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Dealing with Anxiety

Whether you’ve heard this song or not, The Black Eyed Peas have a great line in the chorus that anyone who’s ever felt anxiety can relate to:

The anxiety the sane and the insane rivalry
Paranoias brought me to my knees
Lord please please please
Take away my anxiety

So how do you take away your anxiety?

*Note to reader: Give yourself a solid 10-15 minutes for this post, I’ve included some valuable links, and really dig into steps you can take to PREVENTING anxiety, as a means of dealing with it, this isn’t a quick read*

We hear so much about dealing with it once it happens…”Take deep breaths.”  “Meditate.”  “Start a yoga practice.” and in really extreme cases, “Go see a doctor.”  Gotta love America, when in doubt, medicate…(didn’t I see a commercial for that drug?!)

So, how can you be more PROACTIVE about it, and make a few lifestyle changes to preempt the anxiety?

Anyone who’s ever been in sales knows the best way to handle objections is to address them before they come up.  So let’s treat anxiety like your body’s objections to what’s going on in your life.

Three HUGE causes of anxiety are: fear, clutter and relationships.

FEAR is at the root of most anxiety.  Even if it’s camouflaged by other things, when you really sit down and break apart the pieces of what’s eating you, good ol’ fear is probably the real host of the party.

Get a journal. I tell people to do this all the time, the people who listen get the results, the people who say, “Yea, I’ll do that” and don’t are probably still chillin’ in anxiety town.  Just sayin’.

Here’s why I love a journal.  Because you will write things in your own private journal that only you will be reading, that you may not admit to others.  Plain and simple.  Privacy works since FEAR of what others will think is paralyzing for some.

You must identify what you’re afraid of before you can launch a preemptive attack on it.  So take some time, be HONEST with yourself…there’s no one around but you, ADMIT what’s going on.  Sometimes it’s hard to identify, start with how do I really feel about xyz, as opposed to, how do I tell people I feel about this?

Once you figure it out, you have the power. Not even knowing what’s really bothering us can be debilitating.  Ever start crying and not know why?  That’s fun, “What the f*ck is wrong with me?! I don’t even know why I’m crying!”  It’s in there somewhere, you just have to do some digging and again, open up to yourself and BE HONEST.

Time. In thinking about what causes me anxiety, time is a big one.  Getting places on time (since I have a hectic schedule, maybe you can relate?), turning in assignments on time, hitting deadlines (self-imposed ones too!).  Here are three tips to crossing time off the anxiety source list:

1.  Wake up early. I know some of you are like “Are you kidding me Liz? I can barely drag myself out of bed as it is!” I’m telling you, try it out for a week.  Set the alarm 15-20 minutes early, this allows you to TAKE YOUR TIME getting ready, (rushing = panic= forgetting things= anxiety).  So allow yourself to slow down.

Still convinced that extra 15-20 mins of sleep makes a huge difference? Then go to bed 15-20 mins early, DVR that show you were going to stay up watching.  Turn the cell phone ringer off, leave it in another room or far away from your bed and get that rest!

2.  Plan to be finished the day before it’s due. Noticing the theme yet?  Giving yourself extra time to do things is a tremendous mitigator of anxiety.  Most of us tend to be procrastinators, “I work better under pressure.” That’s BS people.  You don’t work better, you just work, because you have to.  This is a quantity-quality thing.  Sure, you get more work done at the last minute, but is the quality really better than if you had been focused and less stressed? Probably NOT.

3.  Focus on the feeling. This is purely to motivate you.  When you’re adjusting to giving yourself this extra time by waking up early, or starting projects sooner and that voice in your head is telling you, “Do it later…” think about how excellent you’re going to feel when you’re not rushed, but relaxed, when you’re not frantic, but focused.  *Sigh of relief* Sign me up for that!

CLUTTER. Nothing like a nice clean environment whether it’s your home or your work space to clear out some anxiety.  Often the physical clutter can lead to mental clutter so get that crap out of your way.  It takes the same amount of time to just clean up the messes as it does dreading it and thinking about doing it.  So just eat the frog, and get it done! (click on that and watch the 88 second video, it’s money!)

RELATIONSHIPS. Ok, there’s a reason why there are thousands of books in print about relationships.  They’re the ultimate double edged sword-beautiful and tragic all in one.  When it comes to anxiety, here’s my take on being preemptive.  (Remember, I never said this was going to be easy!)

You need to either limit, or eliminate interaction with the people who cause you the most anxiety. You know who these people are.  When you leave their company, you don’t feel uplifted and joyful for having spent the time (whether it’s in person, via email or a phone call), you feel DRAINED.  In the most challenging cases, it’s your closest friends, family or your partner.

Family. I’m a firm believer that you stick by your family no matter what.  But no one ever said that means you have to answer all their calls, all the time.  Take your space when you need it.

*Before friends and relationships, hop over to White Hot Truth real quick (you’ll understand why as soon as you click and start reading) for a beautiful post by Danielle Laporte, The 7 Thinks I Know About Active Letting Go

Friends. This can get sticky when you want to spend less time around a person who is in your “group.” But you know what? You’re a grown up and you make your own decisions.  It’s ok to skip an outing here and there to preserve your own sanity.  Just like with family, take your space when you need it, don’t answer every call, respond to every email or text.  And darling, if the mere mention of the persons name gets your chest feeling all tight and you start breathing shorter, it’s time to consider ending that friendship.

Partners. This one gets tough too, because for so many of us, a big FEAR that comes up in this area is not wanting to be alone.  We all truly want to believe we’re better off on our own than in an unfulfilling relationship, but how many of us have stuck one out anyway?  Again, you have to focus on the feeling. Grab that journal I mentioned earlier, and figure out your most desired feelings.  How would your ideal relationship make you feel? Admired? Appreciated? Brilliant? Beautiful? Powerful? Needed?  Identify 3-5 feelings, take a look at your relationship and if it’s not hitting the majority of them…it might be time to dig deep and GET HONEST with yourself again about whether or not you really belong there.

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Dealing with Anxiety