Have you ever felt like you are trapped in your anxiety cycle? Maybe you struggle with constant worrying, inability to focus and sleep, or have other symptoms?
Let me reassure you: anxiety is not your enemy. It’s a natural response of your brain to life stressors such as financial issues, stress at work, relationship problems, and more. We need anxiety to remind us to take action, but sometimes it’s overwhelming and even unnecessary. Think about situations when nothing is really happening, and there’s not much to worry about, but you still feel like you are on edge and unable to relax. Whatever it is: anxiety or panic attack, there are 5 things I can think of our anxiety doesn’t want us to know.
Your anxiety symptoms won’t kill you
People who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks often face scary thoughts like what happens if I can’t breathe, what if I faint in public, etc. Again, in reality, it’s your brain trying to do its job and protect you from danger but sometimes it’s overreacting. Unless you have a condition that puts you in danger, your anxiety symptoms alone won’t kill you. Yes, hyperventilation, stomach aches, fatigue are not comfortable, but they are not dangerous for your life. The sooner you realize it, the better.
By trying to avoid perceived danger we only confirm our brain’s worry and keep ourselves isolated for longer. Avoidance is the best way to keep the vicious cycle of anxiety going.
Worrying won’t prevent bad things from happening
If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, as I do, there may be a thought on the back of your mind that worrying keeps you safe, that it’s necessary for your survival. It’s common for people with this condition because there is some truth to it. However, it doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. Anxiety basically keeps you from living your life. “So far, it’s been keeping me alive,” – you’ll say. Sure, but what has it robbed you of? Spending time with family and friends, visiting new places, taking that amazing job opportunity? Now, think about whether it was worth it in the end.
Question your anxiety. Talk to it. Let it know, that you acknowledge it, and you are grateful for your brain trying to protect you. But also let it know that you want to live your life to the fullest, even if sometimes it comes with risks. Life comes with uncertainty, there’s no guarantee of tomorrow. Embracing it can be hard for anxious people, but it is incredibly freeing.
You are safe now
One of the most important things to remember when you are anxious is the importance of being present in the moment. Anxiety is mostly fear of future events, which may or may not happen. Now is the only time you have. Not past, not future, just now! And now you are safe.
It can be hard to stay in this mindset as our brains are naturally wired to care about the future, but breathing exercises, journaling, and yoga can help with practicing mindfulness.
You can be productive, even when worrying
This is another thing that your anxiety doesn’t want you to know. I know that many anxious people including myself have this worry that we won’t be able to do our daily tasks because of our anxiety, which in turn breeds even more anxiety. But the chances are that you will still be able to take care of your daily life despite lack of sleep, worry, and fatigue. We can be productive even when worrying!
Now, I am not saying it’s going to be easy, or that you don’t need sleep and calmness to function optimally. I am just saying that it’s possible, and it will be possible for you. We are much stronger and resilient than we think. Next time you worry about your responsibilities, remind yourself of that.
Anxiety will subside once you stop trying to avoid it
Last but certainly not least, anxiety will subside once you stop trying to avoid it. Anxiety feeds off fear and worries about facing that fear. Long before the actual event happens our minds have already come up with hundreds or thousands of ways how things can go wrong. As mentioned earlier, the brain wants to protect us from any negative outcome. What’s the best way to do it? Exactly! By not being in the situation at all!
You will try to avoid scary and uncertain situations whenever you can. But it won’t ever stop your anxiety, it will only reinforce your fears. Our lives are uncertain, there’s no way around it. Avoidance leads to even more anxiety and overall poor quality of life. It may even cause depression if you constantly miss out on important events in your life or can’t do what you want to do because of your fears. Instead, I want you to try and face your fears one fear at a time. It’s important to do things that make us feel uncomfortable and to work on gaining strength and confidence.
With this being said, if you are dealing with severe anxiety, there is no shame in seeking help. Mental health counselors are trained to work with avoidance, fear of uncertainty, and much more. Click here to make an appointment with your therapist.
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About the author:
After struggling with an anxiety disorder for more than a decade, Anna decided to create her own mental health blog Pillows&Trees where she shares her journey from coping skills to new discoveries. She’s also a social media strategist at Married to Navy Counseling Services.
Find Anna on Instagram @pillowsandtrees.