Dealing with Anxiety, Like a Boss

It amazes me how many people are constantly posting on social media about their anxiety and how they can't deal with it and how they don't understand how other people deal with it. As someone who was once 100% controlled by anxiety, I can commiserate.

Anxiety sucks.

And people who don't get anxiety suck even more.

But here's what doesn't suck about anxiety: You get to decide, every day, whether you're going to let it control you. It's not a disease. It's not something you're stuck with. It's something completely and totally fabricated by your body and once you realize that, you get to realize that dealing with anxiety is the exact same as choosing to raise your hand.

Go ahead, choose to raise your hand. Which hand did you raise? Right or left? I raised my right, cause that's my high five hand.

Let me give you some technical background. Your brain is an amazing thing. It can do anything, like fabricate a memory. Or a story. Or make you believe a lie. Or make you remember a sad time. Or make you feel nervous. Or make your feel anxious. Just by writing these things, I immediately started feeling anxiety. My jaw clenched, my stomach dropped, I started thinking about my anxiety and that led to more anxiety and if I let it, it would consume the rest of my night, because that's what anxiety is.  All-consuming.

So, if your brain can do all of these things, then it can undo these things. For instance, you chose to raise your hand earlier. Is it still raised? No? Because you chose to put it down. Maybe you needed it to scroll down the post. Maybe it just got tired. You don't really know why you chose to put it down, but you did, and it wasn't until I mentioned it that you even realized that you did it. However, back when you were a baby, raising your hand was a really big deal!

Choosing to deal with your anxiety uses the exact same principles. First off, notice your anxiety. Feel it? Me too. Now decide what you're going to do with it. Are you going to lean in to the feeling and explore it a little while? Or are you going to give it the finger and say, no thank you? That's the beauty of our brain's, we get to choose what to do with everything that comes to us. Even thoughts.

Have you ever thought about something awful, and anxiety producing? My favorite anxiety producing words are 'What if?' What if I don't get that job? What if I never pay off my student loans? What if this? What if that? Well, what if I told you that the next time you 'what if' or think of something negative, you don't have to actually continue thinking about it? One of my favorite phrases that I learned from my therapist (yes, I was in therapy for years for my anxiety) was "If you don't like the picture, change it." When you think of something negative, and it produces anxiety, change the picture. Think of something that makes you happy. Get up. Walk around. Go to your proverbial happy place. Change the picture.

The next step to dealing with anxiety is remembering to breathe. I'm not going to spend a ton of time on this, because I'm going to recommend a few good books for those who deal with anxiety, and they talk about noticing your breath, but taking a moment and doing a long exhale can immediately relax you.

Listen, I am not an expert. I deal with my anxiety every day. If you can just take a minute to notice your anxiety, and then choose what to do with it, it'll help. It did for me. I now go days where I feel very little anxiety and there's other days (like today actually) that I struggle a bit with it. Either way, remember that your anxiety is fabricated by your brain which means that you get to choose what to do with it. Feel great about yourself today!

I've read a fair amount of books regarding anxiety, but my favorites are as follows:

*Wondering why The Grief Recovery Handbook is on this list?
A large part of my anxiety was caused my the sheer amount of loss I experienced
as a child, young adult, and into my adult life. Loss is not just death, it's divorce,
it's the loss of a pet, the loss of a best friend, loss of a boyfriend.
 This book helped me work through that. 

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High five!