Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows but only empties today of its strength. - Charles Spurgeon
The google definition of anxiety states "a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome."
That being said anxiety can be experienced differently by everyone. Chances are each and every one of you have suffered from anxiety in the past. Maybe even you are currently anxious about something. Considering the times, it's also important to know it is okay to have anxiety it is common to have anxiety.
“Fear is inevitable, I have to accept that, but I cannot allow it to paralyze me.”
Different Types of Anxiety
As mentioned there are different types of anxiety. Even within these different types, people can experience them differently. GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder). This is a constant anxiety that usually has lasted longer than six months and consists of constant and chronic worrying. Social Anxiety, is where you have a fear of being criticized, embarrassed or even eating in public, speaking in public or just making small talk. A specific phobia, this is where someone has a particular fear with something or some situation and basically avoids it at all cost. An example of this can be my fear of meeting someone I know unexpectedly in public. I use to avoid going out to avoid this very situation, now I just get butterflies in my stomach and hope I get lucky. Panic Attacks are what they may sound like. An episode of intense fear that will seem uncontrollable and overwhelming. You may even mistake a panic attack for a heart attack. If someone has persistent panic attacks it is said they have Panic Disorder. Anxiety is also more often than not very present in people with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) or PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
How does it come along?
The tricky thing about anxiety as mentioned is it can be triggered differently for different people. Something that may cause me anxiety might have no impact on you.
For some, anxiety can come as apart of Past trauma. An event has happened to you or someone close to you that has left a sour memory or poor outcome, the next time the same event or something similar comes along, your brain will be thinking the worst. Basically you fear the same outcome and assume the worse.
Stress is one of the most common triggers for anxiety whether it be at work, school or even at home our stress often can lead to anxiety. Financial concerns can also play a huge role.
What If? This is my main cause of anxiety. It is the fear of something that hasn't happened yet or may never happen. We create our own scenarios and outcomes for things that are out of our control.
The Now Ironically this isn't something I deal with personally but this is what I call in the moment anxiety. Did the dog run out of the house? Can't find mommy in Wal-Mart? These are what I consider sudden situations that could not be foreseen and therefore I have not had time to play my whole, What if?
These aren't all the triggers for anxiety, I couldn't possibly list them all especially when everyone's anxiety is different.
“Many times, the thought of fear itself is greater than what it is we fear."
This quote couldn't feel any more real. Despite that, we still fall in the endless loop of anxiety. Even though we know the outcome nine times out of 10 isn't as bad as we make it out to be in our head
How does it affect me?
My anxiety is terrible, over the years, it has gotten more controllable but the actual butterflies in my stomach and fear it causes has stayed the same. I'm just learning to fight it. Put it this way, two of my biggest causes of anxiety were opening up to people about my suicidal ideations and stories and my love and comfort that scarves brings me. You would think one is a lot easier to talk about. You would be right but I bet you wouldn't think that me talking about suicide is easier than trying to explain my love of scarves. That just shows me how complex anxiety is, it doesn't make any sense. I've re-written this paragraph 5 times I get so anxious talking about it.
Even though I know everyone is accepting of me and my scarves it doesn't make it any easier and that's what makes anxiety so difficult. There is always that fear that someone won't be accepting. Even then so what? I of all people don't care what other people think but somehow my anxiety gets the best of me. So for me, one of my biggest comforts in life are my scarves but they also bring me the most anxiety and I'm working every day to try and overcome that. Seeing someone as I mentioned at the beginning is also my biggest fear, it all ties back to the What if?.
Anxiety has caused me to lay in bed for days on end all because I was worried about something that might happen. I even struggle with a minor case of PTSD that involves an overnight stay at a hospital due to suicidal thoughts. That's for a future blog. You'll have to subscribe to my mailing list to make sure you don't miss that. Anxiety is too complex to cover all in one blog, so I'm sorry if I miss something as I'm sure I'll have thoughts flow in after.
What if anxiety is something we use as a shield to protect ourselves from disapproval and not being validated? Despite my love for scarves, I feel ugly in them so what if my anxiety is some sort of safe-wall I subconsciously use to protect myself from the opinions of others. There's no telling what would happen if someone validated my own thought. This is all just an idea that came to me whilst walking my dog since anxiety isn't entirely a bad thing. It can keep us from troubling situations. So what if we can learn to use our anxiety for our benefit.
How can you deal with it? How do I cope with my anxiety?
Being mindful is the best way of dealing with anxiety, taking a step back and reminding yourself to live in the present moment. Remind yourself what you are capable of controlling. Meditation may work for some, I've been doing yoga for two years now and it helps me just be present for an hour a week. Does the mind still drift off? Of course it does, we aren't robots. The key is to be mindful of that and reel yourself back in.
Finding small things that can calm you down can also be huge. For me:
Taking a bath/shower just watching the water flow is always calming
An ice-cold glass of water is one of my simple pleasures
When alone I like to throw on a scarf and comfort myself.
Light a candle the smell gets me every time.
Cook a meal or bake something delicious. This one may be subjective but if you love to cook/bake it's a great way to get your mind onto something else
Walk my dog. Fresh air always helps me and who better to share that with than man's best friend.
If it is really bad taking a nap always helps me. (Yes, I know how hard it can be to fall asleep)
My number 1 tip for helping anxiety as cliche and obvious as it may seem is to breathe. JUST BREATHE. Take a step back and take deep long exhales and inhales. I usually use an 8 count. I can't tell you how many times something so simple has helped me out. This is great because it helps me anywhere.
With all that being said anxiety still gets the best of me time and time again. the important thing is to not give up and to keep on fighting. Stay mindful and love yourself. You are the only person who is by your side every step of the way.
Thank you for taking the time to read, please check out my recent posts and be sure to like, comment and share this post. I'd love to hear your thoughts and see our little community grow. Let me know in the comments how you deal with anxiety or your experience with it I'd love to hear about it.
- Thinking Mans Thoughts
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