"Our Age of Anxiety is, in great part, the result of trying to do today's job with yesterday's tools and yesterday's concepts." — Marshall McLuhan
When it comes time to face something uncomfortable, anxiety always finds a way to step in.
Whether you're anxious about a social situation or an unavoidable event coming up, anxiety sucks and it doesn't feel like there is much you can do about it.
Truth is, you can do something about it. Whether what you try will work, however, is why you need to test around different methods.
Not everything on this list will work for you, maybe none of it will, but why not try? And if nothing here works, try Google for a ton more articles and suggestions on what else to do.
1. Get rid of expectations
My personal favorite method of fighting anxiety is to practice fighting expectations.
Anxiety is mostly worrying about the future. When you worry about the future, you set expectations.
What some of us fail to realize is we make expectations all the time.
Even good expectations leave us worse off if we go do something we think will be a ton of fun and find out we didn't enjoy it as much as we expected to.
- Good expectations set the standards too high
- Bad expectations mean it's more likely to come true
It sucks to say, but it's better to not have any expectations, for anything, ever.
I've had a lot of experiences where I was super excited to travel, and while it was still fun, I didn't do all the things I had hoped. I didn't enjoy myself as much as I thought I would. Expectations made my trip less than what I thought it would be.
On the reverse end, if you expect to go somewhere and have a bad time, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Anxiety makes you expect a bad outcome, and you act as you would in the worst outcome. Thus, the bad experience is much more likely to come true.
Having no expectations gives you the ability to enjoy what you didn't expect to and gain all that you can from an experience without setting a bar for comparison when it is over.
Anxiety is worrying about the future.
Some of those are worries about what we can't control.
If I am worried about flying, thinking about it isn't going to solve it.
Days before the flight, I might be terrified knowing it's coming. But what can I do about it? Nothing.
And sometimes that is all that needs to be remembered for a worry to go away.
You can be anxious about things you do have control over. In those situations, yea, being anxious might make sense. So this method doesn't help with those anxieties. Yet distinguishing nonetheless gives you an easier time focusing on the anxieties that do cause you problems.
If you have to worry, worry about the things that you have control over.
3. Meditation practices or breathing techniques
There are a ton of meditation practices and breathing techniques out there to help lower your anxiety.
One of the problems that I've seen the most of is people who do meditation and say it doesn't work for them.
What you fail to understand if you are one of those people is that there are tons of meditation techniques. They are catered to certain minds and certain thoughts.
There is even visual meditation that helps to fight addictions.
When you think of meditation, whatever comes to your mind, is probably not what it is.
Do some research and try some meditation and find out what meditation technique works for you.
The worst that can happen is you try a few techniques that don't work for you. In which case, you just need to do more research and find another one to try.
There aren't 5 meditation practices out there. There aren't 10 or 20. There are hundreds. One of them will work for you.
4. Set time aside for anxiety
If you find yourself worrying only sometimes, see if you can fit that into a certain time of day.
However long you might need, but the lower the better.
While it might sound crazy, if you just spent 20 minutes sitting on your bed thinking about all the things that cause you anxiety, you might be able to step away from that after you've given focus to it.
Maybe you notice you only seem to worry at the beginning of the day and the rest of your day is fine.
Why did you worry then? Did you condition yourself to worry in the mornings? Does that help you when your day becomes progressively easier?
Setting the time aside gives you a concentrated dose of your worries, but trying to ignore them all day makes them come up randomly.
Give your worries focus. They are there for a reason. But give them your undivided attention, and they might just leave you alone for the rest of the day.
5. Stay active
While at the bottom of the list, this is still one of the best methods for getting rid of anxiety.
When I was a kid, I was worried about missing my parents when they sent me off to a summer camp.
What I heard from counselors and what ultimately turned out to be true, is I didn't have time to miss them.
I was too distracted with other things.
Anxiety can be the same.
When you aren't staying active, when you aren't trying to be productive or trying to relax, that time might just be consumed by anxiety.
Give your thoughts and worries the time of day, but prevent them from ruling the day by distracting yourself.
This pandemic gave me a ton of anxiety. I sat around and had too much time to worry and not do anything about it.
I got hired for my first full-time job, and all that panic now doesn't exist. It doesn't have time too. I'm too busy to give it attention.
Staying active gives you a chance to do something that doesn't necessarily have to fight off your anxiety, but to leave it at the door.
With this list, I still want to repeat myself and say not everything will work for you. It's OK to be anxious. Accept that you are.
This list is to give you an idea on what can work, and how to find your own ways to fight your anxiety.
It's a challenging thing to do, but if there was one simple solution, you wouldn't be here.
Anxiety is a beast that you don't have to fight. It's just something almost everyone has to deal with. Because of that, you're never fighting it alone and others can help you realize that it's only your mind.
Unfortunately for us all, our mind is the one piece of the human body that we can't replace or heal at a hospital. It takes time and stepping away to look at ourselves is the only method we have to better ourselves.