3 Ways to Keep Anxiety From Taking Control of Your Life

Written by Dr. John Townsend

June 26, 2018

Everyone feels anxious every now and again. Anxiety is just a fact of life and a perfectly normal emotion. Unfortunately, though, certain life events can lead us to feel a little more than just normal anxiety. These events might include your children getting married and starting families, the death of a loved one, job loss or transition.

All of these life events can cause an overwhelming sense of dread, which is not a healthy way to go through life.

What Does Anxiety Feel Like?

Anxiety, as an emotion, can stem from anything that is stressful or disconcerting. These days, some people experience this emotion simply by watching the news for a few minutes!

So, what happens when you experience anxiety physically?

  • First, you enter a heightened state of consciousness. You’re more alert.
  • Second, you feel some kind of fear about the future or the situation. There’s a dread, like something bad is coming.
  • Third, you have a fear and must be ready for action. That’s where the body gets involved. Your heart beats faster and you’re breathing faster because you’re preparing to get out of danger. Think of it like the “fight or flight” methodology.

Before I talk about the right way to approach feelings of anxiety, I want to first tell you about a few wrong ways approaches to anxiety.

Don’t ignore your anxiety! Despite what you may think,  “I gotta just push through” mentality is not healthy. It’s a really bad idea to ignore your anxiety because the emotion is trying to tell you something. Ignoring anxiety can potentially lead to bad decisions, poor choices, and even health problems.

Similarly, stop shaming yourself about anxiety. Don’t make yourself feel bad for experiencing this very normal emotion. Don’t shame yourself and say, “I shouldn’t be feeling like this, I’m being a wimp, I’m being a kid.” No more shaming! Your anxiety is a valid emotion!

3 Healthy Ways to Overcome Anxiety

So far, we’ve agreed to stop ignoring and shaming our anxiety. Now, let me share some healthy ways to deal with anxiety.

  1. Be in a relationship. This can be any relationship with someone who knows you deal with anxiety. Find three or four friends who you can reach out to and say, “From time to time, I deal with anxiety and I need to know I can call you and just say, ‘Can we talk, can you kind of get me off the ledge?'” This must be a relationship where you can comfortably express your feelings. Part of this relationship will require them to give you advice or guidance like, “Why don’t you go jog or go pray?” or something like that. Whatever they suggest should help get your emotions out of the cycle of anxiety by suggesting other activities.
  2. Give yourself a pep talk. I am a huge advocate of taking a moment and reciting the Serenity Prayer to yourself. Say to yourself, “God help me to know the difference between the things I can change, and can’t change, and wisdom to know the difference.” This may seem like a small thing, but it can help change your mindset and start moving forward out of your anxious emotion.
  3. See a therapist. If your anxiety reaches a point where it becomes unmanageable, including impacting your work or home life, it’s time to seek professional help. They can help you sort through what’s going on and what’s driving your anxiety. You can also consider seeing a psychiatrist for medication.

Hard times and anxiety come and go. When you start to feel those anxious emotions, it’s very important to take steps to overcome anxiety before it gets the best of you and disrupts your life in a way that can’t be fixed. I believe you have the faith, hope, and love to overcome anxiety and any other challenge you’re facing.

 

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