Being the Boss of Your Anxiety

by - March 07, 2017

I came across a post from a blogger that I recently followed (Jen from Affecionada) about panic attacks. It was such an inspiring piece and really motivated me to share my own experience with anxiety.

STORY TIME
I can't tell you when it started but at some point, I began to realize how terrified I was of being in social situations and huge crowds. I was the girl in high school who never raised her hand in class. Although somehow, with the help of my friends, I was able to join clubs and even become the co-president of one. For me, that was a huge stepping stone because I never had the guts to socialize, much less lead other people.

Once I got to college, the increase in size of my immediate community brought back feelings of anxiety. I began to feel so small and out of place. My freshmen roommates left for other colleges. I had a different roommate from sophomore to senior year; having to adapt to living with a new person every year was quite difficult. But, eventually, I became more comfortable with my campus and even with the people I hung out with. I got to know my classmates and peers, who were going through the same exams and projects and professors as I was (since we were all in the same department). I got a job on campus and even off campus.

I survived.

Did I still have moments of anxiety and fear? Definitely. Sometimes, I would be doing something and not realize that I was holding my breath. Or I would be walking down the street, heading to my destination, and I would start talking to myself out loud. I would run through the possible scenarios and try to psyche myself up.

After college, I worked. I had jobs. I talked to people. I conquered my days. Through it all, there was this lingering ball of panic and anxiety bouncing around inside my chest. But you know what? Once I was able to get past it (at least in the moment), it felt good. I felt proud even if it was only for a few minutes.

"Yes! I talked to that customer."

"Yes! I helped her find the perfect dress."

"Yes! He liked my idea."

So here's my (unprofessional) advice to you: Don't let your anxiety control you. 

TIPS

one.
Own your anxiety. If you aren't aware of the fact that you are experiencing anxiety, it's really hard to understand how to overcome it. Know what makes you anxious and what makes you feel like it's the end of the world. And then, be the BOSS. You are in control of your actions. You control how you handle your emotions. If you are always down or sad or negative about your anxiety, you'll never escape from it.

Think about a time you were scared out of your mind about something but you did it anyway.
If you let your anxiety be the boss of you, you'll never be able to live your life the way you want to.

two.
Talk about your anxiety. You don't have to Tweet about it to everyone but find a close friend or family member that you feel comfortable speaking to. Work through the triggers that cause you to feel like you're running 100 mph (or running on 100 cups of coffee).

For me, it's the uncertainty... not knowing what's going to happen if I do this or that.

three.
Recognize your anxiety. Sometimes, you may know exactly what causes those unnerving feelings but you find it hard to combat or even prevent them. Recognizing when it happens can help you take actions to soothe it.

If I notice that I've stopped breathing, I'll make sure to take several deep breaths afterward. Or it really helps me to sit down, place my hand over my chest, and do a couple of slow, gentle taps over my heart.

four.
Take it one step at a time. If you're anxious because you're stressed or overwhelmed, it can be a good idea to break the big tasks down to small tasks. The key is to focus on getting through one thing at a time.

For example, "Okay, I just need to call and make a reservation for this venue." Easy. Done.

Once you finish each task, you can give yourself a small reward like a sticker or a piece of chocolate. If you're not really into small rewards, you can give yourself a daily reward for finishing all of your tasks that day. It could be a nice bubble bath or watching the movie you've been dying to see. Whatever it is, it's easier to visualize the achievements when you are motivated to receive the reward.

five.
Stop thinking. One of my biggest mistakes is overthinking and worrying. Being attentive is a good thing. Wanting to improve is a good thing. Analyzing every little mistake? Not such a good thing. If you start feeling anxious because you're analyzing every worst case scenario, just stop. I mean, seriously. Just stop what you're doing and completely empty your mind.

Next, I want you to visualize something positive. It could be a wonderful memory, your favorite stuffed animal, a dream, anything. Once you start to calm down, think about your ideal best case scenario for whatever it is that you are trying to do. If there were no boundaries or obstacles, what would be the best thing that could happen?? For example, you have a presentation to do at work. Best case scenario would be to get through all the points without getting flustered AND having your boss praise you for your hard work.

When you have that figured out, write it down and stick it somewhere you have visual access to everyday (i.e. fridge, bedroom wall, front door). Think about the steps you need to take to get to that ideal end result. Maybe you're worried you'll forget what to say or your presentation won't be cohesive. What do you need to do to make sure those aren't an issue? For example, you could practice with a friend so that your words come naturally or record yourself doing the presentation so you can see what improvements to make. You could get a colleague to review your work, to make sure it actually flows and makes sense.

