Those who suffer from anxiety often find it difficult to get past it…to put their worrying aside and get on with the day. It feels like those anxious, worrisome thoughts take the reins of your life and control where you go, what you do, and how you do it. However, there are ways to refine your relationship with anxiety and reclaim control. You can even use your anxiety to propel your life forward and accomplish new things you never thought you could!
We particularly like the way the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand describes anxiety:
“Anxiety can be a spur to achievement as well as a barrier. Picture a bell curve with extreme anxiety on the far right and extreme lack of anxiety on the far left. If you’re too anxious to the point where it’s physically and mentally debilitating, then your performance suffers. If you’re not anxious enough, if you’re not engaged and slightly activated by anxiety, then your performance also suffers.”
The question becomes, how do you find a good balance where anxiety isn’t so great that it inhibits you from taking action, yet is just enough that you’re encouraged into action?
Here are 4 ways to redefine anxiety and its role in your daily life:
1.) Mange your anxiety instead of trying to get rid of it altogether. Some ways to manage it are:
• Writing in a journal
• Talking it out with a therapist
• Connecting with nature: taking a walk around the lake, or starting your day with a quick sunrise hike
2.) Identify the feeling and give it a name. Anxiety can take on many forms, such as feeling tired, impatient, bored, hyper, or even hungry. Learn what anxiety feels like to you—how it takes form in your body. Be aware of these sensations, and the situations during which they arise. Once you can identify the manifestation of anxiety in your body, put words to it. Simply say, “I feel anxious.” Talk to your therapist if you’re having trouble figuring out the sensation of anxiety in your body.
3.) Recognize what is under your control. To help manage anxiety, you must learn to distinguish the difference between the things you can control vs. the things you cannot. Use the exercise below to differentiate between these two scenarios and stop expending energy on what you can’t control.
First, take a piece of paper and make two columns: in one, write a list of things that are under your control; in the second column, write a list of things that are not. Take a look at your lists, then study the list of things you CAN control—focus your attention and energy there. The other side of the list, well…acknowledge that you can’t control these things, and do your best to let them go.
4.) Have a good support system in place. One of the best ways to combat anxiety is to have a good network of supportive friends and family members who you know will always be there for you. Family members, friends or a mental health professional can help you deal with and process anxiety in a healthy way.
You can use the steps above to help manage your anxious feelings, but it does not substitute having a good mental health professional by your side—someone who will help you navigate these feelings and identify the root origins of your anxieties.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by anxiety and don’t know what to do, start by requesting a free phone consultation with a member of our counseling team. Creative Counseling Center employs some of the best therapists in the Denver metro area—whatever you’re struggling with, we can help. Use the brief form below to request a free phone consultation, or call us to schedule your first appointment. We have openings this week!