Strategies for Overcoming Anxiety, Overthinking, and Worrying.
I wanted to dedicate this week’s blog post about something that has been suggested to me and a topic I have first hand experience with myself. Thankfully, I don’t face this demon as much as I used to. I’m in no means an expert, and I know I don’t bare the “cure” for anxiety. I understand that telling someone to just “snap out of it” is insulting. I know how it feels for people to tell me to, “just be happy” when I tell them I have depression. I apologize if my suggestions for dealing with anxiety are insulting to people who suffer badly from it because I understand it’s a true disorder that take a lot more than wishful thinking to overcome.
In my personal experience, having anxiety or feeling worried made me sick to my stomach. It made my entire body numb and alert. It felt like the entire world stopped and my only concern or interest depended on the exact thing I felt anxious about. The types of things that happened in my life that caused my anxiety to worsen would be, waiting for answers, comprehending hurtful information, breakups, friendships, fights, school, confrontation, job interviews, working bad jobs, bad customers, awaiting punishment, test results, death, and failure.
The reason I don’t experience bad anxiety anymore is because I had to retrain my brain. Although, I do often feel anxious about things, nothing compares to how bad my anxiety used to be. I think the feeling of anxiousness is unavoidable. Sometimes, we even feel this way about good things such as surprise parties or seeing an old distant friend. When I decided to rewire my train of thought, I noticed that my anxiety subsided substantially.
Grasping the Severity of our Situations
I know it may be easier said than done, but we should consider the amount of weight and pressure we put on certain things. Understanding that a “bad test score” or an “argument with a friend” didn’t need to feel like our world is ending. Anxiety tricks our brains into thinking we are in danger and makes us enter some sort of survival mode. Even during the smallest experiences, we lose focus on how serious matters are. Next time you are feeling anxious about something, try your best to grasp reality and be honest with the severity of your situation. A break up with a partner doesn’t mean your world will end. A job interview may go badly, and you may not get the job, but does that mean it’s life or death?
Now, I know a lot of people that argue with me about why certain things are worth worrying about. I’ve met so many people that assure me that their worrying is valid because, for example, “If I don’t get this job, then I won’t have money. If I don’t have money, then I’ll starve. If I starve, then I’ll die.” Or something outrageously crazy like that. I’d like to say, YES, sometimes we should put pressure on ourselves to become more motivated. But, we need to be real with our emotions and let logic take the wheel. When we start that insane train of thought and domino effect every aspect of what could possibly go wrong, we enter an unnecessary territory for new fears to creep into our minds. Missing a job opportunity does not = death. See what I mean?
Realizing You’ve Survived Before
Second, I’d like to recall back to a time when I had a friend going through so much at school, a break up, sudden death in the family, and many other personal things that completely overwhelmed her. In circumstances like this, how could I ever tell her “everything is gonna be alright” because, even I would not accept that at the time being. Instead, I said to her, “Remember all them times before you worried yourself half to death? Remember how you survived all the madness in your life before? Maybe, if you could convince yourself this time that it’s not your first rodeo in anxiety city, MAYBE you’ll feel a bit more at ease?” Sure enough, it worked. You’ve survived it before, many times. I believe that you can survive it again, many times.
Worrying Doesn’t Change Anything, So Why Worry?
I like to remind myself that no matter what I am worrying about, it’s going to happen anyways. So, why worry? Worrying isn’t going to make any argument any better. Worrying isn’t going to make your test grade better. Worrying isn’t going to change the results of your blood work. Worrying isn’t going to make matters better or worse. Worrying isn’t going to make time go by faster or slower. Worrying isn’t going to make your job interview go any more smoothly. Worrying isn’t going to alter the progress of your applications. Worrying literally won’t change anything that’s already happening. That’s something you really need to understand.
Changing Constants In Your Life
One thing I did to help “cure” my constant anxiety attacks was to make a lot of changes in my life. The people, family, and job I had at the time that gave me the worst episodes were eventually cut out of my life. Subjecting yourself to situations that are stressful yet avoidable are a no brainier. Again, easier said than done. I promise you, though, once you’ve had enough pain and suffering, you’ll eventually WANT to change paths. I can not stress this enough…. The things in life that are constantly bringing you anxiety (Bad job, spouse, living situation, friendships…etc) they need to go. In order for you to heal, they can’t hold that power over you anymore. Unless you can somehow make the situations less stressful for yourself, they can’t be a constant in your life anymore.
Talking to Friends or a Therapist
Talking to people helps more than you’ll ever know. It can be (and probably should be) someone that will let you talk and they will just listen. Every time I talk something out with a good friend or my parents, I feel like a weight is lifted off my shoulders immediately. Sometimes, we just need to vent. I highly recommend a therapist. Although they are costly, they are professional and will be able to give you the life skills you need to overcome your bad thoughts and redirect your energy. At times, talking to your friends may start to wear on them if it becomes too much to handle. Consider both options!
Write it down.
Typing has been wonderful for me. Although I rather talk, typing or even writing down how I feel is a great method to clearing our minds. That, and we can always look back and remember how things used to be, and how they’re no longer that bad anymore. They serve as a good reminder that time heals everything. Experiences make us stronger. Diaries serve as a testament to better and worse days.
Keep Yourself Distracted
Last but not least, after understanding all the above, riding out the storm with distractions is the way to go. Once you’ve realized that there’s nothing you can do and the situations are no longer in your hands, pass the time with a good book, browse the internet, or go the grocery store. Whatever it may be, keep your brain preoccupied with healthy alternatives to worrying. You might as well do something productive instead of rocking back and forth worrying yourself to death. I promise, that will change nothing about your circumstances.
I hope you took away something from this post! If you have any suggestions to overcoming anxiety/overthinking/worrying I’d love to hear from you and feature you and your response in a future post.