Be proactive in minimizing the causes of anxiety instead of focusing on the anxiety itself.

six.
Last but not least, know that you aren't alone. For me, I always felt like in my group of friends and family, I was the only one who understood what it meant to be crippled by your own fears. But in reality, everyone feels some form of anxiety. There are people who may feel it more than others and some who only feel it in certain situations.

A dark cave is scary when you're alone. But when you're surrounded by other people, when you have support from those who get what you're going through, it becomes a lot more manageable. I'm not saying, go out and join a million support groups or communities...but if you know someone or see someone who experiences anxiety, be a positive force! Help them be the boss of their anxiety!

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25 comments

  1. I have anxiety from time to time and actually there are a couple of times in my life when it was quite overwhelming. I agree with the over thinking, it really does help to just stop and to clear your mind or to get busy doing something so your mind gets off it!

    Carrie
    curlycraftymom.com

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    Replies
    1. Hey Carrie, thanks for sharing! You make a great point. Overthinking happens a lot more when you aren't occupied with something else (for me, it happens right before I sleep!).

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  2. These are all great tips, I think it is so good to face your anxiety and figure out how to overcome it
    xo
    www.laurajaneatelier.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing, Laura! I really do think it's important to face your anxiety rather than deny it or let it control you. Otherwise, you'll end up having so many regrets because you let anxiety hold you back from doing what you want.

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  3. Jenn, the advice you have given here are honestly really great. I had bad anxiety when I was running my business after university, I became quite isolated and run-down, I spent my days working on my own from home. And as a result, developed anxiety. I hated having too much 'alone' time to overthink every single thing. I had to have Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for 6 months, which helped me come out of it, and the therapist told me to take baby steps in breaking out of the cycle. Just as you've said, to tackle the fear, the only solution it to face it head on. And that sense of achievement is what pulls me out of it and motivate me. I still have anxiety bubbling from underneath (it's hard for it not to effect you in this day and age) and sometimes there are things that trigger it but luckily, I know how to control it now xxx

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    1. I know this is kind of a personal topic but I am so glad that you shared your story! I can imagine that working from home everyday and having that much alone time could drive you crazy. I am really happy to hear that you took steps to overcome your anxiety and that you've found something that helps you keep moving forward!!

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  4. Great tips, especially the recognition what causes the anxiety.

    jointyicroissanty

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  5. Thanks so much for sharing and for sharing your story, Jenn! :) I'm so happy to know my post resonated with someone and to now be connected with you! Six is so important and maybe one of the most difficult steps because, as you said, mental health is still not talked about widely enough. The inspiring part of blogging is that it can create community around topics like this one. xx

    Jen | affecionada

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    Replies
    1. Your post really touched me! I had been meaning to write about my personal story but it was difficult to take the first step. I was afraid of what people would think.

      You're totally right about the blogging community. People are so supportive and it warms my heart to know that even if it's just one other person who related to my story, it was worth sharing. Thanks again for stopping by! :)

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  6. this is a very inspiring post, Jenn
    I'm sure you'll always be the boss of your anxiety :)

    <3
    The Sweetest Escape

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing this, i have to admit I do let my anxiety get the best of me sometimes, I'll be sure to follow these tips

    Technicolor ♥ Heart

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading :) It's a process so don't feel like it has to happen overnight!

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  8. I'm so glad more girls and bloggers are speaking out about anxiety because it's so prevalent. I definitely can go through some anxious periods (especially lately) but if you can find some good coping strategies you'll be really well off <3

    xoxo
    Rina Samantha
    http://www.andshedressed.com

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    Replies
    1. Totally agree; I've been seeing more and more posts about it compared to when I first started blogging.

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  9. I pass all positive energy for you!
    xx
    Mónica Sors
    MES VOYAGES À PARIS
    NEW POST: PFW STREET STYLE BEST OUTFITS II

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    1. Thanks Monica! That's so sweet :)

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  10. I was always known as the quiet one in school. I hated raising my hand but I eventually got over it.
    Last year, was a hard time for me with my anxiety. One of my friends was taking everything out on me and I couldn't deal with it. I had to end the friendship but once I did my life was so much better.

    Jennifer
    Effortlessly Sophisticated

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    Replies
    1. I'm really sorry to hear about your friend but I'm glad you made the choice to end it. It can be so hard to cut people out of our lives but sometimes you have to do what's right for you. Thanks for sharing!

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  11. I agree, I think more people suffer with some sort of anxiety than we think. I know I do! It's so good to share our experiences and realise that we're not alone. x

    Kate Louise Blogs

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    1. Couldn't have said it better myself!

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  12. Great tips. great post. love it.

    www.adhiwahyudi.net

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  13. This is an inspiring post as so many of us feel anxious about different parts of our lives. Thanks for sharing your story.

    www.fashionradi.com

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Thank you for taking the time to stop by! Always happy to hear your thoughts :)