Aside from physical illness, is there anything more debilitating than anxiety? It can lose jobs, it can destroy marriages, it can decimate other personal relationships and ultimately, it can cause you physical harm. 2020 has been the year of anxiety and with just cause. Let's try and address the other pandemic of the year and focus on ways to combat anxiety.
- Identify the root of your anxiety. It is hard to fight something or to address it if you do not know or understand its origination. The first step is to truly identify what may be the cause of your stressor. Is it a real concern? It is a side effect of something else going on in your life or in your head? Are you scared of losing your wife because she is giving you signs she may be leaving or is something else in your life out of control and your marriage is the misdirected focus of your stress? This is by far the hardest step to take but it is also the most meaningful and necessary if you are to move forward.
- Have you taken the proper actions to factually dismiss whatever you are worried about? Let’s say you are worried you have COVID. You were exposed, you have underlying health conditions and you are in constant contact with others who are high risk. You just cannot perseverating about the idea that you may have the virus. Well, if this concern is truly isolated and not an offshoot of something else, it should be easy enough to address with a test. So, did you get the test? If not, why not? It is a pretty simple and factual way to get over this concern. If yes, did it come up negative? If so, why are you still so insistent upon worrying about it? This brings us to number 3.
- If the catalyst of your anxiety has been addressed, why are you still stressing over it? Some people cannot move on. They cannot help but getting lost in thoughts of far fetched and rare scenarios where whatever closure they have received was wrong or incomplete. If even when the root of the anxiety was fully addressed by an expert or someone personally involved, you cannot move on, there may be something else at play. This can point to a more chronic case of anxiety in which case, it is likely best to start facing it head on with a professional.
- Breathe/Meditate/Pray. Anxiety lies in the mind. Whether the cause of it is real or perceived, the anxiety itself takes place in your brain. You need to relax the muscle that is causing the stress. Breathing exercises, meditation and even prayer can be very calming and bring some temporary piece to a mind that will not stop pacing. These activities can be deployed in times of severe anxiety to calm down and reset. They are also very helpful at night when your thoughts are keeping you awake.
- Laugh. Laughter and losing yourself in a moment of light-hearted joy can be super helpful to decrease your anxiety. Joking with friends, losing yourself in a funny movie or even surfing the web for comedy is a great way to get your mind off of the bad and replace it with something that can bring a smile to your face.
- Accept your place in the universe. This is maybe one of the harder tactics to execute. Accepting the fact that you cannot control everything and that at some point, you are at the mercy of the world around you. Our time should be spent on the things we can control. Our health, our efforts, our attitudes, how we treat others, how we spend our time etc. We cannot overwhelm ourselves with the “what if” scenarios of things we cannot control. As we mentioned, this one by far is one of the hardest pieces of advice to accept and implement but those in life who have accepted it, tend to live much happier than most.
- Live a healthy life. Channel the negative thoughts and emotions into positives. Do not react to them with destructive behavior such as binge eating or drinking, social behavior that brings harm or anything else similar. Eat well. Exercise. Train a martial art. Focus on the things you can control and do them to the best of your ability and make smart choices that add a positive influence to your life.
- Identify what sets you off. If your anxiety is specific then it may be easy to identify some triggers. Certain places, people, songs or even movies may do it. We hate to turn the other cheek but, sometimes avoiding triggers is a proactive way to stay on the right path.
- Talk about it. We are not doctors, we are not licensed to give specific advice to you. Talking about your anxiety and all of the things we address above is a critical step in moving forward. Anxiety has levels and for some, it can be the difference between a productive day and a day spent alone crying. Do not let it take over your life. There are resources available and at the very least, friends or family.