Fighting anxiety has become the keynote of my blog as I’ve been fighting it since my teenage years (thanks to my anxious parents) and even though I’ve achieved some sort of mindfulness and I can say now that I fully understand the roots of my anxiety and also I am able to apply certain techniques to improve my emotional state, still sometimes anxiety takes 100% of me.
Living with anxiety is not an option as it means health problems in the future due to constant stress. Read more about health and what you can do to improve it here. So, how to treat anxiety?
How to treat anxiety
- Try to avoid things that trigger anxiety.
- Focus on what you can do now instead of focusing on what you can’t do now.
- Accept the world as it is and trust the natural flow of events.
- Be in the here-and-now.
- Find activities to distract yourself.
- Substitute your negative beliefs with positive ones.
Try to avoid things that trigger anxiety
People who have never experienced real anxiety will tell you to come out of your comfort zone and face your fears. As someone who used to suffer from social anxiety, I can say that this never works. In fact, if you have social anxiety you will probably agree with me that giving public speeches or going to crowded places, as suggested by some “psychologists,” is absolutely impossible for a person with social anxiety. Facing your fears without understanding their roots does more harm than good. I remember giving public speeches at college and all I got as a result were severe panic attacks.
So, my opinion: before you understand why you have anxiety and how to deal with anxiety, you MUST avoid everything that gives you anxiety as much as you can. Maybe it’s even better for you to avoid those things forever. Stop feeding your fears (here is another article by me on how feeding your fears helps anxiety flourish)! For example, news gives me anxiety because there never seems to be good news. Watching news can only develop fear of fires, murders, terror attacks, etc., however, fear won’t help act in the most rational way in case there’s a fire, a murderer, or a terror attack. Fear will only trigger massive anxiety which will make things even worse. Another example, how can my knowledge of what is going on in the world or in politics of my country help solve problems that exist? Usually there’s nothing I can do. Everything this knowledge can do is give me massive anxiety = stress = health problems. Do you agree? By the way, read How to Relieve Stress Quickly.
So I try to avoid news and Google has almost stopped suggesting me news on deaths, accidents, catastrophes – success.
Focus on what you can do now instead of focusing on what you can’t do now
Sometimes we are anxious because of a situation we can’t change. As I said in How to Solve Your 99 Problems with a Proactive Approach, do what you can to help improve the situation instead of stressing yourself because of something you can’t influence. Instead of wasting time on pointless worrying, do the best you can to improve the situation.
Accept the world as it is and trust the natural flow of events
But what should I do if I can’t improve the situation, what if it’s beyond my control? Well, if you can’t do anything at all, then let go of the situation and just watch things unfold as they are supposed to. Yes, there’re a lot of things that are beyond our control. If one of them happens to you, maybe it’s supposed to teach you to accept the world as it is and to trust the Universe. Don’t judge, don’t overthink, just let it be. Your anxiousness will not help anyway.
Be in the here-and-now
Whenever you notice your mind wandering somewhere in the past or in the future, which triggers anxiety, pull yourself out of there. Look around, notice what surrounds you: focus on the colors, focus on the shapes; focus on noises around you; focus on your sensations now: are your feet cold or warm? Can you sense your fingertips? Try to sense your body from toes to your head; focus on your breathing.
Spend some time just sitting in silence or listening to relaxing music in a comfortable position. Don’t cling to your thoughts and don’t try to control them. Let them wander and eventually, they will fade away.
Find activities to distract yourself
Find activities to distract yourself from negative thoughts. Focus on the process, keep reminding yourself where you are now and what surrounds you (here and now). Best activity is one that can help you solve the problem that gives you anxiety. For example, if you’re anxious because of money, the best activity for you is something that will generate money in the future or something that generates money now.
However, I do understand that sometimes our anxiety is so irrational that the only solution you may see seems completely insane. For example, in case of separation anxiety, a person is extremely worried when their loved-ones go somewhere without them. Anxiety starts drawing terrible pictures of what may happen to them while they are away. But following your husband and children everywhere they go is too much and sometimes even physically impossible, right? In this case, the best activity to distract yourself from negative thoughts is reading educational books, websites, watching videos, or talking to a psychologist in order to understand that your fears are irrational and learn how to get rid of them and how to deal with anxiety.
Substitute your negative beliefs with positive ones
Easier said than done as it’s not something you can change at once. However, it’s absolutely possible to change your negative beliefs over time. Just don’t give up too soon. Be patient with yourself.
Let’s look at how a person with social anxiety can change their beliefs about reality and eventually cure social anxiety. Imagine that you believe other people hate you: they look at you, they watch you, they want you to make a mistake, they want to laugh at you – so they are a threat. However, the truth is that other people most probably don’t care about you, they don’t watch your every move, they don’t even think about you because every person is first and foremost concerned about their own appearance and their own life. To get rid of social anxiety you have to understand and believe that your negative thoughts about people are not reality. Your mind is just full of illusions, learn more about this “people don’t like me” trick our minds play on us here. Also, here you can read how I managed to get rid of social anxiety after 13 years of suffering from it.
Same with other negative beliefs. Identify all your negative beliefs and try to substitute them with positive ones. For example, if you believe that the world is a dangerous place, convince yourself that the world is safe. What’s the point of living in fear when nothing bad has actually happened to you or your loved ones? Will your fear and anxiety prevent bad things from happening?
Remember, we get what we believe in: if you believe in bad things and all you focus your attention on are bad things – your life starts revolving around bad things. Your anxiety keeps feeding your fears and they grow even bigger to the point when anxiety changes your life completely – you no longer can live a normal life. If you live every day in fear, eventually, bad things you’re fearing may happen to you. Stop attracting bad things to your life with your anxiety! Stop giving your energy to bad predictions! Use your energy in a positive way. Use it to improve your life, not to make it worse. You are able to stop destroying yourself no matter how far down this road you’ve gone. All you need is willpower to tame your negative thoughts and substitute them with similar positive thoughts.
Remember that anxiety is fear and fear is a desperate desire of our mind to control everything. However, it is impossible as you are not God. Your plans are not God’s plans and sometimes God’s plans for you are much better than you could ever imagine. How to treat anxiety? Do what I’ve mentioned above and let go of control.
Other articles that may help you understand how to treat anxiety and relieve stress: