary and less powerful this anxious part of you gets.
If you are tired of having anxiety as your life coach, or tired of having a long list of things that you can’t do, please know that there are ways to learn to manage what’s going on. Counselling for anxiety can help you with building resilience to stressful situations, getting a sense of empowerment, boosting your confidence and self-esteem. For most people anxiety is treatable and manageable.
Be one of those people who doesn't allow their anxiety to put them in a corner. Be free to love, to live, to be!
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