If you’ve ever felt that heart squeezing, shortness of breath, unfounded worry or stress then you know how crippling it can be. You know how hard it can be to overcome the anxiety that accompanies different events and phases in life. Or even that accompanies a random day when you can’t figure out what there is to dread. Take it from someone who knows first hand how debilitating it can be–you have to be able to recognize the signs and try your best to overcome anxiety and stop it in its tracks.
For me, anxiety always comes with major moments, life changes, or stressful work related situations. I can feel perfectly fine and happy, but still have symptoms of anxiety. I actually think I’m a pretty strong person, so it can be very frustrating when my body makes me think otherwise. As a matter of fact, I’ve often expressed how unstressed I am, yet I still have physical manifestations of that anxiety. This, friends, is why anxiety is such an evil adversary. It sneaks up on you and crowds your life without you ever knowing it’s there until it’s too late.
The things that I struggle most with, and what others I know also struggle with, is that the anxiety gains power over your life. It has a terrible way of influencing your decisions, behaviors, and relationships. NO MORE. Please hear me say this, you are NOT alone. We’re not going to take it anymore.
Anxiety is ruling your life if:
1. You are experiencing physical symptoms because of anxiety.
One of the things that always accompanies anxiety for me is a physical manifestation of symptoms. These symptoms are my reality check. I typically deny anxiety and stress until my body says, no girl, you have to deal with this head on.
But there is, unfortunately, a stigma out there about anxiety. I think that’s why sometimes it takes me a while of suffering with symptoms before I’m in enough pain or sick enough to admit the truth.
Why would I do that to myself? Why would you? Who cares if someone thinks anxiety is a weakness? We know that it is certainly not. I, for one, don’t want to accept the stress that can accompany anxiety. Be honest with yourself and treat your heart, soul, and body for what’s really ailing you.
2. You talk yourself out of opportunities because of the “what ifs.”
This one. I hate this one. Thankfully, I don’t experience this as much as I used to. In high school, and even into college, I would talk myself out of promising opportunities because they might turn out badly. I might not get accepted into an organization. I might not be the best at that sport. I might make a fool out of myself by putting myself out there.
This is a horrible, miserable way to live life. No judgment. I can say it because I’ve lived it. You are not horrible and miserable. Your anxiety is making your life that way.
Recognize the cause of your hesitation before you make big decision. Ask yourself, “Am I walking away from this opportunity because it’s not right for me, or am I experiencing unwarranted hesitation?” If there is no real, concrete reason, stop and think before you walk away.
3. You stay away from social situations because of a sense of unexplained dread.
When I was a teenager, I really struggled with this. I guess I have always been an anxious person, and that can be hard to accept and deal with. I didn’t realize then that anxiety was the root of my problems. I just always assumed I was more conscientious than kids my age.
I would irrationally fear what could happen if I went out with my friends. Actually, I would think that sounds really fun, but what if we got into an awful car wreck on the way home. And I would let that dread stop me. I would stay home. Looking back, I wish I could tell myself what was really going on, and overcome those problems. Feeling these emotions can make you feel bad about yourself, but it absolutely shouldn’t.
If you’ve ever experienced this, please do me a favor. Push yourself and go anyway. Shove your worry to the back of your mind and go. I think you’d be surprised that once you take the initial step the anxiety lessens.
4. You worry about things that have no basis in fact.
Have you ever had an irrational sense of foreboding? Maybe you are, out of nowhere, stricken with worry about the safety, well being, or health of someone close to you. You know in your rational brain that they are healthy and, more than likely, perfectly safe. Yet, you can’t shake this “feeling” that you have. It might even keep you awake at night. This is anxiety working a number on you.
Do whatever it takes to calm this feeling if possible. Try your best to take deep breaths, calm down, and find some peace. It may help to listen to some music or play a mindless tv show in the background. It is essential that you remind yourself that there are no facts backing up your “feeling.” If you can ground yourself in reality, it’s easy to see that your worry stems from fiction.
You Can Overcome Anxiety
Anxiety looks different for everyone, but none of us should have to suffer from it. The take away is simple. Knowing you struggle with anxiety and accepting it is essential to taking back control. The longer you deny what’s going on, the longer it takes to lesson the symptoms. Anxiety does not have to be a defining factor in your life. Recognize it for what it is and treat it in whatever way works for you. It may be a therapy session with a professional or even a close friend.
For me, when I surround myself with people I love and trust, it always reminds me that I am bigger and stronger than anything anxiety throws at me. Spend time in prayer asking for a calm spirit and addressing what’s really bothering you.
I know I’m not alone in these feelings, but I would love to hear in the comments if any of you have ever felt the same way. How do you overcome anxiety? When we can talk about these things, share, and face them in the wide open, we can find peace. I’m learning to find mine, and I hope you do too.
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Disclaimer: I am not, in any way, a mental health expert. There are tons of websites you can visit that can help you medically understand anxiety and its symptoms. I am simply a person who struggles with anxiety myself and wants to offer advice to help you in a practical way, friend to friend. You may feel the need to seek medical help and/or counseling if you feel you struggle with severe anxiety.