Grappling With Anxiety – What I Have Learned
Anxiety often feels like a battle between your mind and your heart. Your mind is telling you to “stop worrying, stop worrying, stop worrying,” while your heart continues to beat faster and faster, as if it welcomes the worry. I used to try and always deny the anxiety I would feel, whether it was during a performance, or before presenting to a class, or the anxiety I get when socializing. But I came to realize that denying your anxiety only makes it worse, causing it to fester and swell into what feels like a little green anxiety monster living inside of you. It’s not something you can continually repress or shoo away.
But having anxiety is somewhat of a double-edged sword, wouldn’t you agree? Ignoring your anxiety will not make it go away, but giving it too much attention only makes it worse. So, you can’t quite ignore it, but you can’t focus on it too hard, either. What are you supposed to do about it, then? The answer lies in having a balance between acknowledging your anxiety, recognizing its legitimacy, while simultaneously not letting it get the best of you. Easier said than done, I know. When I start to feel anxious about something, I often find myself thinking something along the lines of: “hey, I have anxiety right now and it feels very real, but that is totally ok. And I know I am going to get over it once I can take my mind off of it.” I personally find comfort in this train of thought.
Be mindful about your anxiety. Try to recognize your triggers so you know when to brace yourself for anxious situations. And don’t be daunted by these anxious situations, or your anxiety itself. Anxiety is normal! A lot of us have it and struggle silently with it. We all deal with anxious situations in life, but we have to try our best to not let these feelings consume us. Here are some ways I distract myself from my anxiety:
- Going for a walk, or a run especially
- Getting sun/sunbathing (Vitamin D always helps me feel better)
- Learning something new and easy (such as a simple strategy or card game)
- Practicing an already-acquired skill (music, art, sports, etc.)
- Watching a new TV show/movie + writing a pretend review on it afterwards (this helps me focus more intently on the content and engage critically with the material)
- Repeating a mantra to myself when I feel anxious (i.e., if I start to feel overwhelming anxiety, I will chant Hare Krishna in my head in order to subdue any overwhelming or anxious thoughts). Your mantra can be whatever you want it to be, whatever brings you peace when you think about it. The mantra, of course, does not have to have a religious or spiritual connotation in order to be effective. Just whatever speaks to you personally.
If you feel that your anxiety is out of control or seriously affecting your quality of life, I would advise seeking help from a mental health professional. Here is a link to a trusted website listing every step you need to take in order to find a qualified mental health professional for your personal needs.
Happy spring everyone! Remember to keep staying positive. And always remember you are never alone in your struggles. That is the beauty of SOVA and this online platform we all have at our fingertips.
If you feel comfortable, please feel free to comment some helpful tools/tricks you have learned for dealing with your own anxiety. Or, simply feel free to share your experience living with anxiety and join in on the discussion! Any information you feel comfortable sharing is certainly welcome.
What helps you with anxiety? Have you tried any of the tips listed above?